Today’s Wall Street Journal had an article about “The Lost Art of the Salad.”  Basically stating that we have stopped celebrating the wonderful flavors in the salad ingredients by drowning them with dressing, instead of creating a complex and refreshing blend of  “culinary pleasure.” I could not agree more. Not only do people not taste the ingredients of their salads, but purchased dressing is really junk food as I see it. One of the worst offenders of something labeled as “healthy” in the grocery store or even at restaurants is salad dressing. It is often filled with refined sugar and rancid, or inferior quality oils.  Both of these ingredients wreak havoc on your body causing inflammation and free radicals. Not to mention a lot of unhealthy, empty calories.  Your  salad should be a way to maximize your health with vegetables, fruit and healthy fats. A healthy salad should have fresh greens (ideally what is in season), some flavor or culinary contrast, like bitter, sweet, sour, creamy, and crunchy. It should also have a simple dressing with a good quality oil, (ideally organic and low temperature processed, stored in an opaque bottle), some tart element like vinegar or lemon juice, herbs and sea salt.  

This can be easy to do every day at home or in your packed lunch. I have a basic Maple Vinaigrette that I adapt to my daily preferences.  I visit the farmers market or grocery store to get my produce and keep the other flavor components on hand. See table below for a list of ideas for each flavor component.

I recently hosted a 5 course French dinner party for 10 dear friends. One of the courses was a salad course. We had this delicious and fresh salad that tasted like summer.

Lemon Herb Salad with Radishes and Cucumbers

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

8 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup arugula

5 radishes, sliced thinly

1 cucumbers, quartered and sliced

1/4 cup fresh herbs- basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sliced thinly

½ lemon juiced

½ lemon, zested

Directions:

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and dress with the desired amount of Basic Maple Vinaigrette.

Basic Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ maple syrup

½ tablespoon Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt (this season salt has no “bad” ingredients)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in mason jar or other container and shake to mix. This can be stored on the counter for weeks and used as needed.

 

Flavor component

What to use

Bitter

Arugula, radishes, frisee, radicchio, kale, grapefruit, onions

Sweet

Fruit like: berries, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, plums, apples, raisins, oranges, pears

Sour/tart

Lemon, vinegars

Creamy

Avocados or cheeses like: chevre, feta, cheddar, Swiss, manchego, brie

Crunchy

Nuts like: almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or fruit like apples or pears, or bacon