On Friday night we sat on the living room floor and played video games. We left the dishes unwashed and the laundry unfolded. We didn’t tidy up. Instead we rummaged through a box of random cords and wires to find the game controller that would let us play Super Mario Bros 3. Several hours were spent trying (and failing) to rescue the Princess, stomping goombas (or getting stomped), enjoying side-scrolling graphics. Dinner was also served on the floor, out of one big bowl, a salad version of a roast beef sandwich that we oohed and aahed over. Let me repeat that: our night of video games included salad for dinner and we were excited about it.
This wasn’t a sort of nod to acting like adults while we spent the evening playing Super Mario. The salad was the reward for winning a level and the consolation after someone (cough *me* cough) failed to make a jump for the umpteenth time. It wasn’t a wimpy mix of greens with some dressing and a few pieces of tomato. This was a dinner salad, the real thing, a meal you could eat and still be full a few hours later. Did I mention this is the salad equivalent of a roast beef sandwich?
I suppose now you might be wondering why there needs to be a salad equivalent of a sandwich. Well… brace yourself. I’m not really a fan of homemade sandwiches. Cue the disbelief and shocked expressions. It’s not that I dislike sandwiches as a genre. I just find that often sandwiches, especially ones you make yourself to take to work for lunch, are often, lacking. It’s the bread. Sandwich bread is just not that good. Unless you make it yourself, in which case it’s probably excellent. But sliced bread is generally not that great, either dull and flavorless or stale by the time you open your lunch.
This is still all the things that are good about a roast beef sandwich just without the sandwich part. It’s juicy roast beef and tangy pickles and creamy horseradish dressing. And then also some lettuce and whatever vegetables happen to be around and maybe some feta cheese that would otherwise go bad.
We polished off the salad in between rounds of jumping on koopas and spitting out fireballs. When there wasn’t enough to get on a fork we picked at it with our fingers and commented on how good it was. It was the kind of perfect that you only get at the end of an ordinary day. Just us, a video game, and this salad.
Last year we ate: Pimento Mac and Cheese
Roast Beef Salad
Makes enough for two as a meal
1 head lettuce
8 ounces roast beef, shredded with your hands*
1/2 cup chopped pickles
2 cups chopped vegetables – leftover roasted veggies, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, scallions, whatever you think would be good
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)
1/4 cup mayo
2 tbs olive oil
2+ tbs grated horseradish (I like it more spicy, up to 4 tbs, you might not)
Salt and pepper to season the greens
Combine the mayo, oil, and horseradish in a small bowl. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the horseradish flavor. You should let it sit at least 20 minutes, at least while you prepare the other ingredients so that the flavors can meld.
Tear or chop the lettuce into pieces and then combine it with the rest of the ingredients besides the dressing. Season the salad with a little salt and pepper and then dress it to your liking. Serve immediately or the greens will wilt – if you want to serve it later leave the dressing off until it’s time to eat.
*To make this I generally buy deli roast beef and if you cut roast beef slices with a knife the pieces are a bit too regular and the texture is a bit weird. You could also roast some meat and use the leftovers in which case, well done you.