Back in the day when I still had an office job, there were times when there was so much work to do, even things like my lentil tacos took too much time to prepare in our break room. Getting through lengthy audits and dealing with the madness of moving offices made lunchtime degenerate into a sad, sad state of affairs. Sometimes a handful of almonds was considered a lunchtime feast; at others, it was a spoonful of almond butter (I know, I know, that does NOT a meal make!). But most of the time, I just indulged in my perpetual snack of hard boiled eggs.
It should come as no surprise to my regular readers that I have a slight obsession with eggs. I have a slight obsession with a lot of things, like cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, kale, etc., but somehow eggs seem to sneak into a lot of things I make. When I’m too tired from a pain flare up to make a full meal, I fall back on my old standby of scrambled egg whites with salsa for dinner. I don’t do so regularly, but on weekends I love to make things like frittatas, bread puddings, custards, and the like, and it’s a rare day when you open my fridge and don’t find a bowl of perfectly hard boiled eggs ready for snacking.
And why not? They’re relatively inexpensive (compared to most foods right now), they’re packed with nutrients, and that high protein factor helps keep you fueled and full for several hours. As much as I love nuts, they’re not too easy on the budget, so a hard boiled egg is a much better option for me when it comes to snacking or the quickest meal possible.
But eating them straight all the time can get boring. Heck, even my favorite Deviled Egg Sandwich can get old, and I don’t often like to go there because the homemade mayo (as tasty as it can be) is so rich and heavy. So how the heck do you enjoy eggs (or, more specifically, their hard boiled whites) without resorting to the same old thing?
You make yourself a fine salad with them, that’s how.
It happened like this: There used to be this great little veggie blend that was available in most grocery stores’ freezers. They called it the “Fiesta Blend”, possibly because it was so darn fun. It had the usual frozen veggie suspects like broccoli, carrots and peppers, but it also had garbanzos, kidney beans, and other legumes that pretty much made it a solid meal on its own.
One day when I was hastily trying to figure out when I was going to fit in eating with everything else I had to do, I quickly checked my “pantry bag” I kept in our break room fridge, and noted all I had left were two hard boiled eggs and about 1/4 bottle of Italian salad dressing. Panicked, I checked the freezer to see if I’d stashed anything there, and sure enough, I had a bag of said Fiesta Blend hanging out behind someone’s Hot Pockets. It seemed like an odd combo at first, but I was pressed for time and so hungry I was ready to eat the toaster oven. So I bit the bullet, hacked up my egg whites, tossed them in with the thawed veggies and some salad dressing and took it back to my desk to chow down.
And it wasn’t half bad.
It’s a protein lover’s dream, what with all the beans and eggs, and when you’re super busy, you want a meal that will fill you up for awhile, without sitting like a brick in your stomach. All those veggies definitely help pack in a lot of fiber and nutrients (frozen veggies are, contrary to popular belief, oft’ times more nutritious than the “fresh” vegetables you’ll get in your grocer’s produce section, as those can sit on a truck for weeks, while most frozen veggies are picked when ripe and flash frozen). And it’s so quick to make, it’s not even funny.
I’ve fallen back on this dish several times throughout the year because of its simplicity, and the fact that it’s so filling and nutritious. Sometime in the spring, I realized that the fiesta blend was no longer being sold at Safeway. Or at Save Mart. Or at Raley’s or any other store I tried, desperately hunting for the darn bag of goods. But it’s not the end of the world. Really, this is best when you use all those odds & ends veggies that you might be tempted to toss, but will hopefully turn into stock instead.
You can use any veggie combo you can imagine in this; whatever suits your tastes and current inventory. You can also do what I did and make your own “fiesta blend” to portion out into different bags or containers that you can freeze later. Because of its flexibility, this salad definitely falls under the whole “ingredient assembly” category vs. an actual recipe, but it works either way. And since this is one of my famous chopped salads, a few ingredients can go a long, long way.
So I dedicate this one to you, my fellow I’m-too-busy-to-think guys and gals, for all those harried, frazzled days when you know you should eat something better than some Fritos but don’t really have the time or money to go grab a healthier alternative (and we all know those are few & far between at fast food joints). And at just $0.95 per serving, you can get back to work without worrying about your waistline or your wallet. : )
Super Simple Egg White & Veggie Salad (makes about 3-4 servings; average cost per serving: $0.95)
Not sure what to do what all those egg yolks, but don’t want to waste food? You can crumble them over a spinach & bacon salad for extra richness or turn them into extra deviled egg filling the next time you have a party and need to bring an easy appetizer (you know how quickly that filling runs out!).
And if you don’t want to measure out all those vegetables, simply use your favorite frozen veggie blend (thawed, of course), or use scrap veggies from your fridge (so they don’t go to waste).
3-4 large hard boiled eggs
1/3 c broccoli florets
1/3 c chopped carrots
1/3 c red pepper strips
1/3 c cooked red kidney beans
1/3 c cooked white kidney beans (or garbanzos, which I would have used, but didn’t realize were hidden behind some pineapple, lol)
1/3 c sweet corn (drained)
2-3 T Italian dressing or your favorite vinaigrette
1. Peel the eggs and set aside the yolks to use in other dishes (see head notes). Chop into 1/2″ squares and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the veggies. Add the chopped egg whites and dressing, then gently toss everything together. If you have time, set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Otherwise, serve up a nice portion on a bed of greens or on its own, drizzle with extra dressing if you like, and enjoy!