Summer is here and with this awesome season of sunshine, green grass and fresh fruit and veggies comes “SALAD SEASON”.
Salads are easy and the possibilities are endless as to what you can add to your greens.
I always buy organic greens such as spinach, arugula, mixed greens, baby kale, romaine, and butter lettuce. I never buy iceberg lettuce as it is at the bottom of my list when it comes to veggies and greens and nutrition. If I’m going to have a salad, my thought is to get the most out of the ingredients I chose to make my salads with.
There are a million variations on “salad” and I enjoy experimenting with fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, goat milk cheeses, sometimes organic grass-fed protein, good olive oils, walnut oil, flax oils and different vinegars and herbs and spices. There is no hard fast rule on salad making. As I said, the possibilities are endless.
Once you have your base greens selected, the canvas is yours to create the salad of your dreams.
From the many options there are a few items I love to use often.
First of all, I use organic, non-GMO ingredients. My dressings are usually made with 1/3 cup of really good oil and 2 tablespoons of one of the many good vinegars such as balsamic, apple cider, sherry, red wine vinegars and more. I sometimes add minced garlic, Dijon mustard, a little honey, salt and pepper and herbs to my vinaigrette. I often double or triple the base recipe of vinaigrette when I make it so it will last us all week. It’s best to measure 2 tablespoons of dressing on each salad if you serve them in individual bowls which I do. If you make a big batch salad and toss it in a big bowl before serving then you probably only need 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. I find if I don’t measure salad dressing onto each salad I tend to use too much dressing which obviously leads to more calories. Dressing is just an accompaniment to the greens and veggies. It’s not suppose to be the main event.
Now that my greens are chosen, my vinaigrette is made…I can move on to my toppings. This is the fun part. Be creative.
Here are some ideas you may not realize can make a good salad great.
- Grated cheese or chopped cheese…I use soft goat cheese or goat feta as it is easier to digest. But my honey loves blue cheese on his salad. Any cheese will work….it’s your choice.
- Any fresh chopped veggies will work. Go for colour to maximize your phytonutrients. Cucumber, brocccoli florets, cauliflower florets, celery, carrots, bell peppers, and more.
- If you like a bit of a salty flavor, which I do, then chop up some black or green olives and toss them in. I’ve even added capers to my salads sometimes.
- Add fresh herbs into your dressing or in leaf form into your greens. Basil, thyme, chives and tarragon to name a few good salad herbs.
- Raw onions add so much nutrition to a salad and they give a good bite of heat. I use red onions to maximize the phytonutrients. You can use chopped green onions, Spanish onions etc.
- Diced tomotoes, cherry, grape or heirloom tomatoes are great in salad. Sometimes all I do is slice a nice ripe tomato, onto a Romaine leaf with red onion, crumbled cheese and the vinaigrette. Great side dish.
- Hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced, are great on a salad.
- Nuts and seeds are great additions. I use toasted pine nuts or raw walnuts, almonds, pecans. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds etc. Adding nuts and seeds really amps up the protein, fiber and nutrition of your salad.
- Chopped apple, sliced pears, fresh berries, grapes, watermelons cubes and even peeled orange sections all add great flavor to your salad greens.
- Dried fruits such as chopped dates, figs, cranberries, blueberries, cherries are great additions.
- avocado adds healthy fat. Sometimes I add avocado as the “fat” on my salad and just drizzle vinegar overtop. The avocado replaces the oil.
- Cooked chicken, beef, salmon, tuna….etc.
- drained and rinsed beans such as chick peas, kidney beans, lentils and more.
One of my favorite ways to make a quick salad side dish for my honey and I which is also a “fancy” salad for entertaining is to throw together a Strawberry Date Salad.
I put greens in the bowls, add diced fresh strawberries, pitted chopped dates, dried cranberries, slivered almond or chopped walnuts, thinly sliced red onion and crumbled goat cheese topped with a balsamic vinaigrette and “VOILA”. I serve this simple but nutritious and attractive salad as our vegetable/fruit side dish.
So, as you see, there are endless possibilities for salad. I know it is easy to get tired of the typical tossed salad of iceberg, carrots and tomato that you may get as an appetizer in many restaurants. Step out of your comfort zone and create your own masterpiece.
Rules to follow: fresh, basic, quick, easy, healthy