With One-Bowl Supper Salads
My grandma used to say that the best way to cool the body down and beat the summer heat was to toss up a light, bright refreshing salad. And when it comes to salads, I can vouch for grandma’s endless array of ‘one bowl’ specialities that fit the bill perfectly as the main meal of the day!
Come warmer weather I, like grandma, find it’s time to put away my stew pots and get out my favourite salad bowls, tongs and cruets. These come in handy for the long, leisurely, salad season when garden produce is at it’s finest.
One of the main features in many salad bowls is a base of crisp greenery. Since there are so many delectable salad greens to choose from, I never worry about serving the ‘same old bowl’ twice! I like to work with whatever organic picks that my garden or local vegetable market are producing – everything from spinach and beet tops to Swiss chard and all kinds of lettuces (iceberg, Romaine, endive, loose-leaf), as well as kale and red and green cabbage that add colour and crunch to the bowl.
And then there are the wild greens such as dandelion leaves, lamb’s quarters, chickweed, and fireweed (but do remember to harvest in areas that are free of pesticides, herbicides and road dust).
Lettuces and other greens are a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals essential for good health and well being. They contain powerful antioxidants and, according to notes recorded in grandma’s old doctoring journals, help to build strong teeth and bones as well as keeping the mind alert. A diet rich in greenery is also known to help prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and various types of cancers.
After the leafy greens have been chosen, the next thing to consider when tossing a main course meal is a good dose of protein, needed to build and maintain strong muscles because we all know summer is one of the biggest energy-burning seasons of the year!
Some of my top picks for protein are halibut or other lean fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, grains, and last but not least by any means – beans and lentils, which were grandma’s number one favourites for packing protein and punch into the bowl.
And “salad dressings,” as grandma used to say, “are meant for drizzling not drowning,” which is why I often use a cruet set, especially when featuring simple tossed green salads, as this allows everyone to splash as little or as much as they desire. When using a cruet set, I like to fill one container with extra virgin olive oil (which is always my chosen oil for salads) and the other container with vinegar (organic apple cider, balsamic, red or white wine vinegars are much healthier choices than plain white distilled vinegar). For endless variety, I often infuse the oil and/or the vinegars with herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, fruits, berries or anything else that tickles my fancy!
So now let’s toss up a few salads. Do remember these are mere ideas for the bowl and all measures are given loosely. Grandma’s old motto was to use whatever you have in amounts to suit your own tastes to a tee! When serving salads as the main course, then the only extra thing needed is a basket of crusty rolls. Recipes below serve 4 to 6 people.