One of the things I really look forward to each spring is being able to GET OUTSIDE for lunch during the workweek. I’m very lucky to have windows in our office–so my life isn’t total darkness during the winter–but so refreshing about being able to take a walk or just soak in the sun while eating halfway through the day. It feels like I’ve pressed the “reset” button, especially after a particularly long morning of work or meetings. And another perk about the warm weather? The food carts have returned to downtown Richmond!
Most weeks, I’m super good at prepping and bringing in my lunches. Then there are days when I need something different and NOT homemade. You know how things just taste better when someone else makes them? It’s a treat! For a while, my go-to street food was Boka Tako Truck. They have the greatest sauces and flavor combinations on their tacos! Then, for whatever reason, my coworker and I decided to try something new: a wrap and limeade stand called Simon’s Cafe a la Carte. Their wraps are fresh and made with homemade ingredients like hummus, tabbouli, chicken salad and dressings. What I love most, though, is getting a turkey and hummus wrap… in salad form!
It’s their shredded iceberg lettuce layered with cucumber and tomato slices, rolled turkey, hummus, and feta topped with their homemade vinaigrette. (They used to serve their wraps with choice of chips or pretzels–and I’d get pretzels for hummus dipping–but they sadly just offer chips this year!) So, yes, it’s super simple ingredients that are awesome all together! I’d never think to swirl hummus into my salad, but I’m telling you: It’s works so well. It adds a creaminess and a little more “heft” to the meal.
And although nothing can truly replace the original, I tried to recreate it to help keep a handle on my meals out. I did swap the iceberg for hearts of romaine, which I bought uncut and chopped really thin myself. The wonderfully fresh summer tomatoes haven’t started popping up in my area yet, so I opted for grape tomatoes instead (I usually buy some every week for salads and sautéing with scrambled eggs). Store-bought deli turkey and hummus made things easy… and do I need to say that I bought–and not made–the feta too? 😉
Lastly, the dressing was the real key to mastering a homemade version of the cart salad. I asked who I assumed was the owner (Simon?) one day in passing, what the vinaigrette was and he gave the following information: red wine, dissolved sugar, oil and Italian spices. From that, I replaced the sugar with honey and whisked together the ingredients, adjusting the proportions until I got something tasty and fairly similar. Side note: I’ve finally learned to not to be scared of adding more oil than vinegar to homemade dressings. It really helps with the thickness and balances out the vinegar! Also, I think most homemade dressings are best when left to “marinate” at least for a few hours before using.
And with that, the salad is complete! This salad is so easy to prep on Sundays for the workweek. It’s fresh, free from weird ingredients and tastes best when eaten in the sunshine.
- 4 cups thinly chopped romaine lettuce (1 bag/container)
- ½ cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 large tomato, sliced thin or ¼ lb cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼-1/2 lb sliced deli turkey breast (mesquite smoked is my favorite!)
- 4-6 tablespoons hummus (store-bought or homemade)
- 4 tablespoons feta
- Italian red wine dressing: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, ¼ teaspoon Italian spices (basil, parsley, mint, etc.), pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, + 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- Mini pretzels or pita chips for serving
- To make dressing, put all ingredients into a small mason jar, secure lid and shake for 30 seconds to a minute until thorough mixed. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
- To assemble salads, separate lettuce into two bowls. Top with cucumbers and tomato slices. Roll up slices of turkey and slice into fifths, divide equally among bowls. Sprinkle feta over salads. Lastly, place an extra large dollop of hummus in the center of each salad.
- Drizzle dressing over top and enjoy! If saving for later, skip the dressing. Store salads in fridge and dressing at room temperature.