Thursday, October 13, 2011

Food and Film - TV Edition: Elaine's Big Salad (VeganMoFo)

“It’s a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it.” – Elaine Benes

Seinfeld – Best television show of all time?  In my opinion, it just might be and of the core characters, Elaine may be my favorite.  This Food and Film post is dedicated to Elaine and her “Big Salad”.  

We are introduced to the concept of The Big Salad in the second episode of season 6, properly titled “The Big Salad”.  George and his lady of the moment are heading to Monk’s for lunch and ask Elaine to join them.  Elaine declines, but makes a special request of George…

Elaine: No, no. How about if you bring me back something?
George: Sure, all right, what do you want?
Elaine: Um, hum, I don't know.. . . A big salad?
George: What big salad? I'm going to the coffee shop.
Elaine: They have big salads.
George: I've never seen a big salad.
Elaine: They have a big salad.
George: Is that what I ask for? The BIG salad?
Elaine: It's okay, you don't…
George: No, no, Hey I'll get it. What's in the BIG salad?
Jerry: Big lettuce, big carrots, tomatoes like volleyballs.

The Big Salad is referenced later in the same season when the gang is forced to eat at rival coffee shop, Reggie’s.  The first quote of this blog entry is from that episode (“The Soup”) when Elaine attempts to explain the concept of the Big Salad to their hostile waitress.  So the parameters for a Big Salad are fairly loose.  It needs volume, it must come in a big bowl and should have “lots of stuff in it”.  I often bring salads to work for lunch and in order to sustain me until my afternoon snack, it must be Elaine-style big.  For me, that means plenty of lettuce (preferably a couple different kinds), a variety of veggies, protein of some sort and a delicious homemade dressing.

Big Salad with romaine and red leaf lettuces (CSA), yellow bell pepper (CSA), onion sprouts (CSA), tomato (CSA), chickpeas and fake bacon bits.

I wanted to top this particular Big Salad with a lemon tahini dressing in the style of the rockin’ Jyoti Bihanga dressing by the same name.  The lemon and tahini combine to give the salad a lovely parmesan cheese sort of flavor that I just adore.  Try it for yourself!

A salad to make Miss Benes proud

Lemon Tahini Dressing
Makes enough for two Big Salads

Juice of one lemon (1 ½ if your lemon is not so juicy)
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt (possibly more to taste)
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Jar or container with tight fitting lid

1.  Combine all ingredients in your jar and shake, shake, shake (I like to impersonate Elaine dancing while I do this)
2.  Check for flavor and adjust depending on your tastes.  If your dressing is a bit thick for your liking, add a splash of water
3.  Pour over your own Big Salad and chomp away while watching your favorite Seinfeld episodes.  Might I suggest "The Big Salad", “The Serenity Now”, “The Little Kicks”, “The Sponge”, “The Strike” and/or “The Soup Nazi”?

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