Chili mango-beef salad has complementary sweet and savory flavorings. | Matthew Mead~AP
Like so many kids, my 8-year-old son is no fan of green vegetables. Or at least that’s what he moans any time I insist he force down yet more salad at dinner.
So recently, I decided to blow his mind. I decided to create a salad he would love. A salad that didn’t immediately trigger eye rolls and complaints. It ended up being easier than I thought.
Step No. 1 — ditch the greens. I’m not saying the kid gets a free pass on having to eat leafy greens. But for this salad, we’d give them a break.
Step No. 2 — start with something he loves. For my boy that means steak. He’d live on it if he could. As a result, we tend to always have some variety of steak kicking around, often a lean and flavorful bison steak or flank or something of that nature. And since this is a cold salad, leftover steak from last night’s barbecue is just perfect.
Step No. 3 — pair it with something fresh, something that has some acid and sugar to cut through the meatiness. In this case, fresh mango. But strawberries, diced apples, even sliced peaches would work, too.
With the heavy lifting done, building the rest of the salad was simple. I diced radishes and red onion (super finely diced to make them less objectionable to the little guy) and added some chopped cucumber (the one green vegetable he says is not offensive).
Dress it all with a simple, yet robust blend of toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar and chili paste (or you could use any bottled vinaigrette you prefer), and we had a salad we all could love.
“That’s not a salad,” my son said as he sat down to my creation for the first time.
“Yes, it is.” So he tried some, albeit with a puzzled expression on his face.
“It’s good. But it’s not a salad.”