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From my plate to yours,
Leesa


My Favorite Spring-Summer Salad

My Favorite Spring-Summer Salad

In the spring and summer, I am feeling pretty jazzy most days. (Enter --> song choice of the day [seriously, play it, it'll make you feel jazzy, too]). Adding flowers to my food, dancing around in pure bliss, and covering my plate with alllll the colors is pretty typical around here. It is normal for us to crave lighter, fresher, more hydrating foods when the weather heats up, and eating seasonally helps us identify and consume a broader variety of produce.

I am a woman who looovveess toppings on her food. I always have, and probably always will. This salad hits just about every texture I desire in a meal: chewy [farro], soft [strawberries], creamy [goat cheese], crisp [greens], juicy [tomato], crunchy [radish + cucumber]; and just about every flavor, too.

What I love most about this salad, however, is the abundance it highlights. Spring and summer bring to life so many incredible ingredients: heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, berries, greens, cucumbers, radishes, and basil are among the few I chose to feature here.

This salad was inspired by my favorite dish at a restaurant I worked at during college. It was called "Tabouli Melon" and featured a rather generous foundation of fresh tabouli, watermelon, a heap of greens, and not one, but TWO different dressings. I decided to simplify things a bit, while still preserving maximum flavor. (aka: it's a total salad party in your mouth without too much of an enormous kitchen hassle)

NOTE: To speed up the salad prep, cook the farro ahead of time and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Otherwise, begin the prep early to account for the 30-minute cooking time.

This recipe makes 4 large salads.

INGREDIENTS. 
1 + 1/2 cups dry farro
4 + 1/2 cups filtered water
1 16-ounce container of organic mixed salad greens
2 cups chopped watermelon, chilled
1 medium cucumber, sliced
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
4-5 medium-large radishes, ends trimmed, sliced
1 package (about 1.75 ounces) microgreens, thoroughly rinse and pat dry
8 large leaves basil, thinly sliced "chiffonade"
1/2 red onion, small dice
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, if you don't have access to local, this one is delicious
1 large handful unsalted slivered almonds

FOR DRESSING:
I like to drizzle this salad with apple cider vinegar (about 2 tsp), extra virgin or roasted garlic-infused olive oil (about 1-2 Tbs), a pinch of sea salt or pink salt, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. However, my husband enjoys drizzling on a tablespoon or two of his favorite dressing in addition. If you have a garlicky, herby, vinaigrette recipe or bottled dressing that you love, it wouldn't hurt to add a little bit here to enhance and tie together all of the flavors in this salad. I'll let you decide!

INSTRUCTIONS.
1. Bring farro and water to a boil in a small-medium saucepan. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes, until chewy. Drain excess water, and set aside. If making ahead of time, you can cool the farro in the refrigerator (in an air-tight container) for up to 3 days.

2. Set out 4 large dinner plates. On each one, create a mound of greens in the center using 2 large handfuls of mixed greens. Place a large scoop of farro on the side of each mound of greens, and continue to circle the greens with toppings, arranging 1/4 of the cucumber, radish, tomato, strawberry, watermelon, and microgreens on each plate. 

3. Either crumble the goat cheese, or place 2-3 large slices on each mound of greens. Sprinkle the red onion, basil, and almonds over the greens and goat cheese. Drizzle the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, optional additional dressing, and salt and pepper over the entire plate. Enjoy! 

NOTE: You can add a protein of choice here if you'd like. We've had this salad with blackened shrimp, grilled salmon, citrus-marinated tofu, and simply as-is. Feel free to experiment with your favorite protein!

NUTRITIONAL TIDBITS:
Farro is an ancient grain making a modern comeback. Although it is a form of wheat, which most people are avoiding these days, it is much less processed than most other wheat products and unlike most other wheat, it is typically enjoyed in its whole form. Just one serving (1/4 cup) contains 6g protein, 10% DV of iron, and 3g of fiber.

Farro contains resistant starch, which means that even though it's a grain, not all of the carbohydrates consumed get turned into sugar. (Resistant literally means it resists digestion, and therefore gets fermented in the large intestine instead of broken down into glucose in the small intestine --> translation: less impact on your blood sugar, keeping your moods and hunger stable throughout the day.)

Having resistant starch in the colon may seem weird, but it's actually quite good. Resistant starch can help prevent the growth of pathogens, promote elimination of carcinogens, and increase nutrient absorption.

EAT. MORE. SALADS.

And dance more, too. 

That's all for today!
HAPPY SUMMER!

From my plate to yours,
LM

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