Monday Musings… Salad building 101

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Even before salads were pretty much a daily staple in my life, people would often ask me to bring “my salad” to the party. I never really understood what made my salads so special, but I do know that “my salads” are never the same each time I make them! It is made with what I am craving at the time I am at the store, or whatever goodies are in the house and want to come to the salad party! At House Church a couple weeks ago I overheard someone asking what all was in the salad they were eating… as they gobbled it up!

I have been asked for my recipe, to which of course I usually have to laugh, again wondering what is so special, and anyone who knows me, knows I don’t follow recipes well. The day has come! I have decided with the approaching spring… yes I really do believe that soon we will be enjoying consecutive days of warmth, that it is time to try and share my salad secrets!

no iceberg zone!
no iceberg zone!

First and foremost, I don’t use iceberg. I will use just about any other greens though! I like a variety, I usually use more than one kind of greens. Winter months I am at the grocery looking for mixed greens like these. In summer I rely on what greens I get from my CSA (baby lettuce, arugala, romaine, chard) and maybe an extra bunch of kale or spinach. The heartier greens I may chop or tear up a bit. Don’t be afraid to use beet greens, or possibly other kind of bitter greens. Just use in moderation and it is nice to get that little extra layer of flavor in the mix.

There are many prepackaged mixes now, and I encourage you to experiment. Yes it is best to give these greens another good rinse/clean prior to using. Can’t go wrong with a good salad spinner to dry off the green goodness!

The usual suspects
The usual suspects

 As I said before no two salads are the same for me. This is were you have to be creative. Trust your cravings! Usually I will make a basic salad with the greens, some fresh herbs like parsley, peppers (add such flavor and color!), carrots, celery, a little green onion.

Then I will play around depending on what is available. Mushrooms offer a little Vit D and a different texture to the crunch going on. Broccoli is another favorite I add for the benefits of Vit C, immunity and such. The trick to the broccoli? I chop it fine, so I don’t have big chunks of florets and no one can pick it out. In this picture I had some cabbage leftover so I shredded it up and added in too! There is also some cooked quinoa that I added for a protein punch. Sprouts if I had them could be added in, and while these are hot house cherry tomatoes, they will do until summer time… I guess:) Sometimes I will chop up a clove of garlic  and mix it in. Color, crunch and variety offer up a good dose of nutrients!

Something that my sister pointed out to me about my salads is the fact that I do chop up my veggies pretty well. I just don’t like big chunks of veggies. If that is what I was craving, then I would just have chopped veggies and dip. For my carrots I started using a hand grater, no little chunks to try and catch with my fork! Don’t go too overboard with how many veggies you put in your salad either. Five or so is probably a good number to stick with, otherwise you get more veggies than greens. Remember you can make a basic salad and then switch it up each evening adding different veggies for a whole new salad! A few options are peas, snap peas, radishes, dried fruit, corn, jicama. Let your imagination go wild!

protein options
protein options

While veggies themselves actually have protein; where do you think the cow got his? You might want to add rinsed black bean, chick peas, adzuki just to name a few for an extra protein punch. In this pic I have some plain firm tofu, not a common pick for me, but I had some leftover and I figured why not just throw it in this salad! Another thing is spices. I really don’t do dressings much anymore. First I am a little lazy, but honestly with all the flavors going on, it’s nice just to add a sprinkle of Bragg’s 24 spice, South African Smoke or another great mix and then just a splash of balsamic vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar or squeeze of lemon, lime or orange! Let the flavors speak to your taste-buds!

yum yum!!
yum yum!

So here you have it. The big bowl on the right will get me through a couple of days of work. The salad on the right of course is for lunch. All ready to pack up in my nifty little stainless steel container. I don’t think I had ever really added fruit to my salads until the last couple of years. Now it is a great option as it adds a little sweetness to a savory dish, another depth in the flavor field. The other thing in the picture is some of my flax seed crackers that are all crushed up. So they become my croutons! If you want a crunch and again some protein addition nuts are a good option or sunflower seeds!

Yep, again I say, the options for goodness are only limited by your imagination or sense of adventure!

There is so much more that could be shared about making up a tasty salad. You might be asking about oils? Well I don’t do much oil anymore, and I really don’t like a salad swimming in an overdone of dressing! If I want some healthy fat I use sliced up avocado, otherwise I leave the oil for the car 🙂

I hope this helps dispel some of the mysteries of my basic salad making. I am anticipating the coming spring and all things green sprouting up! I can’t wait to go out in my back yard and get fresh herbs, some salad greens… Oh my mouth is watering thinking of going out back and bringing in dinner in!

mmm, lunch! better than the overpriced salad bar!
mmm, lunch! better than the overpriced salad bar!

Peace

“Dear Friend I pray that all goes well with you, and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. My dear sister, I forgot to tell you it is not only your chopped veggies that make your salads so special, it is also the dressings you mix up. I know you do the same with them that you do with your salads as far a mixing up what you have on hand but I am afraid you are going to have to share some of your dressings and sauces. The light delicious flavor enhancers you create are wonderful. I hope this helps you with one of your post. Love you!

    1. zebveg says:

      I usually only make dressings for others but you are right, I will need to share!! 🙂 Thanks for keeping me in line!

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