Monday, January 3, 2011

QUICK TIP: Creating the perfect salad!

As you may have all guessed...I am NOT a fan of high-fat salad dressings, for more reasons than one. Although some are delectable and, sometimes, necessary to curb a craving (ehem, Maurice Salad), you should be seeking to get the most out of the flavor of the toppings. I like to use several different cooking techniques for individual toppings (i.e. sauteeing, roasting, grilling) and employ fun kitchen utensils to create a multitude of textures! I highly recommend forking over the $15 to purchase a set of three Swissmar peelers which allow you to make ribbons of carrots and quickly julienne cucumbers, zucchini, and beets. Caramelized onions always provide a savory dimension to the dish, and the olive oil that you use to cook them in can provide a nice simple dressing. If the salad is an entree, incorporate some protein by tossing in some beans...I prefer "meaty" butter beans in a salad with feta cheese and roasted red peppers, or black beans in a salad with sauteed corn and avocado. Toasted nuts and seeds are also another great source of protein and healthy fats, but make sure that you don't go overboard...stick to a a couple of tablespoons or less. As for the dressing, a tip from Momma Russell is a foolproof trick: roast halved cherry or grape tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and spices at 400 degrees in the oven until caramelized and juicy. Toss the tomatoes with their juices into a salad right before serving for a warm and flavorful addition to a basic green salad! I try to incorporate a salad into every day to be sure that I meet the recommended three servings of vegetables a day. Get creative, have fun, and eat up!

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