What, I ask you, could be more sublime for summer than salads?
I have a history with salads. When I was growing up, my father was called the Condiment King, because he manufactured salad dressings and mayonnaise. Our fridge was always filled with sample jars of the latest dressings, so we were very on trend salad-wise. My father truly loved salads. He had his Sunday salad, his Thursday salad, his Saturday salad, and they were all different. In other words, salad was a BIG thing in our house!
At 10 years old, I was deemed old enough to stand with a knife in my hand and make his chopped Sunday salad, which I would serve to him in a white bowl. He liked everything super crunchy. I would cut the iceberg lettuce into big chunky pieces, along with the carrot, radishes, onions… great for my knife skills! Then I would toss in red wine vinaigrette. And it had to be PERFECTLY tossed. I became the official salad maker in our family.
Is your salad sometimes soggy? Click to watch my video and learn how to toss and plate salad like a pro :)
Develop some salad savvy!
Up your salad game with:
- Chopped herbs! Nutrient-dense and flavor-full.
- Great leftovers: protein, lentils, quinoa, eggs (on any and everything).
- A little zing from the pantry: Throw in a few olives, nuts and seeds for crunch!
- Accessorize a favorite salad differently. Give it a new twist with a different dressing, such as the 3 below: sesame miso (Asian flair), greener than green goddess (creamy avocado yogurt), olive and mint (a bright surprise!).
The lesson here is that a little beef goes a long way. What people crave is the taste and texture of beef, not to be overwhelmed by it, and this dish satisfies that need by turning beef into a supporting player. The headliners here are the veggies and the dressing: think a big band combo filled with horns (that’s the lime and chili paste dressing), a rollicking rhythm section (shredded cabbage, peppery watercress, crunchy cucumber), and silkily dressed pitch-perfect backup singers (the cellophane noodles). Add meat and bring down the house!
This is a gorgeous salad from my cooking buddy Andrew Weil, MD’s GORGEOUS 2015 cookbook, Fast Food, Good Food, full of recipes that are fresh, flavorful and fast. He says,
“Classic salade Niçoise (salad in the style of the French city of Nice, on the Mediterranean coast) consists of tuna, green beans, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and usually anchovies and the tiny black olives of the region, all in a classic vinaigrette. Here fresh salmon fillet takes the place of tuna—as always, take care not to overcook it—and the anchovies and olives are in the dressing together with spearmint and capers. This is a main course salad, perfect for a summer lunch.”
Or dinner, in my opinion!
Cooking sometimes defies math—or, as we’re fond of saying around my house, the whole of a dish is often greater than the sum of the parts. Edamame, watercress, cabbage: in themselves, they’re a tad less than exciting. Yet when you combine them and add zinc-filled sesame seeds and a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, suddenly you have a salad that’s clean, green, and lean. I love it with fish (especially salmon), but it also works well on its own, notably on those days when your body and mind are yearning for culinary refreshment.
Red cabbage reminds me of that saying “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” It’s almost always used as a garnish, a barely glimpsed-then-gone adornment soon discarded in favor of the main course. Well, it’s about time for red cabbage to get its moment in the sun. It’s color and crunch are actually quite terrific, and it’s a notable longevity overachiever with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial nutrients.
This one goes out to my dad, Jay, who made salad dressings for a living. In fact he was one of the first to jump on Green goddess bandwagon, when it made a comeback in the early 1970s. It gets its name from the emerald colors of parsley and a bouquet of other herbs. In this recipe, I’ve replaced Dad’s mayo and sour cream base with healthier but no less tasty avocados and yogurt. A classic reimagined, and as popular as ever!