Callie’s Cabin: Almost normal garden salad

A chef salad.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Kale mix, flowerets of raw broccoli, sliced tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled egg placed in mounds with thousand island dressing for a chef salad.

Top it off with small chunks of cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. It’s a down-to-earth delight with California roots. This is the vegetable version — hold the meat and fowl this time around. And that’s how we do it after a longish three months cooped up indoors.

As we begin to open our doors and breathe in fresh air and a sense of normalcy, it’s time for renewal with nature’s foods. Flashback to March 7. I wrote in my journal: “I’m sensing our tourist town may be one where we must be forced into home isolation. As an introvert you’d think I’d be chill. Not so much. I already have cabin fever but going to stores, casinos, even to the vet seem a bit off. People are on edge. I feel it.

For now, it’s “I Am Legend” time. I’ve got the treadmill for me; hopefully the dog will not have to use it since we still go outside. I’ve got healthy food. I’d like to think this is all a nightmare and when I wake up in the morning it will be back to normal. Sadly, this is the beginning of my new normal. I’m trying to stay in the present but keep moving forward in my mind and think “what if?”

Well, we got through food challenge like a wild roller coaster ride. I recall empty food shelves, stocking up, rejoicing to find my favorite brand of eggs, and craving a sit-down meal at a restaurant. But now, we are coming back. And many of us need to healthy up — and savoring an immune-boosting fresh garden salad is a perfect place to start.

California Cool Chef’s Salad

2 cups kale mixed greens (the darker, the better)

1 large tomato, sliced

1/2 cup broccoli and carrots, chopped

2 tablespoons black olives, sliced (optional)

1/2 cup cheddar cheese or feta, chunks

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced or cubed

2 teaspoons each chives and scallions (fresh)

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise with olive oil

2 teaspoons ketchup

1/2 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped

1 teaspoon red onion, chopped (optional)

1/2 teaspoon garlic (fresh or dried)

Ground pepper to taste

1 lemon, sliced (garnish)

In a large bowl, place a bed of greens. Toss in salad stuff in the order of the ingredients. For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk ingredients and put in fridge until serving. The salad serves two to three.

A Chef’s Salad, like this one, is a reminder of a wholesome plant-based diet that isn’t always available during tough times. Fresh greens and vegetables are rejuvenating – from the store or garden. Pair it with iced tea or a glass of wine. During this spring, I, and perhaps you, too, have learned how precious our freedom is — whether it’s a quick run to the supermarket or eating inside a café. Well, I have learned gratitude for what we had — and are slowly getting back. And this classic salad with a twist is symbolic of new beginnings — and a refreshing summer season.

Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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