Jonathan Waxman’s Favorite Salads

If the core of Italian cooking is seasonality, then nothing defines it more than fresh greens. Celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman shares his favorite fresh, simple salad ideas from Italian, My Way: More Than 150 Simple and Inspired Recipes That Breathe New Life Into Italian Classics.

Lettuce can be a basic term for all greens; in Italy they grow an amazing variety. In America we tend to stick to the same old standbys; in Italy they have fifty varieties of treviso! I am constantly awed at what I find in the Italian markets when I wander around the countryside. Italians like their greens crisp, bitter and colorful, and this style appeals to me. A classic example is arugula. In Italy, some varieties of arugula are large and soft; others, small, crisp and spicy. I happen to like the wild variety, the small, bitter, almost blue-tinged sylvetta.

With the greening of the American food industry, arugula no longer rests in the hands of the Mediterranean farmers. We produce amazing arugula here. Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to a freshly made salad of arugula and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese tossed with great olive oil and sea salt.

Early on in my career I became impassioned by the world of warm salads, which the Italians have enjoyed for centuries. I am particularly enamored with the classic bagna cauda, which I have adapted to my taste. I often wonder why eggs taste better in the hills of Piedmont than in downtown New York. I think pedigree might have something to do with it. In any case, a perfectly poached egg atop a curly endive salad, mixed with freshly picked herbs, pancetta, crispy torn bread croutons, true balsamic vinegar and, of course, that fantastic walnut oil from Abruzzi, is heaven!

I quite like the idea of a colorful, composed salad. Roasted apples, toasted walnuts and freshly made goat cheese, delicately but firmly tossed with lemon juice, good olive oil and black pepper, is an autumnal treat.

Then there is my absolute favorite: the raw vegetable salad. I was a picky and not at all adventuresome eater as a child. I came late to the game of delicious, freshly picked vegetables. Raw beets, asparagus, summer squash and even Brussels sprouts have all entered my daily menus. The only “trick” with raw vegetables is to choose farm fresh. A Brussels sprout gone past its primeis no one’s friend. My first raw salad came in the guise of a shaved black truffle and mâche (lamb’s tongue lettuce) salad — very decadent, and truly delicious. I have tried to enhance my repertoire along this theme. A trick I employ with raw vegetables is to use a lovely and sharp Japanese mandoline. This amazingly simple and precise tool makes quick work of a raw artichoke, caulifloweror turnip, making delicate, tender shavings. Again, tossed with great olive oil and salt, they are transcendent.


Avocado mango salad

20 Tasty Mini-Meals That Will Help Control Your Hunger

Eating smaller amounts more frequently may make it easier to control your weight, especially if you’re over 40, says Chris Robinson, author of The Core Connection. Eat five or six of these tasty mini-meals throughout the day, and you’ll never feel hungry and you’ll keep your blood sugar steady.

Many of my clients eat five or six 250- to 300-calorie mini-meals every two or three hours, including before or after a workout. By eating every several hours, their blood sugar stays steady and they never feel hungry. Women over 40 add that mini-meals seem to control bloating and weight gain.

I favor grazing, as long as you keep your mini-meals truly mini. If they start to inch toward maxi, you may eat more calories than you need and actually gain weight.

I asked my clients who favor grazing throughout the day for a few of their favorite mini-meals. Try one, try them all.

Sweet minis

  • Top a whole-grain frozen waffle with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 1 medium sliced banana.
  • Mix 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/4 cup whole-grain cereal; top with 1/4 cup fresh berries.
  • Stir 1 small handful sliced natural almonds into 1 cup low-fat fruit yogurt.
  • Peel a medium banana, then split it lengthwise. Spread with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and drizzle with 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup.
  • Spread 1 slice whole-grain bread with 1 tablespoon natural almond butter and 1 teaspoon honey or sugar-free jam.
  • Spoon a dollop of low-fat fruit yogurt on 1/2 cup fruit salad; top with 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts.

Savory minis

  • Sauté 2 egg whites in a nonstick pan, top with 1/2 ounce reduced-fat cheese, and wrap in a small whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Stuff half a whole-wheat pita with 3 ounces smoked turkey breast and a few leaves of lettuce or spinach. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Top 1 cup mixed greens with 3 ounces grilled chicken; drizzle with 1 tablespoon nonfat dressing, and wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  • Top a whole-grain English muffin with 1/4 cup pasta sauce and 1 ounce part-skim shredded mozzarella. Pop it under the broiler until the cheese melts.
  • Combine 2/3 cup cooked brown rice with 1/2 cup canned black beans and 1 tablespoon lime juice; top with 1/4 cup low-fat cheddar. Microwave for 1 minute on medium.
  • Mix 2 ounces canned tuna (packed in water; drained) with 2 tablespoons fresh, mashed avocado. Scoop onto 10 bagel chips.
  • Microwave a medium potato for 10 minutes on medium setting. Slice open lengthwise and top with 2 tablespoons salsa and 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheese.
  • Spread 2 tablespoons fat-free black bean dip, 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese, and 2 tablespoons salsa on a whole-wheat tortilla. Bake for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Add 1/4 cup shredded romaine. Roll up and enjoy with extra salsa on the side.
  • Microwave a whole-wheat pita for 1 minute on medium. Cut into triangles and spread with 2 tablespoons store-bought hummus.
  • Spread 1/2 small whole-wheat pita with mustard; top with 2 thin slices of deli-sliced turkey breast, cucumber, and sliced tomato.
  • Top 1/2 whole-wheat English muffin with 1 ounce reduced-fat mozzarella, green bell pepper, and tomato slices.
  • Top 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 scrambled egg and 1 slice turkey bacon.
  • Layer 2 slices deli-sliced chicken breast or ham, tomato slices, and lettuce on a whole-wheat tortilla. Top with a thin slice of avocado and 1 tablespoon salsa.

Chris Robinson, the author of Core Connection: Go from Fat to Flat by Using Your Abs for a Total Body Workout (Copyright © 2009 by Chris Robinson), is an elite personal trainer whose clients include celebrities, athletes, and top executives on both coasts. A lifelong athlete, Robinson is a two-time Muay Thai kickboxing champion and ran track and field at San Diego State University, where he earned a degree in kinesiology. He is also a certified Pilates instructor, and studied with the legendary Romana Kryszanowska, who learned the craft from Joseph Pilates himself. Robinson is the founder and president of Core Coach Center, Inc.™ (, based in La Jolla, California.