May is National Salad Month, but I think a nice fresh garden salad makes any meal a celebration. When you think of a garden salad, or green salad what comes to mind? A bowl of iceberg lettuce with maybe a little purple cabbage or grated carrot mixed in and one slice of tomato on the side? Do you sometimes get bored with that?
Not Your Ordinary Garden Salad
We all get tired of a plain old green salad. Try the following suggestions for greens, veggies, dressing and other ingredients to jazz up that ordinary salad. Add a little protein to your salad and make it a meal.
Be Daring in Your Choice of Greens
With hundreds of varieties of salad greens, why get stuck on iceberg lettuce? New time try something different. Use the list below to help you get started.
- Arugula (also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola). Low in calories and high in vitamins A and C the leaves have a distinctive peppery flavor.
2. Belgian endive is a leaf lettuce which is related to chicory and escarole with crisp, tightly packed leaves and a slightly bitter taste..
3. Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A and K, calcium and iron. The newest leaves are said to be less bitter. Before you go harvesting the greens in your back yard be sure you are not using herbicides, insecticides or other harmful chemicals on your lawn.
4. Escarole is a type of endive that is less bitter than other types and it good either eaten raw or lightly cooked.
5. Iceberg or head lettuce is what many people think of when they hear the words lettuce or salad. Iceberg lettuce is known for it’s crisp sweet tasting heads. It also keeps longer than some of the other lettuces. The large leaves may also be used like a tortilla to make lettuce wraps.
6. Mesclun (also known as Spring Mix) is the French name for a mix of a variety of tender young lettuces. These often include chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive.
7. Cabbage may not be an ingredient you think of for salads but the mild flavor make it a perfect bed for spicier salad ingredients.
8. Radicchio is a red lettuce in head form (resembles red cabbage) that is bitter and peppery but adds a nice accent flavor to salads when added in small amounts.
9. Romaine has long, deep green leaves. It also has a deep flavor and sturdy leaves that work well in a salad. Romaine lettuce is a good source vitamins A, C, B1, B2, manganese, folate, chromium, dietary fiber, as well as the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus.
10. Spinach is a source of Vitamin A. It is rich in iron, calcium and protein. Spinach gives a good splash of dark green color and it’s own flavor to a green salad. It is also very good lightly cooked in a little olive oil with garlic.
11. Watercress has small spicy leaves that are a good flavor addition to a salad.
Salad Dressing: How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette
The formula for a basic vinaigrette is 3 to 1. That is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. If you want to make 1 cup of dressing use ¾ cup oil and ¼ cup vinegar. If you want to make a small amount try 3 tablespoons oil to 1 tablespoon vinegar.
I use olive oil for the benefits of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, but any good vegetable oil will work. Even your basic canola or sunflower oil may be used. You can also get fancy and use flavored oils or add a little sesame or flax seed oil to your regular oil for flavor.
The vinegar is also up to you. Regular apple cider vinegar works, but I prefer balsamic or red wind vinegar. Flavored vinegars like raspberry also work nicely for some dressings. You don’t even have to use vinegar at all. Citrus juice such as orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime may be substituted.
A basic vinaigrette starts with the vinegar or other acid in a small bowl . Add salt and pepper or other seasonings as desired. While beating the vinegar with a wire whisk add the oil, slowly in a small stream. Continue beating until all the oil is incorporated into the dressing. Why do you do this? You are creating an “emulsion” or a blending of the oil and vinegar so they do not instantly separate. This may also be done in a blender.
That’s the basic vinaigrette. Plain and simple. Of course you can fancy it up. Add whatever you want — mustard, honey, finely chopped garlic or onion, any herbs and spices your heart desires.
Making only as much dressing as you will use immediately is a good idea. Olive oil tends to solidify when it gets cold, so some dressings do not store well in the refrigerator. I think you will also find the flavor of fresh salad dressing can’t be beat.
Now get out there and celebrate National Salad Month. Be daring in your choice of greens, make your own dressing, add a few of your favorite fruits and veggies and maybe a little protein and take that salad way beyond your ordinary garden salad!
This celebration is linked to:
Sugar and Spice Link Party #156 http://sugarspiceandfamilylife.com/2017/05/sugar-spice-link-party-156.html