It’s Salad Week, and Lettuce is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
National Salad Week may not seem like your standard Hallmark holiday, but when you consider that April 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day, and on August 8th we celebrate Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Night, Salad Week doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary.
Besides, health and nutrition enthusiasts are embracing this week as more important than ever when it comes to giving the long-suffering salad its due, considering national obesity rates and nutritional concerns. This time of the season is ideal to reinforce principles of health such as eating from the rainbow and getting the daily requirements of fruits and veggies – all things the salad accomplishes as well as or better than any other dish.
While finding just the right card to commemorate Salad Week might be tricky, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate.
Turn Over a New Leaf
You know it’s true: even the traditional Wedge Salad is better with Romaine. But even if you haven’t eaten iceberg lettuce since the seventies, you might still be experiencing salad torpor. It’s easy to get stuck thinking one-dimensionally about salad, repeating the same lettuce-and-cut-veggies routine.
Here are some ways to get past salad inertia and make greens the colorful star of the meal, not just a forgettable necessity.
1. Easy on the lettuce. Don’t misunderstand – greens, especially dark greens, are great for you. But if you’re stuck in a rut where your salads are lettuce-laden barrels obscuring the occasional cherry tomato, try upending the equation. Designate lettuce as bed-only (or eliminate it completely). Then pile high with basil and sliced tomatoes, a stack of wedged cukes, a cascade of beets…whatever deserves to be center stage.
2. Make salad the substrate. Having sliced chicken or braised salmon? Place it on your salad for a beautiful one dish dinner that’s vibrant, fresh and crunchy. Plus, salads take excellent advantage of leftovers. Had steak last night? Tonight you’re perfectly poised to have Tarragon Steak Salad. Crave carbs? Include some thin-cut sautéed potatoes on your salad for a healthy twist on a (let’s face it) less healthy food.
3. Fruit. If fruit is getting short shrift on your veggie-heavy salads, you’re missing out on a delicious flavor profile. Wild blueberries (see below), cranberries, mandarin oranges, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, watermelon, grapes…they all add color and zing and nip salad apathy in bud.
4. Greens only. If you often skip the salad because all you have is greens, go for it – tossing mixed greens with vinaigrette is easy and good for you, and mixed greens by themselves are delightful, no chopping and slicing necessary. If your greens are a one-man show, buy fresh mixes or mix in your own frisee, baby spinach, beet greens or arugula. Simply salt and pepper to taste.
5. Don’t hold the nuts. Nuts are made for salads. They add substance, texture, taste, and good fat. Be ready with pecan halves, almonds, and walnuts. The same principle applies to sunflower seeds, cumin and fennel.
6. Use herbs. Bored by salad unless you get a forkful of goat cheese or a giant crouton? This could indicate an herb deficiency in your salad plate. Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and cilantro can turn on taste buds and spice up greens and veggies. You can also infuse your olive oil and vinegar with fresh herbs, such as tarragon, dill, oregano, thyme and basil to turn up salad flavor. Gourmet Sleuth has a neat herb chart that will tell you what goes well with what, like sliced cucumbers, for instance. (Answer: Dill)
Worth a Toss: Salads to Celebrate
The height of the summer is a perfect time to observe National Salad Week because it means a meal that doesn’t require slaving over a hot stove. When the heat is on, salad-as-the-meal is the solution. If Strawberry, Watercress and Cashew Salad sounds good, or Whiskey & Wheat Berry seems worth trying, you can find these and some other distinctive salads at NowPublic.com. It shares 15 great salads that don’t heat up the kitchen.
The Primal Lifestyle gathered some of their favorite salad-related posts in celebration of the week, which they follow up with recipes for Asian Cucumber Salad and so-called “primal” dish, Curried Salmon Salad.
The New York Times has 10 Simple Salad Ideas that are fresh for the summer season and help you capitalize on its most plentiful bounty. These cool customers include green beans, couscous, honey, strawberries, parmesan and mozzarella.
If you just can’t get enough of salads, Eating Well has the definitive recipe and salad tips collection, along with ways to dress them.
As we think outside of the lettuce during Salad Week, it’s worth noting that a recent report from the USDA indicates that one cup of blueberries has all the age and disease fighting compounds you need in one day. We’ve known that the health benefits of blueberries, especially wild, are enormous, and blues offer unsurpassed nutritional content when compared to most other fruits and vegetables. They are rich in Vitamins A and C, and provide a superior punch of anti-aging and disease fighting antioxidants.
Why is this especially tasty news during Salad Week? Because wild blueberries are the colorful highlight of many health-conscious creative salads that delight diners, add pizazz to plates, and provide big nutritional benefits. So, befitting the week, here are some salads featuring wild blueberries that are worth celebrating. While these dishes don’t all have a full cup per serving, most offer a respectable start on your daily intake.
With all of these vibrant recipes, why not make Salad Week every week?