Friday, February 1, 2013

Scrumptious Salads

So Friday nights are designated as family movie night in our house.  We order pizza and chicken fingers and watch a movie together.  I do like to have a salad or some veggies before the pizza arrives.  This way I'm not starving when the delivery guy arrives and I don't over eat, (well at least it reduces the number of slices I will eat).  I wanted to give you some salad ideas, along with a few recipes for some delicious homemade dressings.

I LOVE salad!!!  I really, really, do.  Its rare that I go a single day without eating at least one salad.  Growing up, we ate salad almost every single night.  And for the longest time I ate like that.  I now try to have other vegetables through out the day, so sometimes the salad gets thrown to the side, but it is still a versatile favorite of mine.  Plus, I think its a great way to fill up with vitamin and fiber rich foods before or during a meal.

Salad dressings are complicated.  I can't eat a salad without one, but it can mean lots of extra calories.  The recipes I've listed are not necessarily low-fat, some are upwards of 200 calories for 2 T (the Caesar dressing), but use them sparingly and enjoy.  The lettuce and vegetables you use are minimal calories - its the proteins, cheese, nuts, beans, and dressing that add the majority of calories.  But this is all fine, especially if your salad IS your meal.  I like to put my salad in a large bowl and toss it with the dressing - I use less dressing and every bite has lots of flavor. I've also included my recommendation for a low calorie store-bought alternative.

So here are some yummy salad combinations.  Enjoy!
Happy Cooking!

The picture above is a mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, red onion, mushrooms, red cabbage, beets, avocado, garbanzo beans, and shredded cheese.  This is a perfect salad for a vegetarian lunch.  I happen to be a HUGE fan of ranch or buttermilk dressings.  Here is a yummy, quick, and easy recipe you can try at home.

Buttermilk Dressing
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp finely minced shallots
5 T buttermilk
2 T coarsely chopped parsley
Whisk together and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you don't have the time to make dressing (which trust me, it doesn't take long at all), I highly recommend the Bolthouse Farms brand.    They have a line of creamy yogurt dressings (their Ranch is really good) and olive oil vinaigrette, each for under 45 calories for 2 T.  The best part if they actually taste good.  I usually hate light, low-fat, or no fat dressings but these actually taste good.  And I'm not getting paid to say this, I just like good quality, healthy foods and like to spread the word about a good product when I find one.

The next salad pictured is a Greek salad.  This one in particular is made with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, and crushed pita chips.  You'll find an easy Greek dressing recipe below.

Greek Dressing
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and spices.  Slowly add the olive oil so the dressing has a chance to emulsify.  Pour over your salad or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

The next two salads are served with my classic balsamic vinaigrette,  super simple yet sophisticated.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.  Slowly add the olive oil until combined and serve.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

The first salad is romaine lettuce with strawberries, crumbled goat cheese (or feta), and slivered almonds - perfect for strawberry season. 
And this one is a classic fall combination - baby spinach with pears, pecans, and blue cheese. 

Another favorite, (that I currently don't have a picture of), is baby spinach or mixed greens with peas, beets, and goat cheese.

Lastly, the Caesar Salad - such a classic, but has a bad reputation for being high in fat and calories.  Well, it is!  I have tried one light Caesar dressing that I like, but it is processed and full of preservatives. There is a great no-egg homemade recipe that I started making in middle school, after the food network took off.  It is not low-fat, but it is very yummy.  So if you are looking for a good recipe, please give it a whirl.  Here is Rachel Ray's recipe for an egg-less Caesar dressing:

Caesar Dressing (Rachel Ray's version)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
the juice of 1 lemon
1 dash of hot sauce, or to taste (tabasco or red hot)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Whisk together garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, worcestershire, and dijon.  Slowly add the olive oil so the dressing emulsifies.  add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with romaine lettuce and enjoy.

I just LOVE salads!  Always have, always will! 

No comments:

Post a Comment