Watch out, meat-and-potato lovers: everyone is going green. With the increasing awareness of obesity in America, salads are popping up everywhere. Name any fast food restaurant – Wendy’s, Taco Bell, even McDonald’s – and you can almost bet that they will have a variety of meal-size salads on their menu. And I don’t mean those piddly little side salads that fast food restaurants used to carry just to have something slightly healthy among the grease and fat. These salads have chicken, gourmet cheeses, walnuts, fruit and any number of dressings. And in the supermarket, there are now whole aisles of bagged salads, some with dressings and accouterments included for those who are too busy (or too lazy) to wash and tear a couple leaves of romaine. Grab a bag of salad and a bottle of dressing, and voilá, you’ve got an instant accompaniment to dinner. Add some pre-cooked, packaged chicken or tuna, and you’ve got a meal.But all this convenience comes at a price. Salads at fast food restaurants are more expensive than their regular burgers and burritos. Bagged salads are more than $3 for a two-serving bag (unless you luck out and get them on sale). Yes, I admit I buy these a lot because of my hectic lifestyle, but I always feel cheated on the price. Plus, they don’t last very long when opened.The best salads are made with greens fresh from the garden. My boss brought some garden greens in the other day, and I immediately snatched them up. Eating the sweet mix of red-leaf, butter and romaine, I was reminded of all I miss when I buy bagged. Summer is prime time for garden greens. Don’t just stick with green-leaf; branch out into spinach or arugula or endive. Mix it up: add fresh strawberries or a sprinkle of feta cheese. Go Southwestern with a black-bean salsa instead of dressing. Whatever you do, take advantage of this year’s crop. It’s fresh, it’s tastier, and best of all, it doesn’t cost much.
Salad greens with cranberry vinaigrette 4 teaspoons cranberry juice cocktail 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil 12 teaspoon sugar 12 teaspoon Dijon mustard 12 teaspoon red wine vinegar 18 teaspoon salt 18 teaspoon pepper 2 cups torn romaine lettuce 12 cup julienned zucchini Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine lettuce and zucchini in a bowl; add vinaigrette and toss salad well. Serves two.- Cooking Light magazineBaby spinach salad with grilled tomato dressing 8 thin slices ciabatta or other Italian bread 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 pound ripe plum tomatoes 14 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 14 teaspoon minced garlic Salt and pepper 12 ounces baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)Preheat the grill to medium-high. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the bread with the extra-virgin olive oil. Place the tomatoes on the grill and roast, turning, until the skin is evenly charred. Remove the tomatoes. Place the bread on the grill and cook, turning, until marked and lightly toasted on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside. When cool enough to handle, peel and seed the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a blender with the oil, vinegar, and garlic and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place the spinach in a large salad bowl and top with the artichoke hearts and onions. Toss with the dressing to lightly coat. Crumble the blue cheese on top and serve with the toasted bread on the side. Serves four.- http://www.foodnetwork.comInsalata tri colore (Three-color salad)2 hearts romaine lettuce 1 medium head radicchio 1 medium bulb endive Balsamic vinaigrette: 13 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 small shallot, minced 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Coarse salt and black pepperCoarsely chop hearts of romaine; shred radicchio; thinly slice endive lengthwise. Combine greens in a salad bowl. Pour olive oil into a microwave safe dish. Add shallots to oil and place oil in microwave. Heat oil and shallots for 30 seconds on high. Remove from microwave and let stand 5 minutes. (Oil and shallots may be heated over low heat on the stovetop in a small pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until cool.) Pour oil and shallots in a bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Serves four.- http://www.foodnetwork.com
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