The Salad Challenge Pt. Two

I’m following up from my last post about The Salad Challenge, which I completed by the way. It was surprisingly easy to get a salad every day, so I committed myself to another week to a second week. Which went pretty well, though I missed two days due to travel. This third week could be better, but I’ll need to visit the farmer’s market or grocery store to stock my fridge with my favorite salad ingredients.

I’ve been learning how to be creative with salads as my main meal or as a side. I only had two types of greens, arugula and kale, and a lot of the same fruits and vegetables, but I was able to mix it up a bit as well.

I want to talk about how I’ve built my salads and how I’ve made them flavorful. There’s no reason why a salad with fresh ingredients should be boring. Also, I’ll tell you how to make an easy salad dressing on the fly so you’ll never have to waste money or calories on processed salad dressing again.

As I said in my prior post about the Salad Challenge, the best way to make a great salad is to add nuts, cheese, oils, vinegars, fruits, vegetables, whatever your heart desires. I did that with two of my favorite salads from last week, my curried chickpea and kale salad and my apple and pear fruit salad with arugula, prosciutto, honey goat cheese tossed in a roasted grape vinaigrette.

Speaking of vinaigrettes, making them is very simple. At the minimum, you’ll need only a few ingredients (not counting salt and pepper). A vinaigrette is made up of a 2-3 parts oil + 1-part vinegar/acid + fresh herbs/seasonings/aromatics. My favorite vinaigrettes are lemon based and berry based. Lemon vinaigrettes are pretty common because your lemon serves as the acid base in your vinaigrette. Take my lemon-dijon vinaigrette that I used in my curried chickpea and kale salad. Just a few simple ingredients that you probably have in your fridge and boom you have a good vinaigrette.

Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 Lemon, freshly squeezed
2-3 Parts Extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
½ shallot (optional)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp of honey (for a touch of sweetness)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix the garlic, mustard, parsley, shallot, lemon juice and honey. Slowly add the olive oil while mixing it with everything else. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Curried chickpea and Kale Salad with a Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

3-4 handfuls of chopped, fresh kale greens, stem removed.
1 small can of rinsed chickpeas
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the chickpeas in a pan, stir in the olive oil and season with curry and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender. Remove from heat and let them cool until you’re ready to toss them with the kale and vinaigrette. Add your favorite cheese if you desire. I used about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese. The salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days. It even tastes better the next day because the flavors have had time to marinate together.

Another one of my favorite salads is my pear, apple, and arugula salad with a roasted red grape vinaigrette. It’s a perfect, refreshing salad for the warmer months and its very filling. Granny smith apples and bosc pears were the way to go. They’re so sweet and compliment the peppery flavor of the arugula very well. I also added honey goat cheese and toasted walnuts for creaminess and smokiness. The roasted red grape vinaigrette adds a richness and brings together all of the flavors of the salad. The only thing with this salad is that you’ll need to eat it that day. Arugula is a green that wilts easily and doesn’t last long when covered in dressing. So if you’re going to make this, make a small batch or keep the ingredients separate until you’re ready to eat.

Here’s what I used:

7 oz of Red Grapes

1 sliced Bosc Pear

1 sliced Granny Smith apple

1 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil

1-2 tsp of White Vinegar – just enough to give the vinaigrette a nice tang.

3-4 cups of Arugula

2 oz of Chopped Honey Goat Cheese

2 oz of Toasted Chopped Walnuts

Roast the grapes in an oven safe pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the grapes and let them cool. After cooling, blend them in a food processor until smooth. Add the vinegar and blend by the teaspoon until you reach your desired flavor. Add the oil and blend and set aside. In a bowl, toss the fruit and arugula together, then add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss. Add the toasted walnuts and goat cheese and serve.

I’ve made several other salads that I’ve enjoyed and will eventually share. But for now, I wanted to give an update on my challenge and go over how to make vinaigrettes. I’ve even made other dressings such as a greek-yogurt based Caesar dressing and a creamy avocado dressing. I can’t wait to test those again so I can share them with you!

It’s pretty much summertime now so salads are a regular staple in my house now. Salads that aren’t just limited to greens, like a grilled chicken and caprese salad. Can’t wait til my next post about salads and other ways to be creative with them.

Talk to you soon,

T’ara