This might be my most far-flung film to food analogy yet, but bear with me. Here goes: I never anticipated that filmmaker and fellow Ohioan Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch Drunk Love” would become my favorite movie. But like most of his endeavors, there is a striking rawness, a certain contrast of wholesome, naive hopefulness about how good things could be, fighting against the sharp sting of reality. It’s become an easy watch. I’ll swoon over the magnetic romance (with on-point performances from Adam Sandler and Emily Watson), admire the beautiful cinematography, and analyze the complex characters. Similarly, this salad is easy (like popping in your favorite movie– get it?) but doesn’t taste simple, and delivers a ton of impact, spice, and unexpected flavor. It’s become my favorite too. Both are sweet, savory, and full of nuts.
The best thing about my Punch Drunk Love salad is the entire thing is pre made not because it’s convenience food, but just as a consequence of what it is. The only chopping you’re stuck with is a quick couple of strokes if you’re not shy about getting dragon breath from green onions. A few stalks of potent scallions really pop and bring the whole thing together, but if you’re not into onions there is plenty of flavor without.
Crunchy romaine lettuce and lots of zesty shredded red cabbage make a great base for this crisp salad with a bit of a bite. I filled in the missing nutrients and fiber with a few heaping handfuls of fresh broccoli slaw, my favorite go-to to amp the quality of a salad without adding extra prep work. Grab a bag in the produce aisle, and the carrot and broccoli mix is an easy fix when you’ve got to upgrade the nutritional value of salads, soup, or any other dish. (I toss a fistful of broccoli slaw into ramen noodles before I dig into them, which has to at least somewhat neutralize the fact that I’m eating ramen, again, right?) Top it off with some raisins and dried cranberries, almonds or other nuts for protein, and wasabi peas. I used a mix from Trader Joe’s called, aptly, Wasabi Wow. Any peanut-based Asian-inspired dressing will fit the bill, but TJ’s Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette with jalapeno and fresh cilantro makes a good salad great and only has four grams of fat in a two tablespoon serving. — Casandra Armour