This week I’d like to share some of my favorite salad recipes. We eat a lot of main dish salads, at least three each week, sometimes five. Yep, it’s a lot of washing and chopping but so worth the effort! Since we eat so many salads, I am always looking for new ideas and generally work in a new salad every week. But we have some ol’ favorites that keep showing up. I aim for lots of color, a balance of textures, and flavors that pop in every bite. Oh, and solid nutrition too! For the base of the salads I usually have leaf lettuce on hand; I’ve re-discovered the delight of iceberg; cabbage makes a good addition to some salads; kale, arugula, and other leafy greens mix well with the others. Many people like romaine but it’s not my fav. I keep bell peppers, celery, green onions, carrots, and grape or cherry tomatoes around so I can always toss together an all-veg salad. Other vegetables that don’t keep as well, like avocado and cucumbers, get used first if I have bought them. Cooked grains such as quinoa, farro, and brown rice often make it in, as do beans, especially black beans and chickpeas. Nuts and seeds add interest and nutrition. Most of the time I make the dressing too – so easy and so much better than bottled – but we do have a bottled dressing or two around. When I buy bottled dressing, of course I start with reading the ingredients and make sure it uses non-GMO corn or canola oil; if the list is too long and full of things I don’t recognize, back on the shelf it goes.
1/2 c. quinoa, uncooked
4 c. ‘baby’ spinach
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. corn, steamed or roasted and cooled
1/3 c. pepitas
1/4 c. almond slivers
1 handful basil, chopped
Small handful mint, chopped
4 T. organic canola oil
3 T. apple cider vinegar
1-2 T. honey
Ground black pepper
Rinse the raw quinoa in a fine sieve, drain. Bring 1 c. clean water or mild stock to a boil, add quinoa and stir. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook 15 minutes. Let stand until cool.
Gently mix the cooked quinoa with the next eight ingredients. Combine the oil, cider vinegar, honey, and black pepper to taste. This should result in a mild vinaigrette, slightly sweet. Adjust to your taste. Pour just enough of this onto the salad to lightly dress it, toss well. The rest can be saved in a jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Adapted from the Inca Salad at http://www.otrocafe.com/
Curry Chicken Salad
One of our most favorite.
Farro – 1/4 c. dry per serving (brown rice also works well in this recipe)
Cubed, cooked chicken – about 1/2 c. per serving (cubed, baked tofu can be used here)
Mayonnaise (I use Just Mayo)
Torn lettuce- plateful per serving
‘Baby’ spinach – handful per serving
Shredded carrot – one small carrot per serving
Sliced celery – 1/2 to 1 stalk per serving
Dried cranberries – ¼ c. per serving
Slivered almonds – 2-3 T. per serving
First, cook the farro in twice the amount of water as farro. I do rinse the grains before cooking, and then cook much like rice. Boil the (salted) water, add the grains, return to boil, cover, and reduce heat to low, cook about 40-45 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, mix curry powder to taste into mayonnaise. Use 1/4 to 1/3 c. mayo per serving, and start with 1/2 t. curry per serving. You can add more as you prefer. Also stir in 1-2 T. chutney. The ‘dressing’ should be thick, not liquid. This mixture is best prepared while the farro cooks so it has time to blend; hold in refrigerator. When ready to assemble the salads, stir in the cooked chicken or tofu.
Now, assemble the salad. First mix the torn lettuce and spinach leaves together, then put a layer of the mix on each plate. Put about a half cup of cooked farro on top of each. Scatter an even portion of shredded carrot, sliced celery, cranberries, and almonds on each plate. Top with a portion of the chicken in the curry-mayo.
Thai Noodle Salad
Don’t be daunted by a seemingly long list of ingredients – it’s really pretty simple!
Rice stick noodles
1/3 cup unsalted crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup milk (almond milk is good)
<1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1-2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 carrot, grated
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned (opt.)
Scallops or small shrimp (opt.)
Cook the stick noodles according to package. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water and let cool.
Whisk the peanut butter, milk, ginger, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl until well blended.
In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, cooled noodles, cucumber, sprouts, carrot, green onions and cilantro, and bell pepper if using. Wisk the peanut butter dressing and pour it over the salad. Stir until well coated and garnish with the roasted and chopped peanuts. Serve chilled or room temperature.
If adding scallops or shrimp, cook until done in small amount of water in skillet. Cool. Add to salad with vegetables, and then add dressing.
Smoked Salmon Salad
This is a really easy salad, quick to put together but very satisfying. A piece of garlic toast is a good accompaniment, if one is needed.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 small cucumber, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
12 small cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, dill, and pepper in a lidded jar. Shake well to mix.
Put the salad greens, cucumber, and tomatoes in a large bowl; pour dressing over; toss gently to coat.
Divide the salad between 2 plates. Top with smoked salmon.
Modified from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/smoked_salmon_salad_ni_oise.html
New favorite simple dressing
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Ground black pepper to taste
Combine in jar, shake well to blend.