Spring is here, bringing warmer weather and a transition in the foods we eat, namely salads pulled fresh from the garden.
Salads can vary from the simplest head lettuce wedge dressed with classic Thousand Island dressing to a sensational combination of local greens and scrumptious ingredients with exotic vinegar and oil combinations for dressing.
Salads can be packed with nutrition and be low in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. But they also can be low in nutrients and high in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. It depends on the ingredients.
Salads made with a variety of raw vegetables and/or fruits and that are dressed lightly tend to be low in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. They are packed with nutrients and relatively low in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. Avoid mayonnaise and cream for dressings to protect your health.
We want to look at building a smarter salad that is delicious, nutritious and visually appealing. Using a variety of ingredients with different colors and textures adds interest and flavor.
Here are some guidelines for making a sensational salad as a main dish:
Use about two cups of salad greens for each person and place on the plate as a bed for the salad. These can be bags or containers of premixed salad greens or you can use any combination of salad greens you would like. Butter lettuce, leaf lettuce and Romaine tend to be mild in flavor. Belgian endive, curly endive, escarole, kale and watercress are mildly tart greens. Grated cabbage can be mixed in with the greens. Spinach also is a wonderful bed for the salad.
Next add about a cup of other vegetables and fruits. Vegetables include broccoli and cauliflower florets, grated carrots, bell pepper strips, artichoke hearts, whole cherry or grape tomatoes (or larger tomatoes, sliced, quartered or diced), thinly sliced red onion, cucumbers or radishes. Any type of berry, mandarin oranges, apple or pear slices or dried fruits such as dried cherries, apricots or raisins can be used.