Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

Most of the time, cooking and eating is a social and creative outlet for me. Although I complain (sometimes a lot) about the scourge of making dinner, there is something uniquely satisfying about putting a plate in front of another human and saying, in essence, “I made this for you.”

But sometimes, I get to cook just for me. Those meals often feature things that make Dave wrinkle his nose: olives, fish, seafood, chicken livers.

Last night, craving a hamburger or pizza or something equally junky, I poked around in the fridge and came up with the junkiest healthy food I could.

First, full disclosure: I love iceburg lettuce.

I know that is a weird position to hold.

Additionally, I love shredded iceberg lettuce when it’s kinda warm and wilty.

Double-weird, I know.

Accept that, then move on with me.

The salad I cobbled together combined elements of a hamburger and an Italian sub. It was not pretty – and I ate it straight out of the mixing bowl – so there’s no photo, but it was super tasty and enormously satisfying. As I watched Downton Abbey, I might have remarked out loud to the empty room, “Holy sh*t! This is good.”

This is not my salad; this is a cute bento box salad.

NOTE: This “recipe” includes my favorite hamburger ingredients, but it’s wildly adaptable so have fun with it. This is one of those rare cases when I didn’t think about what you guys might like – I just made exactly what I like. Should you want to play around with it, avocado and tomato would be a nice addition… and I wish now, in the light of day, that I’d remembered to add sliced banana peppers.

Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded

  • a little bit of yellow onion, sliced very thin

  • 4 oz. crumbled and browned ground beef

  • olive oil, red wine vinegar

  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

  • Penzeys Italian Herb Mix

  • homemade mayo

  • sliced jicama


Place lettuce and onion in a bowl. Drizzle with  olive oil and vinegar. Smash about 1 teaspoon of Italian herbs between fingers and add to bowl. Toss well, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss again. It’s important to do this step first so the lettuce can wilt a little bit and the flavors can meld. If you like your lettuce really crisp, don’t dress the salad ’til the end.


Brown the beef in a saute pan with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


Add the ground beef to the top of the salad while it’s still sizzling hot from the pan. Place a dollop of cold mayo on top of the hot meat. Serve jicama on the side. Grab a fork and eat like an animal. Go ahead! No one is looking… or maybe that’s just me.

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  • Matt F says:

    I totally agree! I love cooking for others, especially my Sweetie, but some times it is really nice to throw something together that takes some of the 'work' out of makinga meal and just getting to the eating part.

    One thing I recently found when I was sick last week is that cooking is the last thing you want to do when sick. I managed a 'pretty good' for me chicken soup but had to have white rice with it. Other than that coooking was out and I ended up eating like crap and paying for it.

    I'm going to have to try something like this.

    BTW – the Whole9 post came a week late for me.

  • Patty says:

    Love doing this! one of my very first low carb posts (prior to Paleo) was "Cheezburger in a Bowl" and very similar to what you desribe…but I gotta have pickles and mustard on my version. And it really is better when no one is looking. 🙂

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Matt –> The biggest bummer of eating clean is not having toast when I'm sick 🙁 Sorry to hear you had a bad time. Hope you're back on track now!

    Patty –> The only problem with eating like an animal is when I forget I'm not eating alone and snarf my food in public.

  • slowmiles says:

    Love it! I make some version of this salad for lunch almost every day. Only mine looks like this:
    Tupperware full of:
    baby spinach
    assorted veggies
    fun extras (like banana peppers or nuts)

    Microwave left over paleo food from dinner.
    Put on top of "salad"
    Top with some sort of "dressing" or salsa.
    Mix up into horribly ugly mess.
    Sit at cubicle "mmming" to myself.

  • Christie B. says:

    I would be happy eating like this almost daily. Unfortunately, although my husband will eat anything I serve him, my children would revolt. They’re willing (and happy) to eat healthy food, but there needs to be a variety or they get bored (something I don’t really understand, personally).

  • Joy says:

    This is sort of a substitute for a Rochester, NY “garbage plate”. I would add some freshly made sweet potato fries and a dollop of the Chocolate Chili on top for a true (as close as possible for Whole30) Rochester fave!

  • Shelly says:

    Being a Texpat in NY, I totally get your love for the wilty shredded iceburg lettuce. Especially with a vinegar based dressing. It reminds me of the sad looking but always delicious side salads from my favorite Mexan restaurants back home.