Happy Salad Month! Did you know that May is National Salad Month? (I didn’t either.) But thanks to my good friends over at Earthbound Farm, we are celebrating all month!
And I have a confession. I’m not really a salad eater. I’d like to think I am, really. I loved the days back in the college dorm where there was an endless salad bar-where I would inevitably load up three pieces of iceberg lettuce with three different types of cheese, croutons, *maybe* a radish or other vegetable, and a giant ladle-full of ranch dressing. Hello, freshman 15!!! But, as I told myself (I realize now that denial is one of the strongest human emotions), it still was “a salad” so it was good for me, right? Yep. Denial.
But, as I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, I’m realizing that a salad doesn’t have to be some limp watery iceberg covered in high density calories. It can be an excellent source of fuel to power me through some pretty long days-and it’s a perfect vessel in which to diversify my diet. When I visited Earthbound Farm back in October 2013, we actually worked on an activity together to devise the perfect salad, asking ourselves what made a salad “good”.
What makes a salad “good” to you?
To me, the greens are pretty important. And, after visiting Earthbound, I realized I would have to move out of my comfort zone of simple spinach (yes-besides kale, it’s probably one of the most nutrient-dense greens around.) I could experiment with some peppery arugula, crunchy romaine, or even try a blend of different leaves for some variation (have your tried a Zen blend yet? Pretty fantastic.) For this salad, I chose that peppery arugula to offset the creaminess/sweetness of some of the other ingredients.
I also need a hint of sweetness in the form of fruit of some kind. I know some people have an aversion to fruit in their salads, but I’m a convert (ever since I experienced raisins on my salad at Pizza Hut when I was about 5 years old. Gotta love that Pizza Hut salad bar, too.) I decided to run with blueberries-the motherload of antioxidants and vitamins K and C.
Now, for something crunchy. Walnuts. Yes, toasted walnuts will work (or any other kind of nut, really.) But walnuts look like little brains for a reason-they are literally “brain food”. High in omega-3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamin E, these little guys provide protein and super brain protection (which we all need).
Something creamy, perhaps? Sliced avocado will do the trick. I know that there are some people out there that avoid avocados for their fat content, but it’s mostly “good” fat. Putting avocado on your salad will also increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and other compounds-like lycopene, which is found in tomatoes. Wonder why guacamole and tomatoes go so well together? It’s like a little nudge from Mother Nature to make sure we get the nutrients we need by pairing these things together.
And I need something earthy, too, like some roasted beets. You can prepare yours any way you like, but I actually salt-roasted mine (recipes to come in later posts….). Beets are good for your liver.
Last but not least, I had to write about halloumi. Ah, halloumi. Probably my second most favorite food in the world (second to these cakes made by a bakery in my hometown). The cheese you can fry. Salty, buttery, and a bit chewy. Halloumi makes anything taste better. For other recipes with halloumi, click here or here. You can put any cheese on this salad (a smooth, creamy goat cheese would be nice), and, obviously, for a vegan version, just omit the cheese.
Happy Salad Month, everyone.
My Ultimate Salad
Servings: 4 large salads
For the salad:
One 5-ounce package (bag or clamshell) of Earthbound Farm arugula
2-3 medium beets, roasted and sliced thinly
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 avocado (or more, depending on your personal tastes), sliced thinly
Halloumi cheese, sliced and fried
For the dressing:
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Salt, to taste
1. For the salad dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and honey, mixing until emulsified. Season to taste with salt.
2. Transfer the salad greens to a large bowl and drizzle with the salad dressing (you don’t have to use all of it.). Toss the arugula gently to coat evenly with the dressing.
3. Divide the salad evenly among your serving bowls and top with the roasted beets, blueberries, toasted walnuts, avocado, and cheese.
Source: A Curvy Carrot original.