I'VE BEEN in my salad daze for six weeks now. Ever since the temperature climbed too high for me to tolerate extra heat in my kitchen, it's been salads for dinner, alternating with cheese and crackers, both with the usual cheap but respectable jug of white wine. (Folonare Soave is always on sale somewhere for $4.99.)
Being a female bachelor with mismatched kitchen utensils, quickie eating habits and a refrigerator full of condiments, void of real food, I pull a partially melted plastic storage container from the cabinet and begin dinner preparations. If it's Tuesday, it's five minutes till "Hill Street Blues." I grab the bottled NO OIL vinaigrette dressing: tasty and intriguing as it never requires shaking. Chop a carrot, a scallion, a tomato, a couple of beets straight from the jar. Add a stick of celery if the stalk's fresh enough that it doesn't bend when held by either end and isn't brown in the middle. Celery marks time in singles' refrigerators longer than anything save chili sauce and Stouffer's Frozen Spinach Souffle'.
Now the pronto-salad is ready for some special touches: Feta cheese makes it a Greek salad, hold the peppers, skip the fattening olives, never mind the boring iceberg. Sprinkle NO OIL roasted sunflower seeds on top. This makes it a health-food salad in the eyes of salad bar restaurants. Now douse the whole thing with vinaigrette, pour the wine and sip to determine whether to add a cube of ice. At last, grab a napkin from the handy 500-pack and settle in to watch Renko, LaRue and the guys' weekly heart-warming adventures.
Bachelor bonus: The salad you don't finish stays in the plastic container to be returned to the fridge, and all you wash is the fork and wine glass, knife and chopping board. Dispose of the napkin after dinner or get depressed to find it unmoved the next morning.