When it comes to salads, I have traditionally been aalllll about the dressings. Citrusy, spunky, bright, creamy, smoky, really anything flavorful enough to make my salad interesting and satisfying.
However as of late, I find myself really enjoying the TASTE of the ingredients on my plate. This might be due to the recent shift in my household onto using more seasonal ingredients at mealtime, something I did really well while living in Oregon, but somehow slipped on over the last two years, save for our occasional farmer's market hauls when we have the chance.
Or, it might be because I have been such a diehard salad muncher for so long now that my palate is rugged enough to handle an entire plate of vegetables with very little additions.
But really, it's probably because I've finally figured out how to season the veggies just quite right (not a very revolutionary system) to enhance their flavors and transform my salads into meals that are extremely nourishing, delicious, and ridiculously effortless.
Now, if you've been a follower of mine for a while now, you already know my rant on ingredients in season (and local to your area) being much more flavorful and nutrient-dense than those shipped from around the world, but how do you feel about simply-dressed salads? Can you get down with greens not covered in sauce?
What I mean by this is that in order to enhance the ingredients on my veggie-filled plate rather than covering them up, I've been simply using a few cracks of black pepper, a good quality sea salt or pink salt, brightened up with a squeeze of fresh lemon or apple cider vinegar, and smoothed out with either plain or roasted garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil. Simple, yet surprisingly satisfying. (Is that enough alliteration for you?).
And that's exactly what I've done here in this recipe.
Makes 1 large salad.
Double, triple, or quadruple for extra salads.
2 large handfuls salad greens of choice
1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
2-3 Tbs. basil pesto
1 individual ball, or 1/2 large ball of burrata cheese
1-2 large radishes, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
1-2 Tbs. slivered almonds
1 juicy lemon wedge
1-2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt or pink himalayan salt
freshly cracked black pepper
I used 1/2 baby spinach, and 1/2 baby bok choy
If possible, try to find a burrata from Whole Foods or your local health food store that uses grass-fed milk or from cows humanely raised without the use of antibiotics / hormones
Arrange greens onto a large salad plate or bowl, and top with quinoa, avocado, radish, burrata, and pesto.
Squeeze lemon wedge over the entire salad, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt or pink salt, and a few cracks of black pepper. Top with almonds.
That's IT! I told you it wasn't revolutionary. Just a few simple ingredients tactfully combinined to create something really powerful.
Hydrating, cooling, and full of fiber, the category of "water-rich" fruits and vegetables, which also includes celery, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, grapefruit, tomato, broccoli, bell peppers, and melons, are perfect fare during the warmer months.
Consuming adequate fiber and water allows us to maintain regular elimination (bowel movements = at least 1x/day), feeds the "good" gut flora, and acts as a natural broom to sweep through the intestines, clearing out leftover toxins and food bits in the cracks and crevices.
This meal is rich in all of the essential components: fat, protein, fiber, and greens. These elements work together to keep you feeling fuller longer, slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream which keeps your mood and hunger stable, and sends a surge of antioxidants and protective plant chemicals through the body.
Vitamin K is plentiful in this salad, especially from the avocado, spinach, bok choy (most leafy greens), and basil. Vitamin K is critical for maintaining bone health, especially as we age, as it tightly regulates our levels of osteoclasts, which are specific cells responsible for breaking down bone tissue to release minerals (such as calcium) into the bloodstream as our available content becomes low. This process is typically performed on an as-needed basis, so having too many osteoclasts can lead to weakening of bone.
Manganese is another shining star in this salad. Like vitamin K, manganese is also important for bone health, and low manganese intake has been associated with poor bone formation (especially important during growth and development). Skin health is also reliant on manganese for collagen production (skin & joint health) and antioxidant properties that protects skin against UV damage. Very low manganese intake has been associated with skin rashes.
So, eat for your bones!
And eat for your skin!
From my plate to yours,