Eat Well: Green Greens and Greens

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
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When I was growing up, most green salads were made from two types of lettuce: iceberg or romaine. Dinner salads consisted of lettuce or perhaps spinach and some tomatoes, radishes, onions, and cucumbers, probably a few croutons on top and Italian dressing (from a dry package mix). Or, for special occasions, a Caesar salad. Then came Alice Waters and the food revolution. Slowly grocery stores started stocking more exotic fare. Now, farmer’s markets and grocery stores are bursting with arugula, mizuna, frisée, escarole, mustard greens, endive, tatsoi, cress, just to name a few. Often these greens are found bagged in a “mesclun” mix for convenience (the word mesclun comes from the French word mesla, to mix). These mixes are expensive and now that I belong to a CSA as well as have my own garden and frequent farmer’s markets, I am able to make a green salad with 4 or 5 different greens very inexpensively and conveniently.
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In my opinion, the two most important elements of a great salad are fresh ingredients and homemade salad dressing. It is so easy to make your own vinaigrette and it’s so much tastier, not to mention better for you. The classic ratio is 1:3, vinegar to oil. I use a good quality olive oil, although you can use any oil. For vinegar I use red wine, apple cider, or a good quality balsamic, depending on the type of salad. A pinch or two of salt added to the vinegar mellows out the acidity and is imperative to a good vinaigrette. You can add garlic or shallots and different herbs to create more interesting flavors. These days, there are so many flavored oils and vinegars that you can really have fun experimenting. Add some garlic or shallots and some fresh herbs, and you elevate your salad even more. Other variations come from replacing your vinegar with lemon or adding a little Dijon mustard. I even add Braggs amino acids to my vinaigrette for an Asian twist.
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Basic Vinaigrette
2 T vinegar or lemon juice or a combination of the two
Salt and pepper
6 T oil
Optional: 1-2 cloves crushed garlic (or 1 teaspoon crushed shallots)

1. If desired, crush garlic or shallots in a small bowl
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2. Add vinegar to the garlic
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3. whisk in a pinch of salt
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4. Taste. Add more if needed.
5. Whisk in the oil until emulsified or add all ingredients in a covered container and shake vigorously.
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6. Add pepper and finely chopped herbs if desired.

(Serves 4)

Variations:

· Add 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard or Braggs Amino Acids to the vinegar.

· Puree a clove or garlic or ½ a shallot and add to vinegar

· Add a seasoned herby salt instead of plain salt

· For a creamy dressing, substitute heavy cream, creme fraiche, or yoghurt for some of the oil

· My favorite fresh herbs in salad are dill, cilantro, basil, and tarragon

My favorite combination for a green salad is lettuce (I like leaf lettuce), arugula, mizuna, and mustard greens. (I’m not a big fan of spinach salad as it makes my teeth feel funny!) With such wonderful variety of greens for the base, it is easy to throw together a delicious salad. Add some toasted seeds and nuts (either plain or caramelized), some sliced strawberries or orange slices (or dried cranberries), and some crumbled goat or feta cheese then top with a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar and you have the perfect accompaniment to any dinner.

You can either toss your salad in a bowl (greens and heavy items separately as not to crush your lettuce), or lay the greens on each individual plate, adding the heavier items and vinaigrette on top:
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Seen here for beets and blood oranges
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I think the biggest mistake people make with green salads is putting the wrong ingredients together. I love fruits in salads. The best ones to use are any citrus, pears, apples, strawberries, figs, and pomegranates. In order for a salad to taste good, each ingredient needs to go together. For instance, you wouldn’t want to put strawberries with hearts of palms or artichokes. Yuck!

If you use fruit, don’t put tomatoes in your salad. The flavors don’t mix well. Put your tomatoes together with the more savory additions. For instance, tomatoes go great with hearts of palms or artichokes. Yum!

I love putting nuts or seed on salads, especially since I don’t eat meat. Good choices are walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds. You can toast these nuts briefly in a pan over a medium high flame but they are great plain, as well.

Here are some good combinations for salad (for all of these, I arrange the heavier ingredients on top of the lettuce)

1. Arugula, pear or grapefruit, and avocado with Parmesan curls or Gorgonzola cheese with a lemon vinaigrette.

2. Mixed greens of your choice, sliced roasted beets (see below), dill, thinly sliced red onion with goat cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
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Bake beets in aluminum foil. Leave a few inches of stems so they don't bleed.
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Peel skin off beets, slice and voila! Salad oomph!
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3. Mixed greens (arugula, mizuna, and spinach) with sliced strawberries, feta, toasted sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette.

4. Mixed greens with toasted caramelized slivered almonds, mandarin oranges, sliced red onion and rice vinegar vinaigrette (use canola oil and add a little sugar for this one).

5. Mixed greens with vine ripened tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red pepper, cucumber, and feta. Use red wine vinegar mixed with oregano for this Greek variation.

7. Mixed greens with artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, tomatoes, and a garlic-thyme vinaigrette (toasted pine nuts are good on this one).
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Next week, chopped salads as center stage!


Love,
WWW

24 comments:

Desiree Fawn | 7:52 AM

I am SO hungry right now! I can't wait to give these a try!

(Thank your mama for me ^_^)

Kayla | 7:56 AM

Hello Girls Gone Child's Mom :)

I will have an opportunity to carefully read this once I am home and not during work hours. BUT I did want you to know how much I love your weekly addition. Your pictures are stunning and you make food (even beets) look so yummy. BECAUSE OF YOU, I have given up meat. I have given up anything that stands on four legs and flys. I will most likely never give up seafood but take it from me this is a very big accomplishment.

THANK YOU for making veggies so utterly yums..

LOVE AND HUGS
Kayla

Steph(anie) | 8:26 AM

Off topic here, I'm too lazy to find your email address... have you seen this video of twins? http://shine.yahoo.com/event/momentsofmotherhood/twin-baby-boys-have-a-conversation-2469953/

LatteLove | 8:53 AM

i love your mom's recipe posts! never thought of putting beets on a salad.
yummmm.

Baby in Broad | 9:12 AM

Gorgeous. Now I know what I'm doing with the beets in my fridge!

I wish I were brave enough to try growing my own greens! I inherited a black thumb.

~ Noelle

Kate | 9:40 AM

A word of warning on using hearts of palm: their harvesting in a number of countries (notably Ecuador) has been linked to deforestation in general, and in particular, Amazon deforestation. Do a little research to make sure the brand you use isn't contributing to the problem; one of the more widely-available AND ethical brands is Trader Joe's. (I swear, they aren't paying me to say this.)

Lee | 9:49 AM

I really love your posts, www. You are so creative, and your writing style is magnificent.
Angie
Ontario, Canada

Wendy Woolf | 10:01 AM

Kate, thanks for adding that. I am always very careful to look at EVERY label and I should mention that in my posts!

Washee Woman | 10:23 AM

I have a friend that mixes in nutritional yeast with her vinnagrette and it adds a wonderful texture and flavor. I can't wait until our Farmer's Market here in Kansas get's going again!

Kate | 11:15 AM

there must be something wrong w/me, because I like mixing strawberries w/artichokes or hearts of palm, or fruit w/tomatoes. it's all good to me!

Christine | 12:20 PM

To a reader here in Wisconsin - where inspiration for greens and happy eating is hard to come by when Spring doesn't really spring until mid-to-late April - this is a fantastic post. Having my own garden, not so much. It has been my express desire to eat more salads this spring/summer and this salad synopsis is just perfect. Thank you.

Amber | 12:36 PM

I love these eat well posts!

Wendy Woolf | 12:56 PM

Kate..nothing wrong with you. It's just that when you put too many conflicting flavors together it can confuse the taste buds and the salad become sort of a mish-mosh. Fruits have a subtleness to them that can get easily overpowered by other strong flavors but they shine center stage when there isn't so much competition.

Alicia | 2:09 PM

WWW: Did you raise Rebecca as a vegetarian? Did she/is she raising her children as vegetarians?

I recently found out that I am pregnant and I am a vegetarian. My hope would be to raise my children as such. My husband's cousin, however, is a nurse and has said in the past that if ever we had children they would not get the proper brain development in the first 3 years if not provided with meat in their diet. Since proper nutrition would require protein, not meat, I don't understand her argument since complete proteins can be created in a meatless diet.

I guess I'm just looking for someone with experience and completely healthy children to back me up. I tried searching the internet but no dependable sources came back as hits.

Lynne | 3:24 PM

I eat beets in every salad I make, but don't make them myself.. I buy them steamed and peeled (Melissa's or Trader Joe's).
Soooooo, I would like to know at what temperature and for how long to roast them as directed in the above post. I want to try it out myself :)

Wendy Woolf | 5:39 PM

Alicia, I just became a vegetarian a few years ago so I didn't raise my kids vegetarian. That being said, Rebecca IS raising hers vegetarian (occasionally they have fish but not often) and they are both healthy and thriving. Here is a great article http://www.vegsource.com/attwood/vegkid.htm for you to read with great scientific evidence. I would suggest reading The China Study, too. Most doctors and nurses have been brainwashed to believe that kids need meat and dairy. This is because their nutrition books are made by and paid for by the meat and dairy industry!! Talk about lobbying! The fact is, nobody needs protein. We need amino acids which is what proteins are made from. As long as we have a diet rich in lots of different healthy whole foods, we are getting all of the amino acids we need. We also get lots of protein from other sources besides meat anyway...nuts, soy, quinoa etc.

Lynn, roast the beets (covered in aluminum foil) at 45O for about 45 minutes (if beets are large, increase to an hour).

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 6:19 PM

Alicia - what my mom said. They do eat dairy (cheese, yogurt) eggs and nuts and occasionally fish.

As for health benefits of meat for kids - it's just not true. The healthiest kids I know are vegetarians, including my own. (Archer missed one day this entire school year because of sickness. Fable has had the flu once in her entire life.)

Trust your gut. There are PLENTY of high protein solutions out there that aren't meat. Good luck!

Pretzel Thief | 6:42 PM

Wendy, to echo many of the previous comments, loooooove your contribution to GGC! Always makes me want to whip up whatever it is you're writing about (and so passionately, at that!).

Jen | 5:07 AM

This came at just the right time of year for us, as our CSA here in Ohio will be gearing up for distribution soon. Greens are heavy in those first few weeks, and everything else isn't in harvest yet. Last year we were overwhelmed by the offerings of all those lovely greens, and sometimes couldn't come up with yet another salad idea. Thanks for freeing us up for some lovely combinations!

Renee | 7:38 AM

That makes me actually want to eat the things I should be eating while pregnant!

Anonymous | 3:01 PM

Hey, Congratulations on Babies 2 &3.. I enjoyed reading some ofyour blog today - first time I saw it. Since I also noted, that you don't eat meat, I read an interesting article yesterday about Vitamin B12 consumption linked to crying in babies... since you are going to have two babies, you may want to minimize any crying... who knows how legit it was though!

Jen | 7:56 AM

Thank you for the new salad ideas! I love salads but often get stuck in a rut with how to diversify them!

mommymae | 6:40 AM

i have beets popping up in my garden! will definitely have to try this! i love beets!

Hillary Brooke | 5:02 PM

I'm kind of in awe with you...your book, your life, etc...we should really be friends, so much in common and a strong liking for using the f-word in writing.

I'm going to buy your book, and use it as motivation to finally fucking finish my novel.

xo,
Hb

ps: Love me some beet salad!