A Salad a Day
by Kathy Humphrey
Spring is well upon us now. Birds shriek from dawn till dusk, flowers flaunt their blooms, the leaves on the trees are busy all day inhaling and exhaling, and people are out and about, getting their vitamin D. The season demands freshness, health and vigour. I, for one, always feel like cramming myself full of the most nutritious foods possible in the Spring.
My belief that there is some sort of governing force in the universe is reaffirmed each Spring, when the gently ironic hand of Fate reaches in and arranges all of my family members’ activities so that none shall ever occur at the same time, nor even remotely in the same vicinity. Full schedules and different destinations mean that we seem to be eating at different times. Catch-as-catch-can meals tend to be unsocial and unhealthy—too often, grabbing something quick translates to downing a ready-made meal. Times like this make big-batch cooking very attractive. In the winter months, we can have soups, pasta sauces and casseroles ready in the fridge. Spring calls for crispness, coolness and freshness. Spring calls for salads.
There are no rigid rules governing what makes a salad: warm potatoes tossed with bacon and garlic vinaigrette; juicy strawberries studding crispy spinach leaves, dappled with bits of creamy chevre; cool noodles drizzled with spicy nutty sauce; chunks of roasted vegetables folded into couscous and scented with lemon juice. Find some good recipes, make them up ahead of time and you will always have a healthy option at hand!
Jen’s Luncheon Salad
1/4 cup soya sauce
1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts, washed and ready to use
1 small bunch fresh spinach, washed, sorted, and ready to use
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup brown rice
Cook rice according to package directions. Let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients. Let stand to allow the flavours to mingle. When rice has cooled, fluff with fork. Stir in all ingredients, excluding dressing. Pour dressing over, and stir well to combine. Sit salad (in fridge) for one hour prior to serving to let flavours develop: serve.
Spicy Rice Noodles
1 package rice vermicelli
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and shredded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4" length piece of ginger, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp soya sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter or sesame paste
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp chicken broth
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; rinse thoroughly with cold water. Transfer to serving bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp sesame oil. Mince garlic and ginger in blender or food processor. Add all of remaining sauce ingredients and puree until smooth. To serve, toss noodles with peanut sauce. Stir in cucumbers and cilantro and serve at once.
Zucchini and Apple Salad
(Adapted from Sunset Vegetarian Cooking)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 Red Delicious apples
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 green pepper, seeded and cut into matchstick pieces
1 pound small zucchini, thinly sliced
In large salad bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Core and dice unpeeled apples and add to dressing (coat apples well with dressing to keep them from browning). Add onion, green pepper and zucchini. Stir gently; cover and chill. Just before serving, mix salad again.
Bulgur Salad with Cucumber and Feta
1 cup bulgur
2 cups diced cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Soak bulgur in 6 cups hot water for 1 hour: drain well. In bowl, combine bulgur, cucumber, parsley, onion and feta. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar; shake to mix. Pour over salad; stir to mix. Serve.
Shredded Raw Beet Salad
2 cups coarsely shredded raw beets
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded lettuce
1 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 - 2 shredded carrots
Mix first six ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients; toss and serve.
Kathy Humphrey lives in Victoria with her husband and two children. She tries to see cooking for a family not as a chore but as a creative outlet.