Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad

Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad The arrival of spring means that seasonal fruits and vegetables are in season. Produce like asparagus, strawberries, leafy greens and rhubarb among others.

We look through some of our favorite past cooking magazine issues and possibly yours as well to find the perfect spring salads.

Your family will love these vibrant, colorful and delicious salads. If you want to make a meal out of them, just add some chopped cooked chicken, or fish, like salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Both featured salads serve a table of four.

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan Cheese

Vinaigrette 

1 cup halved fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar *see recipe notes below

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1 teaspoon raw local honey (local to your area)
Add ingredients to a blender and blend until well mixed.

Recipe Notes

Aged balsamic vinegar may not be economical for you, as I thought it wasn’t for me. Unless you plan to regularly use it. A bottle of 12 year old aged balsamic vinegar is around $40 a bottle.

What we did, is brought a 1/2 cup of regular balsamic vinegar infused with strawberry (you can also opt for blueberry or pomegranate) to a boil over high heat in a small ceramic coated skillet. Cook until the vinegar begins to thicken and becomes syrupy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool then follow vinaigrette recipe above.

Salad Ingredients

1 cup walnut halves

We found a cool way to candy the walnuts, and credit goes to private chef Chris Crary  with his candied walnut recipe featured at California Walnuts.

1/2 cup California walnuts

1 egg white

1 ounce sugar

2 tablespoons walnut oil

Salt to taste

Beat egg white until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and mix in to peaked egg white. Next add the walnuts and coat with the egg mixture. Place in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Once mixture is cool, toss in walnut oil. Set aside.

16 ounce bag of arugula

2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup candied walnuts

Shaved Parmesan

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan CheeseIn a large salad bowl, combine arugula, strawberries and candied walnuts. Plate salad and drizzle with vinaigrette and top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

To make salad a meal, when mixing salad ingredients, add a cup or two of your choice, chopped cooked chicken, salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

1 grapefruit with white flesh, peeled, pith removed, and dice segments

5 ounce package of mixed greens

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

5 ounce package smoked salmon, flake with a fork

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of sweet garlic mustard (we found this at Whole Foods Market)

1 tablespoon of EV olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit SaladMix lemon juice, mustard, oil, salt and pepper to a large salad bowl.  Next add mixed greens, grapefruit, avocado, and smoked salmon. Toss until well coated with vinaigrette. Plate and serve.

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Ingredients For Delicious Winter Salads

An younf woman eating a warm winter saladFood crops harvested in winter months with the use of hoop houses or hot houses (such as used in California, USA) and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter produce to choose from.

What winter produce that is available, is sufficient to enjoy delicious winter salads along with great homemade dressings and vinaigrette’s.

The different crops available in the winter months include among others:

Beets: Available in season from fall through spring in temperate climates, and those available during the summer months, are from storage.

Belgian Endive: This leafy green is forced to produce under artificial conditions, making them available year round. Their traditional season, as with all chicories, is late fall through winter.

When grown in open fields they are covered with sand for about 6 months to keep out the light. When grown in hot houses they are placed in darkness for 6 months before shipping to market for purchase.

Read more here about the endive (includes a recipe with video): Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken

Broccoli: This and all other cruciferous vegetables can be grown year-round in temperate climates, but broccoli tastes best when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.

salad plate with Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are part of the cabbage family.  They grow on stalks, and they last somewhat longer than when sold packaged or removed from their stalks.

Cabbage: This vegetable is crispy when raw with bitter flavor, though it mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked.

Sweet Potatoes: This root vegetable is often referred too or interchangeable with yams. The two vegetables are different though.

Most yams in the USA are sweet potatoes. Yams are dry and starchy, and grown mainly in Africa and Asia. They can weigh up too 100 pounds.

Sweet potatoes store very well and are available year round in warmer areas. Though their season is from late summer through winter.

Other vegetables available in fall to winter months include, radicchio, radishes, turnips, winter squash, rutabagas, parsnips, chard, collard greens, cress, spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, fennel, and celery among others.

There are also a verity of fruits in season during the winter months that you can enjoy in fruit salads, or as a snack. To view the available in season winter fruits link here: Fruits Info – Seasonal Fruits.

Salads To Enjoy In The Winter Months

Chilly temperatures, and dark winter days are traditionally suited to cheese, meat, and vegetable casseroles, including pastas. A salad filled with raw vegetables may not seem appealing in the cold winter.

But what if you could prepare a warm winter salad, like this one – Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts. This recipe is offered by a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator and certified health coach at A Food Centric Life.

THE RECIPE

Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

1 large bunch of organic kale (Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur)

a white salad plate with Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Image Credit: A Food Centric Life

1 large shallot

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

Handful of dried cranberries

Small handful of chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (suggestion: infused balsamic fruit flavored variety like dark cherry)

Salt and pepper, to season

Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.

When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.

In a medium sauté or fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, and then serve.

Make this a even more warm winter salad by either serving the warm salad as a side dish with roasted chicken, as Sally the author of “A Food Centric Life” explains, or as a foundation for roasted salmon. She also suggests placing the warm salad over a bed of quinoa for a vegetarian or vegan entree.

Sally says you can use a fruit flavored infused balsamic vinegar like dark cherry or fig when making the vinaigrette.

Another great warm winter salad you can enjoy is: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil

salad plate with Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet½ cup onion, diced

Red pepper flakes, to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups sweet potatoes, diced

2 cups fresh shrimp

3 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped kale leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a a ceramic coated cast iron pan over medium heat, add olive oil.

Next add onions and red pepper flakes, and saute until onions are soft and browned.

Next add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.

Next add sweet potato and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes. If necessary add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to help cook the sweet potato.

Next add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are pink in color.

Turn heat to low and add kale, stirring in until wilted.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (optional).

Plate and serve.

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How To Use Avocados In Your Culinary Adventures

Avocado salad and tuna. Isolated on a white background.Avocados are a popular fruit, though used like a vegetable, can find its way into almost any dish. It just seems that when adding avocados to a culinary or baked good, the dish has been enriched. Like this one at Tracy’s Culinary Adventures – Fudgy Triple Chocolate Avocado Brownies, Bobby Flay‘s Crunchy Avocado Salad, or how about pairing avocado slices with grapefruit as in Simply RecipesGrapefruit Avocado Salad.

Avocados have a lot of descriptive words to explain its flavor. Such as a creamy, buttery, and smooth fruit, with distinctive colors like bright yellow and green. Their aroma can be described as floral, green, grassy, freshness, and earthy.

The texture of the fruit is a butter rich melt in your mouth taste and feeling.

How To Pit An Avocado

Pitting an avocado is not hard at all. As a matter of fact you can become a pro in no time once you know the technique.

Avocado Trivia

list with pictures of avocado varieties

Image Credit: 17 Park Side

Do all avocado varieties taste the same? What do you think, yes they do, or no they do not? If you decided on, “No they do not,” you are correct.

There are taste variations between the different varieties of avocados available for consumption.

Not only does the variety determine the taste but it is also affected by the season and how ripe the avocado well get.

It is recommended to taste test the avocados that come into season and are fully ripe, so that you can see which ones you prefer to use in your recipes.

The summer and Fall season avocado favorite among many individuals is the Hass, and the spring season avocado favorite is the Fuerte.

Just remember you can get these avocados out of season because of international trading of produce, but they will not taste the same as when having them in season.

Tips To Selecting A Ripe Avocado

The appearance of a ripe avocado will vary based on the avocado you are selecting.

The Hass variety is one of the creamiest, making it suitable for spreads, dips, and any recipe requiring mashed avocado. Other varieties are firmer and better when consumed in whole slices or chunks.

man shopping for produceThe way to tell if the avocado is ripe or not is to hold the avocado in one hand, and place the thumb of the other hand over the small stem, then gently try and see if you can move the stem.

If stem is firmly in place and cannot be easily removed, that is an indication that the avocado is still not ripe.

The fruit should be fairly heavy and free of blemishes.

To ripen an unripe avocado for use, place it on the counter at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. It would be best not to refrigerate it, as refrigeration halts the ripening process, so you should not store unripe avocados in the refrigerator unless they have already been cut open.

Avocados ripen after they are harvested and not on the tree. If you are picking an avocado off a tree, you should pick a large one with even, dark coloring and a firm texture. After picking it, you will need to let the fruit harden on the counter for 2 to 7 days before it will be ripe and be ready to eat.

If you do not plan to eat the avocado immediately, it is in your best interest to buy an avocado that is still unripened. A ripe avocado will usually only last for a few days in the refrigerator.

To speed up the ripening process, place the avocado in a brown bag with an apple or a banana. These two fruits will release a gas called ethylene, a chemical linked to the ripening process.

Here is our featured recipe using an avocado.

Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocado

1 avocado

Avocado salad and tuna. Isolated on a white background.1 lemon, juiced, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped onion, to taste

5 ounces cooked or canned wild tuna

2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Cut the avocado in half and scoop the middle of both avocado halves into a bowl, leaving a shell of avocado flesh about ¼-inch thick on each half. Cut removed flesh into small chunks.

Add lemon juice and onion to the avocado in the bowl and mash together. Add tuna, avocado chunks, dill, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust if needed.

Fill avocado shells with tuna salad and serve.

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Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad

Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad - close upWith chicken breasts on hand that are skinless, and boneless , you can always have something quick and satisfying to eat for dinner. Whether you grill, boil, pouch or roast, there will always be an easy chicken breast recipe for any occasion.

roasting skinless, boneless chicken breasts with coconut oilBoneless chicken breasts are a go to fresh meat choice for any time-pressed home cook and their kitchen because they’re quicker to cook than bone-in chicken breasts.

Brushing the chicken breasts with a cooking oil (preferably olive, coconut, or avocado oils) or marinade before roasting or broiling helps prevent the chicken breasts from drying out.

For a quick lunch or dinner, it is really easy to incorporate chicken breast into salads, or pastas (Link here for ideas using chicken and leafy greens as: Salads as a Main Course).

We have the roasted chicken breast recipe, and all you have to do is choose the occasion. Our featured recipe is, Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad. Just 45 minutes from start to finish, and here is what you will need.

4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless

3-4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3 medium rainbow carrots shredded, one each: yellow, purple, orange

1/2 cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1/4 ginger cilantro dressing, best choice is Paleo Chef

Boston Lettuce leaves, about 8 pieces

melted coconut oil Slice breasts into two’s horizontally. Melt coconut oil (it is bought solid, but melts above 76 degrees), and place into a 13 X 9 glass baking dish.

chicken breasts coated with coconut oilNext coat chicken in oil on both sides. You will note that the coconut oil will solidify once again on the cold chicken breasts, as they are colder than 76 degrees.

Place baking dish in to oven on middle rack and roast for 10 minutes, than turn breasts and roast another 10 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees internal temperature.

heating shredded carrots and dried cherries in hot water

While cooking the chicken, you can prepare the salad. Boil some water in a small pot, about 2 cups. Place shredded carrots and dried cherries into a medium glass mixing bowl, and add boiling water. Set aside for 3 minutes.

rinsing shredded carrots and dried cherries under running water Next drain water and rinse carrots and cherries in a colander under running water, and pplace produce back into the glass bowl.

Carrot Ginger Salad

Next add the chopped cilantro with the 1/4 cup of Ginger Cilantro dressing (by Paleo Chef), and mix together. Set aside.

Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot SaladNext plate a piece of Boston lettuce leaf, and place piece of chicken breast on top. Then top the chicken breast with the ginger carrot salad, and enjoy!!

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Purple Sweet Potato Cashew and Chicken Salad

Purple Sweet Potato Cashew and Chicken Salad

This recipe brings together flavors for an exciting salad as a main dinner selection. It features the sweet purple potato which roasts up very tasty, along with cashews, tender baby kale, chicken breast, and an all organic balsamic dressing purchased at the Whole Foods Market. It is a non-oil dressing that is gluten free, vegan friendly, and non-dairy. The main dressing ingredients includes blackberries, figs, and aged balsamic vinegar.

Let’s get to cooking and enjoy the video.

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Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

(close up) Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladAutumn gives way to cold days and nights. Just about all colors in nature have faded and plant life has gone dormant. But colors of nature are always at work, and they can be found in the foods we consume through the winter months.

Like Belgian endive, which peaks in late November and is generally available through early spring. Also available year round, are Brussels sprouts, which normally peak in the fall to early winter.

Through the winter we can obtain artichoke, bok choy, snow peas, and water cress. Of course most of that produce is green in color.

If you want to see color then feast your eyes on the red beets  as well as green and red apples, including green and red pears.

Fall winter produceThere is also oranges, blood oranges with its sweet red colored flesh, red pomegranates, and yellowish parsnips.

Not to forget cream skinned butternut squash with a deep orange hue colored flesh, and that brings us to our feature recipe: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad.

Here at Splendid recipes and More we keep the health conscience in mind who not only wish to eat healthy, but also wish to know the nutrient value of the food they consume.

Butternut squash has folate which helps to build a strong heart and prevent a heart attack. The function of folate is to work against compounds that compromise the structure of the blood vessels. A correlation between consuming foods that contain folate and reduced incidences of colon cancer.

Researchers have found that a vitamin A deficiency, caused by A carcinogen in cigarette smoke, contributes to a vitamin-A deficiency, which leads to the debilitating disease of emphysema. Any winter squash including butternut squash, are rich in vitamin-A, which research suggests  could protect against emphysema.

It would be ideal to stop smoking, a diet rich in vitamin A and beta-cryptoxanthin may protect lung health if a person choose not to quit or is daily exposed to cigarette smoke.

Now for the recipe, and here is what you will need.

1 lb. chicken breast, fat trimmed

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, sliced 2 to 3 inches long by ½ inch wide

8 cups baby spinach, washed

2/3 cup fresh goat cheese

½ cup pecan pieces

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan salt

Black pepper

Garlic powder

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

seasoned roasted chicken breast - Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

Arrange chicken breasts onto a glass baking dish, and sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder according to taste. Place into a 350 degree oven and roast 10 minutes. Turn breast over and reapply salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roast another 10 minutes. Check internal temperature of meat, if it is at least 160 degrees remove meat and set aside.

roasted butternut squash -  Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladPrepare butternut squash and place into a large bowl, but only after spooning in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven on 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or just until squash is baked but not soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladUsing four dinner plates, plate each with 2 cups of spinach.

Top with sliced chicken breast (about 4 to 5 slices) and 5 to 6 slices of roasted squash.

Top with pecans, and cheese, then pour on the Carrot and Ginger dressing (purchased at Whole foods Market). Serve and enjoy!

Salad can be eaten warm or cold, and served with fresh sourdough bread and real butter.

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Enjoying the New Main Dish Salads

Enjoying the New Main Dish SaladsWith all the latest information we have on the nutritional value of different fruits and vegetables, salads have become more than just a dinner salad. With the introduction of vegetables that include leafy greens and root vegetables, like black radishes, endive, kale, arugula, purple, white, and yellow carrots, just to name a few, and with an array of different fruits as well, like figs and pomegranates. They have always existed, but not common to the produce section, as in recent years.

close up for detail of Kale Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad

Kale Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad – Click to Get Recipe

If anyone can remember, kale always adorned a salad buffet bar, but was never part of the salad you would put on your plate.

As we mentioned at the on set of the article, salads have become more than just a dinner salad, they have now become a Main Dish Salad. Sure there has always been a Caesar Salad, and if you asked, they added chicken. But now there are a lot more dressed up salads, than just a Caesar Salad.

Chicken Curry with Mango and Spinach Salad...close up

Chicken Curry with Mango and Spinach Salad – Click to Get Recipe

Because of all the new options available to us, salads have become front and center as meals of their own. Main Dish Salads can prepare in 40 minutes or less. By the way, the term salad is even changing, the in thing is”leafy greens.”

To make Main Dish Salads, does require planning ahead to make sure you have all of the nutritious ingredients. This means working out a meal plan for the week, prepping, shopping, stocking your pantry, and cooking. It isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Sunday morning with your coffee, tea, or juice in hand, think what you and your family want for dinner the coming week. Once you have thought it out, make a list of the leafy greens, fruits and vegetables you will need, as well as the meat you want to top or mix into the Main Dish Salad.

Chicken Avocado and Watercress Salad - close-up

Chicken Avocado and Watercress Salad – Click to Get Recipe

Having a main dish salad is both healthy and time saving as they are prepared with vegetables and require little cooking and prep time. A main dish salad can be prepared to reflect the season (though with world trade, most produce is available year round).

Such as preparing main dish salads with produce that is naturally harvested in Spring (like beets, fava, leeks, herbs, peas etc.), Summer (like bell peppers, berries, corn, eggplant, peaches, zucchini and other summer squash etc.), Autumn (like cabbage, apples, figs, pears, broccoli, sweet potatoes etc.), and Winter (like endive, watercress, celery root, fennel, citrus, winter squash etc.).

Spanish Chicken Salad

Spanish Chicken Salad – Click to Get Recipe

As for the meat, use shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breast, breaded chicken, tuna, cooked beef, turkey, turkey ham, and pork ham. Include some cheese like goat, feta, Romano etc., and croutons if you wish.

Once you find the salad recipes you like, you can use the ingredients to create your own combinations of a Main Dish Salad.

Link here for more Main Dish Salad ideas: Salads as a Main Course 

 

 

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