"It seemed a natural extension," she explains, noting that "Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main Dish Salads for Every Season" (William Morrow, $34.99) follows logically on her 2007 work, "Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate."
A main dish salad can be many things — it doesn't even have to include lettuce or greens. Wells offers a wide range of ideas from a creamy ricotta terrine to poached turkey breast dressed with herbs to falafel paired with heirloom tomatoes and a tahini dressing.
Wells also includes a recipe for her version of the Cobb salad.
This main meal chopped salad was invented at Hollywood's Brown Derby Restaurant in the 1920s or 1930s — there's some debate about the date.
Some, like Wells, believe the salad started as a late night snack for the owner; others say it was a way to use up leftovers. (Cobb was the name of the Brown Derby's owner.)
Wells calls the Cobb salad a precursor to today's chopped salads, describing it simply as an American classic.
5 tips for a better salad from Patricia Wells and "Salad as a Meal."
- Embrace the crunch, whether it's raw carrots, crisp greens, toasted pumpkin seeds or tortilla chips.
- Dress the salad lightly but thoroughly. The French believe it takes 33 turns for a salad to be properly dressed, Wells notes.
- An herb can change the salad. Experiment using fresh tarragon, fresh rosemary or whatever herbs you have on hand.
- Looks count. Not only add color to your salad but consider unusual presentations. Use tart rings and other molds to shape salads; present salads on an edible plate made out of toasted bread.
- Buy top-quality, super-fresh ingredients for your salad
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Note: Adapted from Patricia Wells' "Salad as a Meal."
2 1/2 ounces smoked bacon, rind removed, cut into matchsticks
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped, about 4 cups
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 large ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, cubed
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled
4 green onions, white part only, chopped
Yogurt and lemon dressing, see recipe below
Freshly ground pepper
1. Brown the bacon over moderate heat in a large, dry skillet until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the bacon to absorb any additional fat.
2. Combine the bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and green onion in a bowl. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat. Season with pepper to taste.
Yogurt and lemon dressing:
Combine 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt in a jar. Cover with the lid; shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. May be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes about 3/4 cup
Per serving (using half the dressing): 267 calories, 65% of calories from fat, 20 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein, 705 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
Follow @billdaley on Twitter