Once when I told someone I was a vegetarian, I was asked how I could stand eating only lettuce all the time. I laughed as I don’t really fancy salad all that much. At least not what is passed off as salad by many; iceberg lettuce, under-ripe quasi tomatoes, and a dollop of fake mayonnaise does not a salad make. I can’t even remember the last time I bought an iceberg.. aeons ago. And salad bars at most restaurants are well, not made of anything even remotely fresh and green (or red or yellow) and have me taking a pass. Except for the most amazing salad bar/restaurant in Milan, will write about that on another day.
Real salads are works of art. A harmonious balance of colour, texture and taste. Satisfying, yet light and refreshing. Nutrient packed, energy boosting, and they just make you feel good.
It really couldn’t be simpler. I make a packed lunch almost every morning for the man of my dreams. He is limited to cold lunches since his workplace does not provide any means to warm up leftovers or specially prepared meals that are best served hot. So salad it is. It can be prepared the night before for those of you who are not handy with a large knife early in the morning. It is also a lovely salad to serve any time as a main course with some fresh bread, rice or piece of grilled fish.
The vegetables I use are local and organic whenever possible; and all ingredients are non -gmo (genetically modified organism). I just won’t knowingly purchase them. Organic is just so much better on so many levels, the taste is better and you really don’t want pesticide and herbicide residue in your food, or that that you give to those you care about. Better for the planet and the other creatures we share it with. There is evidence that the latest range of pesticides has been an important factor in colony collapse disorder affecting honeybees. There is a very good documentary on this called the Vanishing of the Bees. Worth a watch. Check it out at www.vanishingbees.com.
Anyways, back to the salads. Wash all of your vegetables carefully, using a proper vegetable wash (available at most health food stores). This is especially important for any non organic produce. It is really quite shocking what the wash removes and your fruits and vegetables do taste better, and are safer, for it.
Chop and slice your chosen vegetables into convenient bit size pieces, add 2-3 teaspoons of dressing, toss lightly and its ready to serve. For added substance and variety try adding vegetables that you might not have considered putting in a salad, like butternut squash,as in the featured recipe today.
If your salad is for a takeaway lunch you may want to pack the dressing in a separate container, I like those tiny little glass jam jars. The dressing can then be added just before eating. Pack a few oatcakes or rye crackers on the side, and don’t forget your cloth napkin and a real fork!
The salad featured today is Butternut & Beetroot which features cooked and cooled butternut squash and raw julienned beets, along with a host of other vegetables. The dressing is my own Hungarian/Japanese dressing, slightly sweet and gingery. This takes only minutes to make and a sprinkling of sesame seeds adds extra protein and texture.
When choosing a Butternut squash, look for one with a long neck. That is where you find the most of the fruit. The bulbous end bit holds the seed cavity and the flesh there tends to be thinner, just as good, but more fiddly. This is best prepared before hand as the squash should be cold when added to the salad.
If you prefer cooked beets, these can be added to the salad in place of the crunchy raw beets.
The recipe for the salad and the Hungarian/Japanese dressing can be found here, dMD.Butternut & Beetroot Salad enjoy!