Saturday, January 8, 2011

Green Garden Salad Variations as a Main Dish or Side DIsh

by Lois Breneman ~ © 1999, Revised 2004 ~ Heart to Heart 

For a delicious and nutritious green salad, use romaine, green leafy or purple leafy lettuce. Iceburg lettuce has almost no flavor or nutritional value. Wash, spin dry in a salad spinner and cut with scissors into individual salad bowls. Strive for variety in color, texture and flavor.

To make a Quick and Easy Salad, top the green lettuce with the following:
Raisins, dried cranberries or apricots, cut into slivers with scissors.
Diced apple--be ready to serve shortly, so apple does not turn brown (or dip in citrus juice).
Salad dressing
Mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and soy nuts

(For additional variety in color, texture and flavor, add sliced bits of purple cabbage, sliced green cabbage, grated or sliced carrots, sliced radishes, sliced celery, sliced cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh herbs, edible flowers, slivered almonds, grated cheese.)

Tip #1: A salad spinner is a great time saving device. It saves on paper or cloth towels as well. I found one at a yard sale for 50 cents. A plastic one is inexpensive and very worthwhile. Some people wrap lettuce in a towel and spin it in their washing machine, but this still uses a towel, and unless your washer is in the kitchen, it is more trouble than it's worth.

Tip#2: Make a mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, soy nuts and maybe almonds and store in a freezer bag in your freezer door. It will be quick to grab for salad toppings. These can be found at a natural foods co-op, if they cannot be found in your grocery store.

Tip #3: Keep dried apricots, raisins and cranberries handy in the refrigerator or freezer door to quickly add to salads.

Tip #4: Simply serve a large green salad for dinner with a baked sweet potato or white potato. The potatoes can be baked quickly by washing, wrapping in plastic wrap and positioned in a circle in the microwave to bake while your family eats the salad. The e-mail circulating about the harmful carcinogenic effects of microwaved plastic wrap touching foods relates to fatty foods, but potatoes should be safe.

Tip #5: For a colorful salad, add pansy petals, bee balm, nasturtiums, day lilies and other edible flowers. Be sure they have not been sprayed with insecticides.

Tip #6: Use fresh herbs in salads. Peppermint, oregano, chives, garlic chives, Italian and curly parsley, rosemary, tarragon, cilantro and basil give wonderful flavors to salads. Peppermint is especially flavorful and refreshing.

Tip #7: After the salad is assembled, line the edge of the bowls with baby carrots, and/or garnish with strips of red, yellow or green peppers. I like to cut carrots lengthwise into slivers.
Tip #8: Look for assorted greens in the produce section of your grocery store. Check to see the price in the salad bar section, just in case it might be less. This is great added to a salad.

Tip #9: If you call a restaurant manager, you may be able to purchase salad bowls like they use. Quite a few years ago I really liked Red Lobster's white salad bowls with black rims and purchased some (new) from them for a great price. (I love dishes!)

Tip #10: You can find lovely glass crystal serving bowls at yard sales that can be used for individual salad bowls. When you serve a green salad as the main course, a serving bowl is what you need. It's fine to mix and match different styles.

Tip #11: You can purchase dressings from the Red Lobster Restaurant. Creamy Caesar Dressing is my favorite. I like to put the dressing on each person's salad as they do in some restaurants, to prevent overdoing it! By using a squeeze bottle, such as a plastic mustard squeeze bottle or a plastic honey bear, you can drizzle the dressing across your salad in parallel lines like some fancy restaurants do.

Tip # 12: You can also save a lot on your food budget by making your own salad dressings.

Tip #13: We have all heard that you should tear your lettuce, rather than cut it. The reason is because cutting can cause rust on the edges - if the lettuce, especially iceburg lettuce, sets for a long period of time after cutting it. However, if you cut green lettuce with scissors, it works very well and speeds up the process.

Tip # 14: Purchase a large quantity of slivered almonds at a food coop and toast them in the oven until lightly browned. Freeze to have on hand to sprinkle salads with these almonds for extra flavor and crunch.

Tip # 15: For protein, add chicken, turkey, beef, hard cooked egg slices, cheese in strips or grated, flaked salmon (fresh or canned) or tuna.