When the weather hits record highs of heat and humidity, I’m in no mood to cook! My mind turns to salads, and I like a lot of variety in my diet. Adding 2 or 3 different ingredients can keep it interesting. Some of my favorite add-ins for extra protein to make a complete and more satisfying meal are feta, goat or shaved asiago cheese, chick peas, navy or kidney beans, cooked lentils or quinoa. Any kind of nuts like slivered almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts and pistachios add protein and a lot of taste, but be mindful of the extra caloric punch nuts contain. Of course, you can always add grilled chicken, lean meat, or a firm grilled fish like salmon, swordfish or mahi mahi to your salad, and voila, once again, you have a complete meal that will leave you satiated instead of craving carbs. Other tasty ingredients are avocado, fresh or dried fruits like apricots, figs, and dates. Seasonal berries are also a nice change, especially when locally sourced. I like to get strawberries, blueberries and blackberries from farmer’s markets or places that actually grow them on-site like Volante farms in Needham, Wilson’s farm in Lexington, and Verrill’s farm in Concord. Russo’s is one of my favorite places for produce, but I buy the produce that is in season in this neck of the woods as it’s fresher and usually more flavorful. Local greens, like arugula, endive, and any kind of lettuce round out the salad. Why is it that anything called “baby” taste so much better? I prefer baby arugula, baby spinach, baby carrots to their grown up counterparts, as 9 times out of 10, they’re sweeter and more tender. Last, but certainly not least, is the dressing- it can make or break your salad. You can go for a minimalist approach, such as blending extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper like the kind used on Israeli chopped salad, or use a touch of raspberry or strawberry jam to your vinaigrette to give it zing. Using low fat greek yogurt as a base is also a great way to keep calories low and taste high. Try the following recipes for dressings and check out this zucchini salad that is different, healthy and palate pleasing.
Here’s a simple recipe for basic greek yogurt dressing:
2 tbsps greek yogurt (fat free)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp kosher salt (flaked sea)
1/8 tsp black pepper
Here is positively the BEST website I’ve found for all different types of salad dressings:
Now for something really different……… Raw Zucchini Pasta salad!