Friday, April 2, 2010

I Heart (Easy) Salads

I really do. From May through October, my husband and I eat salad pretty much every day because we have to to make a dent in the CSA produce overflowing in our refrigerator. During those months, I probably don't talk with too much enthusiasm about said salads. In fact, I might complain about them.

And that's why I'm posting about salads today. The weather is warming up here in Minneapolis, we can smell spring in the air, our early season greens are going to be available before we know it, and I am actually looking forward to that!

Maybe where you live, greens are already available. (Actually the greens pictured above are from Wisconsin, but I assume they are greenhouse grown.) Maybe you need some simple salad ideas to help you work your way through those neverending heads of lettuce or bags of mixed herbs and greens. So here I am, at your service.

The salad of which we have some variation almost every day is almost embarrassingly easy: greens + dried fruit of some sort + sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds + dressing. But if we throw some fresh fruit in it for color, some herbs to add a little depth to the greens, and top it off with a subtle, vinegary dressing, it's generally presentable and tasty enough to share with your friends. So below is my formula, which you can take or leave as you wish, but I'm betting you'll take it at least a couple of times if you have a CSA membership this summer.

Formula for a Good, Simple Salad
  • Mixed greens or spinach or chopped romaine
  • Fresh torn up herbs (basil, cilantro and mint are our usuals)
  • Fresh, seasonal fruit, sliced or diced (pears and oranges are featured above)
  • Something crunchy: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts if you're not allergic, chopped carrots, radishes (featured above), slightly steamed asparagus, if it's in season
  • Something with a little more texture and substance, if this is your main course or if your main course is light: legumes, lentils, avocado, homemade croutons, shrimp or chicken, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts
  • Toss everything with salt, pepper, ground flaxseed and/or nutritional yeast before dressing
  • Dressing - using formula below, shake everything in a jar or whisk it all in a measuring cup
Dressing Formula 1 (kind of sweet, good with fruits and seeds or nuts)
Equal parts olive, grapeseed or flaxseed oil + red wine or balsamic or champagne or some sort of flavored vinegar + fruit preserves. In place of fruit preserves, you could use honey or maple syrup or agave nectar, in which case you will want to use less than an equal part, probably more like half.
Examples: 1 T olive oil + 1 T white balsamic vinegar + 1 T fig preserves; 1 T flaxseed oil + 1 T strawberry champagne vinegar + 2 teaspoons agave nectar

Dressing Formula 2 (mustardy-herb vinaigrette, good for heartier, main course salad with legumes and croutons or smaller, simple herb and veggie salad)
Equal parts olive, grapeseed or flaxseed oil + red wine or balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 part dijon mustard
1/2 part chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, tarragon) or 1/4 part dried herbs
optional additions: chopped sun-dried tomatoes, capers, minced garlic, minced onion
Examples: 2 T olive oil + 2 T red wine vinegar + 1 T mustard + 1 t dried marjoram + 1 T capers; 2 T grapeseed oil + 2 T lemon juice + 1 T mustard + chopped basil, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes + 1 clove minced garlic

Seriously. We eat some variation of this almost every day. And at least for the first month or two, we enjoy it!


  1. Thank you for this post! I've had many of these lovely salad combos with the Cameron family and they never let you down! These dressing are so much better then store bought, they are fresh and very easy to make! Now, I can make them for my honey... ;)

  2. Lisa: You're welcome! If you REALLY want to try these tips, come on over and take half of our CSA share. We got SIX BAGS OF GREENS. Not counting spinach, which would make SEVEN.