Salad Season has Officially Arrived!

I had a FAB-U-LOUS salad for dinner tonight.  No pics, because it was roasted beet salad, and some of you people don’t like beets.  I have a hard time eating salad in cold weather.  But I find myself craving it now that the weather has warmed up.  And when you keep some of the ingredients on hand, it makes getting dinner ready easy and cool.

But here’s what I want to say about salads.  It took me a long time to learn this.  Give yourself permission to add in some of the ‘goodies’ that make a restaurant salad so good.  By limiting the amount of the extras, you still get all those special flavors and textures that make a salad so good, and if you choose correctly, you make the salad into a meal that will stick with you.  And it will still be WAY LESS calories than a similar restaurant salad.

Here’s the extras I had in my beet salad tonight:  roasted beets, blueberry-cinnamon goat cheese, walnuts, and Georgie’s Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Canneloni Beans. And now I have to stop and say something about these beans.  Those of you who read regularly know that I am not a fan of the bean.  Just don’t like the texture.  But this recipe intrigued me, and the idea of using them in place of croutons also sounded like a good idea.  So I made them, and when they came out of the oven, I tasted them.  ‘Hmmm, they’re still beans.’  To be honest I was disappointed.  I was hoping that they would taste like…I don’t know.  Potato chips?  Anyway, I ate a few more to confirm my diagnosis.  I was just going to take them to some girls at work who had expressed interest in the recipe.  Then, when I made my salad, I forced myself to toss a few on top. OH. MY. GOSH!!!  They are fabulous.  What a fantastic texture to add to a salad.  And to think that you are just adding in some good nutrition.  Well, I just love it when good taste and good nutrition collide.  You HAVE to try these.  Very very easy to make, too.

Okay, back to the salad mix-ins.  Here are some of the things I use to add texture and flavor to my salad.

Shredded zucchini and shredded carrots.

Mushrooms and onions.

Raisins and dried cranberries.

Nuts and seeds:  walnuts and pine nuts and sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

laughing cow cheese, cut into bite sized chunks.

The aforementioned goat cheese.

Fat free feta cheese.

Chicken, pork, salmon.  I usually have some pre-cooked meat ready in the freezer.

Crumbled bacon.

Corn.  Carrots.  Jicama. Cauliflower.


Fruit:  grapes, pears, pineapple, apple, oranges.

And then I would encourage you to make your own salad dressing.  It really only takes a minute, and it has spoiled me.  I have a ton of salad dressing in the frig that I hardly ever use.  Just mix your olive oil, vinegar and whatever flavors you want in the bottom of your salad bowl. (My fav is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey.)  Add your greens and mix.  Then you can put all your extras on top and it will look pretty like the restaurant.  (It only took me about five years to figure this out.)

BBQ Chicken Salad with Roasted Cauliflower

'Thanksgiving salad' turkey, avocado, laughing cow cheese, and cranberry sauce.

That is all, folks.  I had a fabulously full day.  Didn’t make it to the pool, but had two extremely vigorous walks with Noah.  I am feeling very athletic these days, and I like that feeling.  Hope I can keep up this gym schedule, as well as the regular walk/runs with Noah.

Have a great weekend.  I am scheduled to work two days, and then a trip to the Bay Area is planned, so I probably won’t be around much for a bit.

Question:  Do you have a favorite salad mix-in that I haven’t thought of?


22 thoughts on “Salad Season has Officially Arrived!

  1. I love salad season. And yes, you can do it yourself to rival the best restaurant salads. Hmmm, add ins. Roasted/Toasted chick peas for crunch. Toasted pine nuts (I’m addicted), sliced dates–one or two go a long way and I do like some sweet. Radishes (the little mild red globe ones–I like the texture and flavor and they’re surprisingly nutritious), I also like fruit in mine–thinly sliced pears, or mandarin oranges, or grapefuit sections, or apples. I always make my own dressing (EVOO, Red Wine Vinegar, Mustard Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper to taste, and a bit of sweet–I use Splenda). My mom’s recipe and it’s a winner.
    Good topic.

    • Thanks for the salad dressing recipe, Tish. I shall try on my next salad. And dates…hmmm. I was thinking about that. But haven’t tried yet. You sound like me–“I do like some sweet” Like 20 tons of sweet…I don’t think that’s ever gonna change for me.

  2. We keep a baggie in the freezer with a mix of red kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and green peas.

    I just take out a small scoop to thaw before assembling the salad, or if in a hurry, I thaw them slightly–and briefly–in the microwave. Yum.

  3. holySALAD.
    and NO.
    youve covered my sad little salad ideas and added WAY more than I could have ever come up with.

    I shall follow your creativesuit this weekend.

  4. OK–I’m one of the 44,223 people who enjoy reading your blog and have not yet commented through sheer inertia. I love reading these posts because you’ve got so many wonderful ideas–diet and exercise, sewing, quilting, photography, spiritual musings, and very cute dogs. That Noah . . .

  5. Mayfielder! Thanks for commenting. Now that wasn’t so painful, was it? And when might we expect to see YOUR blog??? (Just kidding around with you–really, thanks for the comment.)

  6. My love of dinner salads has caused a crisis in the house… I have no desire to cook entrees! Hubby and offspring are getting a lot of last-minute pasta. Now’s the time for pan-seared asparagus and shaved parmesan on my salads.

  7. THANK YOU for not showing the picture of the beet salad!!! (j/k, you could have shown it – I would have just averted my eyes!)

    I love salads (as you know, lol) and love your ideas – going to try the roasted beans this weekend as that sounds great. I will also have to try your salad dressing and method of tossing – I’m a Newman’s Own fan – either the lite balsamic or the lite sundried tomato – but the mustard in a salad dressing sounds so good!

    Do you get Good Housekeeping? In this month’s issue there are a ton of salads – my weekend’s assignment is to make a list of what sounds good and try something new. As you have listed pretty much everything I put in my salads, I have nothing to add, but I’ll let you know if I find something different after this weekend!

    • Shelley! I would have called you last night if I could have. One of my cooking light magazines had a dressing recipe that I really wanted to try. I looked everywhere for that magazine and found every one except April, so it must be in there. It was called something like a springtime vinaigrette. If you still have that mag, would you mind emailing me the recipe? I might have to pick up that Good HOusekeeping, or maybe someone will leave it in the breakroom.

  8. LOL at the beans. Why do we keep trying things in hopes that we will like them?

    You know I love the BBQ sauce as a dressing. Why I never thought of that before, I don’t know. You use way less and it has a ton of flavor.

    When I had salads in the past, I used to gob on the dressing. Full fat stuff, too. And I was thinking I was eating healthier….duh……..

  9. Yum – I want to eat at Casa Debby!

    My fave combo for a while was white mushrooms and sugar snap peas. Also fennel is yummy on a salad. As are mint leaves.

    Wow, I guess I’m more creative than I thought.

  10. Yay! I’m so glad you liked the beans too. That has been one of the most popular recipes I ever created! I think a lot of people are familiar with roasted chickpeas, but t my knowledge I haven’t seen anyone else create roasted cannellini. (FYI, along the creative route I tried roasted black beans. Which not only look like deer poop, they don’t taste very good.) Stick with chickpeas and cannellini 🙂


  11. Some of my favorite toppings are fire roasted bell peppers, kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts. Salads are about the only way I can say I love vegetables.

    • Good ideas, Jenn! Especially love the fire-roasted red peppers. That brings a whole other dimension–adding cooked veggies to a salad. And artichoke hearts–I forgot about them. I also really like hearts of palm, which remind me of artichoke hearts a little bit.

  12. I just recreated in a salad an old favorite sandwich from when I lived in Tucson Az. Salad greens, Green apple slices, Turkey breast slices, Pepper jack cheese, and not much dressing but the sandwich included mayo with lemon juice and a little basil. Anyway, it all is WONDERFUL , ODD combination.

  13. Your salad is simply awe-inspiring. If only I kept all of that fresh produce in my kitchen at once! 🙂 I love shaved parmesan cheese on my salads. It’s a strong taste, so a little goes a long way. I also like fresh cilantro mixed in – you can throw some greens, black beans, salsa, corn, cilantro, and some peppers together. mm mmm good!
    It was great to hear from you. I’ll definitely be blogging about China for awhile. It’s one of the main things on my mind!
    Your new little (BIG) one is adorable. You are so loving and patient with the stinker!!!

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