Salad Spree: The Simplest Salad

Simplest Salad

Welcome back to May’s Salad Spree, where each week we will be adding a salad to our salad arsenal.  Last week’s Confetti Pasta Salad was delicious and quite a bit of prep work.  Today’s salad could not be simpler, but there is a twist… you must find (or grow) beautiful fresh greens.  Because they are beyond highlighted here – they are honored!

Terroir is our foodie vocab word for today: The official definition is something like, “Terroir is a French word meaning ‘a sense of place,’ which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.” This means that foods from the earth (tomatoes, coffee beans, tea, cocoa, and most notably wine) contain flavors that are unique to where they have grown. Greens definitely have terroir.

This salad will connect you to the terroir where your greens were grown.  So you want them fresh as can be.  For those of you who receive CSA boxes, this is the salad you make the day you pick-up your box.  The salad you make for lunch right after visiting the farmers market.  The salad you make after picking your own beautiful greens from your garden. In my humble opinion, use the greens within three days for optimal results.

Here it is… enjoy!

Recipe: The Simplest Salad

Ingredients

  • The freshest, highest quality lettuce greens you can get your hands on (such as: Mixed Spring Greens, Romaine, Arugula or Spinach)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use the good stuff for this one)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper (fresh ground is best)

Add ons (totally and completely optional):

  • Candied Walnuts
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Bleu Cheese (or other favorite crumbly cheese)
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Peeled Orange Segments

Instructions

  1. Clean greens really well. Dry greens really well.
  2. Chop greens to desired bite size and place in mixing bowl.
  3. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over greens. Not too much!
  4. Lightly sprinkle Balsamic vinegar over greens. Not too much!
  5. Toss lightly.
  6. Pile greens on a serving tray. Give it some height so it looks all professional and awesome.
  7. Pinch a bit of sea salt and LIGHTLY sprinkle over the greens.
  8. Crank just a few cranks of pepper over the top.
  9. Add-ons: Plate the extras on the side all fancy like.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

If you set the table, use the lovely linens, and place a basket of warmed bake goods out, you can charge $8-$12 for this salad to start your meal! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Bon Appetit!

This post is linked to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays!

Stay Hydrated


Stay Hydrated (Smoothie)

Long days, bright sun, a million activities, hard workouts… let’s all stay hydrated!

With store-bought sodas, juice, sports drinks all containing too much sugar and chemical additives, and water sometimes not enough or just a little too dull, here’s a round-up of clean beverages I’ve put together to keep us happy and hydrated.

“Vitamin Water” – My family (and friends) have been experimenting with making flavored water over the past few weeks by adding fruits and herbs to jugs of water and refrigerating over night. We learned the technique through a Facebook photo shared by a weight-loss program, and find the water refreshing. I’ve long been a fan of lemon, cucumber and mint in my water (makes me feel like I’m at a spa), but we’ve taken it to the next level with some more interesting combinations. Pineapple and mint, cantaloupe and cilantro, lemon and parsley have all been successes by adults and kids alike.

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Here’s how to do it:  Chop up about a cup of fruit and a handful of fresh herbs. Place them in a gallon of water and refrigerate overnight. Strain out fruit and herbs (use them for a smoothie) and enjoy the fun and refreshing chilled water.

“Sports Drink” – Gatorade is not healthy! The ingredient list makes me cringe, but I know there is a need for a sports drink when working hard or long or in the heat. Here’s what I’m throwing together this summer for swim meets, yard work and hot yoga workouts – you know, when the sweat is about to flow!

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Lemon-Orange “Aid”: Mix 2 cups coconut water, juice from a lemon and half an orange, 1T maple syrup (or honey), a pinch of salt. You can make it stronger or sweeter to your preference and dilute it with water and ice to what works best for you. I like to slice the other half of the orange into rounds and float them in the jar. The drink gets better after spending a night in the refrigerator.

“Recovery Drink” – My favorite new smoothie makes me so happy after a workout.  I can feel the yummy goodness building up my depleted muscles, supporting my gut, and refueling the system. And it’s delicious and filling. Boo-ya!!

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Blend 1 ripe banana, 1 cup frozen fruit of your choice (I like an organic berry blend or an organic peach, mango, strawberry blend – both from Costco), 1/2 cup organic NOT sweetened Kefir, 1 1/2 cup organic coconut water. Makes two servings or about three cups.

“Party Drinks” – It’s BBQ/Outdoor Party season and that often means hours of mindless consuming. When the party is at your house be sure to offer some drink options that hydrate your masses. The bar could offer Orange Pom Spritzers. The beverage station could include fresh unsweetened iced tea (make a strong pot of your favorite tea and dilute with water and ice) served with lemon slices and honey. And be sure to include a large beverage jug filled with water (made fancy with lemon slices or mint leaves).

Keep calm and HYDRATE on…

Food for Thought: I bought a cow.

cow with text

MARCH 2013 – I’m at this BBQ and I overhear my sister-in-law’s father say that he is getting ready to list his two-year-old cow on Craigslist for beef. Wait, what? You can’t hear something like that and not be intrigued, right? So I butt in (gracefully, I’m sure) and start asking questions and it appears to be one of his favorite topics too, because we just keep talking until I realize I just told him I want to buy his cow. And I mean it. And I plan to eat it. How can this be happening?

FLASHBACK to 1995ish – I’m in one of my favorite college elective classes, Earth: The Habitable Planet where I learn that if every American reduced their beef consumption by 10% we could use the space used for growing grain for the cows to feed everyone hungry on Earth. I, being a young, impressionable, compassionate person at a liberal arts college with a banana slug as a mascot, go all in and take out 100% beef consumption for over a decade. See myself doing my part. Oscillate from making uninformed food choices as a vegetarian to making uninformed food choices as a chicken eater. Gain 15lbs on cheese cutlets. Suffer from anemia off and on rather routinely.

FLASH to 2007-2008 – Read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and fall in love with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Fascinated by the question, If you don’t think you could kill a pig or a cow, should you be eating them? Watch Food, Inc. and vow not to support factory farms. My O- blood gets rejected for blood donation due to low iron. Find local grass-fed beef supplier at the farmers market. Eat burger (ground beef fits in the budget) – immediately feel better.

FLASH to 2008-2012 – Consume small amounts of local, grass-fed beef from the farmers market most weeks. Join a CSA and massively increase produce intake. Enroll in Culinary School. Iron levels normalize. Cheese cutlet weight (and baby weight) shed. It doesn’t take much beef for me to feel really good. Good thing, because I can’t really afford much.

APRIL 2013 – I schedule the slaughtering of a cow so my family can have affordable high quality beef from a cow that ate grass and loved leftover squash from the garden. I saw her photo; she is adorable. I turned down a chance to meet her. Just the process of picking up and sorting the 325lbs of beef she provided (I’ve found several other families to share the meat) and being a part of her butchering story brings me close enough to the process to truly feel gratitude for the meat in my freezer.  I know I will do whatever it takes to use this meat and make sure it nourishes my family.  I will make bone broth. I will share burgers with my family and friends. I will plan my menus around all the different cuts of meat my cow provided. My gratitude extends to the hard-working couple who took the time, energy and money to raise my cow, and the butcher who very kindly took care of the butchering process, talking me through all the decisions I had to make. This cow has become an integral part of my intent to eat (real) good food.

I can’t help but think that if everyone knew the realities of the lives and deaths of the animals we eat, our consumption of meat would be honed to the “just right” amount our individual bodies require to thrive. I doubt it would even be close to the 60+lbs of beef being consumed by the average American each year. And most of us would demand that the meat come from healthy animals raised under humane conditions. This would be revolutionary and it might just save the world.

I bought a cow for beef. My gratitude will enrich my meals. My conscience tells the young banana slug inside me that I’m still doing my part.

 

**I am fascinated by the different paths that we each travel in regards to what we eat (and don’t eat); how our “food rules” change over time.  Do you have a food rule that has changed over time? Was there a specific event that changed the rule, or was it a more gentle process?  Please share in the comments!**

{This post is linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer!}

SALAD SPREE Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad

Confetti Pasta Salad with text

Here in Northern California it is getting hot! And that means it is time to stop making so many soups and start making big salads. To kick-off salad season here at the Lean.Green.Kitchen, we are having a SALAD SPREE during the month of May. Each week we’ll be putting together a salad recipe to add to your salad arsenal for the upcoming months.

No better way to start off our SALAD SPREE then with a party salad.  This one is all about celebrating whatever you have in those veggie drawers in the fridge and in the pantry and making it work. This Confetti Pasta Salad could also be called Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad or Rainbow Dare Pasta Salad because it has a lot going on and a lot of flexibility.  The recipe below shows what I put into mine today.  Note: Salad clean-up is much easier than actual confetti.

Recipe: Confetti Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 10oz of smallish whole wheat pasta (or any smaller pasta, including gluten free)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use your good stuff here!)
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed preferred)
  • 2 T Honey (warm it until it is pretty runny)
  • 1t Dried Oregano
  • 1T Dijon Mustard
  • 2 pinches Sea Salt
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic

Confetti Add-Ins

  • 1 Bell Pepper (small dice)
  • 6 Baby Carrots (or 1-2 Big Carrots) (thin rounds)
  • 1 med Cucumber (small dice)
  • 1-2 Spring Onion (minced)
  • 1 stalk Green Garlic (thin half-rounds of white and green)
  • 2 handfuls Sugar Snap Peas (chopped)
  • 1/2 med Zucchini (small dice)
  • 12 Basil Leaves (chopped fine)
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts (drained and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Olives (sliced)
  • 8oz Garbanzo Beans (drained)
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes (juilenned)
  • 4 Kale Leaves (chopped fine) *This is a great place for hiding those leafy greens!
  • 1T Parsley (chopped fine for topper)

*You can choose whatever veggies, beans, and herbs sound good to you. The Rainbow Dare is a challenge to have as many colors of the rainbow represented in your add-in choices! Shredded chicken and feta cheese are also nice.

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. Blend dressing ingredients together. I recommend using a blender for this to really incorporate the honey.
  3. Prep all the add-ins.
  4. Combine the pasta, the dressing and the add-ins. Toss gently and if you can stand it, let the salad chill in the refrigerator for a little while.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

This salad is my take on a recipe that I found on the internet over two years ago.  After much searching I found the original, so I could give proper due to Danica (who luckily named her pasta salad “Danica’s Pasta Salad” thus helping me find her!  Her original recipe is here: http://danicasdaily.com/vegan-pasta-salad/

Let the SALAD SPREE begin!