Thursday, 10 July 2014

Real Fast Food: Sam's Salads



There are no gimmicks to my salads. They aren't packed in jars. You can't make them a week ahead of time. They aren't designed in the shape of a happy face. But they taste great and I've used them to convert many people into salad lovers over the years. 

These salads are fast but fabulous. Not just side kicks to other food, some are tasty meals on their own. And because they have lots of nutrients, protein, fibre and healthy fats they leave you feeling satisfied. You might even glow from all the micro and macro nutrients you get. Or perhaps that's just the radiance that comes with the smug knowledge that you have fed yourself with real food instead of filling up on crap? But I digress.

Recently an acquaintance told me about her new eating plan. It involved supplements and shakes and she liked that because she wasn't required to eat vegetables or cut out beer and other regulars on her menu. For her that is never going to happen. "Ssssssss. It's not like I'm going to eat a salad every day!"  I smiled and said nothing. I eat at least one salad every day, often two. And these days I have vegetables in some form with all my meals and snacks including breakfast. And I love it. I have energy. I sleep fantastically. My skin feels great. In the right light you can see muscles in my arms and legs.

Nutrition experts are sending the message loud and clear. We need to eat lots and lots of vegetables to get the nutrients we need. Eat produce not products. Replace grains with greens. Most recommend at least 10 servings of vegetables a day. For some people this is a big challenge. But it doesn't have to be. Get creative with salads. Add lots of lovely cheeses and nuts. Make your own dressings. You might surprise yourself with how good this can taste. 

Here are some tips for shopping & preparation: 

1. Greens: Think outside the box. Field greens, spinach, romaine, kale, chard.
2. Vegetables: Don't go for the same boring things. See what's at the farmers market. 
3. Fruit: Try some fruit on your salad. Berries, oranges, & avocados taste great. 
4. Protein: Cook meat & fish in batches or use left overs. Try eggs and different beans. 
5. Cheese: Buy a few different kinds each week. Be adventurous.
6. Nuts & seeds: Again get a variety from the bulk shop and store in glass jars.
7. Herbs: Directly in the salad or in the dressing can make or break a salad. 
8. Dressings: Make a couple of varieties in jars to use throughout the week. 
9. Storage: Buy it eat it. Veggies are always better when really fresh. Grow your own.
10. Go organic & local: There is a big taste difference! 
11. Substitutions: Don't be afraid to substitute different ingredients in any recipe. 
12. Except for Dijon: Never substitute anything for the Dijon mustard. It's unique. 
13. Whole foods: Never use processed ingredients. Store-bought dressing is terrible. 
14. Use full fat: Your body needs proper fats. Don't skimp on healthy oils, nuts & olives.
15. No sugar! Sugar is not a salad ingredient. It triggers inflammation & high cholesterol.


Grilled Chicken with Chèvre, Walnuts & Avocado
  • Salad: 
    • field greens & leaf lettuce
    • tomatoes
    • purple onion
    • grilled chicken breast
    • plain chèvre (goat cheese)
    • 1 to 2 avocados 
    • raw walnuts
    • asparagus spears (cooked) (optional)
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • pinch salt & pepper each
    • fresh thyme
Put salad ingredients in a large bowl. Put dressing ingredients in a jar and shake and pour over salad and toss. Tips: cook the chicken at dinner time and use throughout the week.


Stink Salad
  • Salad:
    • romaine lettuce & leaf lettuce mixed
    • 1 to 2 large or 5 baby potatoes cooked
    • Kalamata olives 
    • 1 tomato 
    • small purple onion
    • fresh parsley 
  • Dressing:
    • 2 anchovies
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tbsp Fresh basil leaves chopped
I'll admit the name doesn't sound that appetizing. But this salad is for your friends who like all the stinky foods - garlic, anchovies, olives and onions. Cut the tomato and onion in large chunks, pit and half the olives, chop the parsley and toss all ingredients in a large bowl with the dressing. Tips: Don't go to heavy on the potatoes. This should be a green salad with a few potatoes and other vegetables thrown in (not a potato salad with 3 lettuce leaves). Great with fish or other grilled meat. 


Greens with Grilled Beef,  Cherry tomatoes & White Cheddar
  • Salad:
    • Swiss chard thick stems removed 
    • field greens
    • cherry tomatoes
    • extra old white cheddar grated
    • cooked steak sliced into strips
  • Dressing:
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup walnut oil
    • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
    • pinch of salt & pepper each
Simple but tasty. Toss all the veggies in the bowl with the dressing. layer beef strips on top and drizzle a touch more dressing over the top. Tips: looks beautiful with 2 or 3 nasturtium (edible flowers) served on top.  


Dad's Standard
  • Salad: 
    • romaine lettuce (1 head)
    • 1/2 English cucumber sliced thinly
    • 2 avocados
    • purple onion sliced thinly
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts
    • fresh Parmesan cheese shaved with a potato peeler
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • pinch salt & pepper each
I once developed a serious addiction to this salad. I would have eaten it every day if I hadn't been lured away by other lovely salads. Toast the pine nuts in frying pan on low-medium heat (no oil needed) but keep a close eye on them - they brown up quickly and you don't want to burn them. If there are no good quality pine nuts around you can substitute walnuts. Put all the ingredients in a bowl with the nuts and cheese on top drizzle with dressing and toss. Tips: don't skimp on the Parmesan. Use fresh Parmesan cheese (not the dried kind) and peel off big chunks. It's heaven. 

Beefy Caesar
  • Salad:
    • steak cooked & sliced into strips
    • romaine lettuce
    • cherry tomatoes
    • fresh Parmesan cheese crumbled
  • Dressing: 
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • 1/4 plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 tbsp capers
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove crushed (2 if you are feeling brave)
Toss the romaine, tomatoes and Parmesan with the dressing. lay the beef strips on top and add a few more sprinkles of Parmesan cheese. Tips: Great on it's own or served with other salads or some grilled Portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and baby potatoes. You can substitute shrimp or chicken for the beef.

Asparagus, Garden Peas & Strawberries with Balsamic Dressing
  • Salad:
    • 1 bunch of asparagus
    • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of garden peas
    • fresh local strawberries
  • Dressing: 
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • pinch salt and pepper 
    • tsp fresh thyme, parsley, or marjoram
Snap tough ends off of the asparagus and discard. Boil a large frying pan of water and submerge the asparagus whole with the peas for 1 to 2 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Cook until you can just insert a fork into the stems. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Allow to dry and come to room temperature. Layer asparagus on platter top with peas and sliced strawberries. Drizzle with dressing. Tips: It's tempting to overcook the asparagus. Remember that after you remove it from the hot water it keeps on cooking for a while so take it out when it is just starting to soften. You want it to be quite crunchy.


Gary's Garden Greens
  • Salad:
    • large variety of greens ideally just picked from the garden. we use kale, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, field greens - whatever is ready to be eaten
  • Dressing:
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/8 cup flax oil
    • 1/8 cup walnut oil
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 clove garlic crushed
    • variety of fresh herbs - parsley, thyme, rosemary, chives
It doesn't look like much but the beauty of this salad is the simplicity. It only works if all the ingredients are fresh - just picked from your garden or from the farmer's market - because then the true flavours of all the greens are there. The mixture of oils gives a great flavour. Tips: great as a side salad or on a platter of salads. Top with edible flowers (nasturtium, chive flowers) if you've got them.  


Salade Nicoise

  • Salad: 
    • 8 red potatoes
    • 1 pound of green beans
    • 3 tomatoes
    • 6 hard boiled eggs
    • 2 red peppers
    • 2 cans or jars of chunky tuna or 1 large tuna steak grilled & sliced
    • 1 bunch radishes
    • 1/2 cup of Kalamata or Nicoise olives pitted
    • 1 can (55g) or anchovies
    • 2 tsp capers
    • fresh basil leaves
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • pinch salt & pepper each
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves finely chopped 
You can either put all the salad ingredients on a very large platter in sections of ingredients and drizzle with dressing. Or you can put it in a very large bowl and toss with the dressing. Tips: Great date meal. One platter of nicoise, 2 forks, & a bottle of rose. Mwah!


Kale with Bacon, Tomatoes & Parmesan
  • Salad:
    • kale with thick stems removed
    • cherry tomatoes
    • 1 pkg of bacon cooked & chopped in large chunks (medium not too crispy)
    • Parmesan cheese grated
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • pinch salt & pepper each
Put salad ingredients in a bowl and toss with dressing. Voila. Tips: Use really good quality bacon. I buy Semmler's (no gluten no nitrates no colouring) from Glover's Farm Market in Warkworth. 


Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp & Oregano Dressing

  • Salad: 
    • mixture of firm lettuce (romaine, head)
    • tomatoes
    • purple onion
    • feta cheese
    • kalamata olives
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
    • 1 garlic clove crushed
    • pinch salt & pepper each
    • fresh oregano chopped
I've eaten this for years at the Apollo restaurant in Campbellford. It's not original and there are versions everywhere. If made with fresh ingredients it's fantastic. Keep it simple - don't add anything else in to this one. Tips: Also good served with grilled lamb or pork chops or kebabs rubbed in oil with oregano or mint. 

Thanks for reading Getting Healthy With NP Sam. Comments welcome - click the pencil icon below. 


References & Resources:
Dad
France 
Italy
Sheldon, Edena. (1988). Canada Cooks Salads. Murray/Love Productions Inc.




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