It’s a Salad Celebration!

Salmon Salad Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins
Salmon Salad
Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins

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.

  1.  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

Earth Day: Our Dependence on our Mother

Today is Earth Day.  This is a sad day for me as I see the arrogance and controlling nature of human kind destroying our planet at an alarming rate.  Even in our quiet little wooded lakeside community we live with people who want the trees cut down and the wildlife killed or relocated.

As much as people want to believe they depend on no one, we have to remember the earth is our mother.  We do depend on her — for our very lives.  She provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the ground that supports us, the food we eat — everything necessary for survival is available from our mother, the earth.  As we continue to poison the air, water and ground how long can we expect her to support us?

We were put on this earth to tend the garden.  To care for and nurture the earth and the creatures living on it.  The earth is not ours to exploit until there is nothing of any value left.  As we destroy the earth we are destroying ourselves.

This is the time to keep up on important environmental issues and take action as needed.  Some may be able to work on the “front lines” to save and protect our earth and her wildlife.  Those of us who cannot do that can still help by writing letters, signing petitions and being aware of how our everyday actions effect the earth.

Finally, we can all pray.  The prayer of one person raises the energetic vibration of the earth, but when we all join together it is multiplied over and over.  I have been involved in international, inter-faith prayer efforts and the power of such prayers is so strong, at times it can seem overwhelming.

So this Earth Day, start taking your responsibility for caring for the earth seriously.  Show Mother Earth a little love.  We can stop this…

 

God Danced

Happy Birthday! Even if today isn’t the actual anniversary of your birth I want you to know God is delighted in you as his wonderfully perfect and uniquely gifted child. In the words of this wonderful birthday song written by Andrew Lawrence, and performed by Hot Soup, God Danced the Day you Were Born.