How to Enhance Your Salad Anytime!
Various Quebec lettuces start popping up in our markets towards the end of June, beginning of July. These annual plants have existed for more than 4500 years before our era and are grown in more than 100 different varieties. Each variety offers its distinct color, texture and flavor, while adding a touch of freshness and health to our favorite dishes. In Quebec, we primarily consume Iceberg or head lettuce, Boston lettuce, green and red leaf lettuce or romaine lettuce. Here are my easy tips and tricks for revamping your salads.
- Deviate from the ordinary and play with the colors, flavors and textures of various lettuces to prepare an original salad offering both taste and nutrition to the menu.
- Fresh herbs are in full season right now and easily available; why not add a few fresh leaves of mint, basil, cilantro, parsley or chive to your salad to kick it up a notch!
- Make sure to wash the lettuce with cold water at the very last minute, remove all the excess water, then tear the lettuce in bite-sized pieces by hand rather than with a knife, this will prevent oxidation which causes vitamin C loss.
- Raw, grilled or blanched vegetables make excellent additions. In fact, salads are ideal for using up leftover vegetables which are lingering in your refrigerator.
- Dried, fresh or grilled fruits can also add a touch of color, as well as sweetness. Peaches, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, oranges, pomegranate, the possibilities are endless.
- Finally, for extra texture and a boost of nutrients dare adding nuts, seeds, legumes and young shoots!
Preparing a salad like the ones served at your favorite restaurant is easier than you think; just let your creativity flow. Here are some suggestions to inspire you.
- Radicchio, arugula, leaf lettuce, grilled peaches, walnuts
- Watercress, honeydew or cantaloupe balls, pecans
- Endives, chicory, orange quarters, beets
- Green leaf lettuce, red grapes, pine nuts, broccoli shoots
- Spinach, clementine wedges, red onions, pumpkin seeds
- Boston, radicchio, sliced apples, caramelized pecans
- Spinach, mesclun, pear slices, Goji berries, sunflower seeds
- Romaine hearts, radicchio, strawberries, avocado, hemp seeds
- Watermelon, tomatoes, mint, arugula
What’s a Salad without Dressing!
Everything is just better when it’s homemade. Commercial salad dressings are high in sodium, additives and often contain unhealthy fats. Whereas homemade salad dressings are not only healthier but tastier! Here is my formula for making a no fail, healthy and delicious homemade salad dressing: combine at least one ingredient from each of the following categories.
1. Oils: olive, hazelnut, sesame, pistachio, etc.
2. Vinegars: red wine, balsamic, rice, apple cider, fruit flavored, Xérès, lemon or lime juice.
3. Seasonings: salt, pepper, dried herbs and spices, pesto, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, etc.
4. Add-ins for a creamy dressing: buttermilk, plain yogurt, sour cream, Dijon mustard, etc.
5. Add-ins for a touch of sweetness: honey, maple syrup, concentrated orange juice, fresh fruits reduced into a purée.
Now go grab your forks and dig in!