I think that if there were one food whose reputation I wish I had the power to transform, it would be the salad.
Carnivores, please don’t run screaming. I’m not here to convince you that gnawing on raw carrots all day long is where it’s at, man.
But, I do want you to see what my idea of a salad looks like. It’s neither the super-bland “house salad” of your typical restaurant (all bitter ribs, too-thick cucumber slices and screamingly raw red onions drowning in a weird vinaigrette); nor is it the I’m-pretty-sure-it-will-kill-you-faster-than-a-Big-Mac goopy dressing, cheese-infused mess from fast food joints.
No, this salad has the season’s freshest vegetables (wait, carnivores!), a last hurrah of winter fruit, quinoa for an extra hit of protein and … yes … meat. In my case, smoked salmon, but you can sub grilled chicken or smoked turkey. All with a lightly honey-sweet, lemony dressing.
Will I completely wreck the party by revealing how healthy this salad is? Yes? Okay, we won’t talk about that then. [But it really is healthy. Shhhh, you didn't hear me say that.]
See how beautiful “green” salads can be? Kale, asparagus, green onions, pepitas, avocados — that’s definitely my kind of green.
But the best advice to eating well is always, “Eat the Rainbow.” Reds, oranges, purples and pinks and greens. They’re all salad-naturals, with their rainbow of colors and vitamins.
If this doesn’t make you want to run out and start a Spring garden, I don’t know what will (and it’s still not too late in many part of the U.S.)
Spring Superfoods Salad
4 large leaves kale, sliced chiffonade and blanched (I used black kale)
handful spinach, stems removed, sliced chiffonade
1 small head Boston or bibb lettuce, cored and roughly chopped
1 bunch asparagus, tender ends only, cut into 2″ pieces (blanched, if desired)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed
3 radishes, thinly sliced
4 ounces, smoked salmon, chopped or flaked
1 orange, supremed and sliced (I used Cara Cara; use what’s available)
1 palmful dried cranberries (or pomegranate arils when in season)
1 cup cooked quinoa – great use for leftovers (or sub 1 cup prepared lentils or chickpeas)
goat cheese, crumbled, for garnish
pepitas (roasted pumpkins seeds) for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the prepared ingredients from kale through and including quinoa in a large bowl and toss gently to mix.
Add the vinaigrette ingredients except the oil to a blender or a tall container (if using an immersion blender). Blend contents well. With the motor running, begin drizzling in the oil until well emulsified.
Plate the salad in individual servings with a garnish of goat cheese and pepitas, plus a light sprinkling of salt and/or black pepper. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top.