Preparing a healthy salad as sophisticated as your favorite restaurant is easier than you think. Here are some suggestions to help you put color, flavor, and variety in your salads.
When buying, the selected lettuce or greenery must be fresh, without any wilted, browned or soft leaves. In general, lettuce is rich in water, vitamins, minerals (calcium and potassium) and very low in calories. They are rich in antioxidants (vitamin C, E, and A) and moderately rich in dietary fiber. However, the more the leaves are colored, the more their contribution in minerals, vitamins, and trace elements is high!
Do not limit yourself to Iceberg lettuce. Buy a bag of spinach leaves, mixed lettuce, sprouts, and sprouts (alfalfa, watercress) and add a few handfuls to your favorite lettuce. These mixes add variety to the menu while adding a refined and colorful touch to your salads. A very popular choice by restaurateurs! Finally, when you try different varieties of lettuce, prefer dark-colored varieties, they contain more nutrients.
- Wash lettuce at the very last minute and in cold water. Sprinkle well in a salad basket or with a dry cloth. To cut it, it is better to tear it by hand than to cut it with the knife to prevent the oxidation which destroys vitamin C.
- Play with the colors, flavors, and textures of different lettuces to prepare an original salad that offers both taste and nutrition.
- Raw, grilled or blanched vegetables make excellent additions: green or yellow beans, yellow peppers, reds, oranges, asparagus, snow peas, edamame (shelled soybeans), onions, etc.
- Fresh, dried or grilled fruits add a touch of color and sweetness: peaches, pineapples, grapes, strawberries, oranges, pears, cranberries, pomegranate, etc.
- For more crunch, protein and good fats why not add nuts or seeds, such as walnuts, roasted almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and even ground flax seeds!
- Fresh herbs are in high season and easily accessible either in our gardens or in supermarkets. Add some mint leaves, basil, cilantro, Italian parsley or chives.
- Radicchio, arugula, leaf lettuce, roasted pears, walnuts
- Watercress, honeydew or cantaloupe balls, pecans
- Watercress, chicory, tangerine and orange quarters
- Chicory, red grapes, pine nuts, parmesan cheese shavings
- Mesclun, grilled goat cheese, beets
- Spinach, clementine wedges, red onions, pumpkin seeds
- Radicchio, apple slices, gorgonzola, caramelized pecans
- Spinach, pear slices, raisins, sunflower seeds, blue cheese
- Romaine, radicchio, pink grapefruit quarters, avocado
- Mesclun, tangerine quarters, beets, almonds, red onion
- Watermelon, light feta cheese, mint, arugula
Who Says Salad, Says Vinaigrette!
Whether commercial or home, any salad drenched under a vinaigrette becomes less interesting. In general, I encourage people to eat as fresh as possible, which is also true for salad dressings.
Commercial salad dressings are high in sodium, additives and are not always prepared with good fats. Did you know that a tablespoon of Caesar vinaigrette contains fatter than two tablespoons of carton or two slices of bacon? Home-made salad dressings are often tastier, healthier and ready to go. Just combine at least one ingredient from the following categories:
- Oils: olive, hazelnut, sesame, pistachio, etc.
- Kinds of vinegar: wine, balsamic, rice, cider, fruit, sherry. Lemon or lime juice can also replace vinegar.
- Non-fat plain yogurt, light sour cream, low-fat cottage cheese, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, or pureed fresh fruit for a creamy vinaigrette, without the use of cream or mayonnaise!
- Seasonings: For vinaigrettes with even more flavors and variety, add pesto, tapenade, dried tomatoes, garlic, fresh or dried herbs, spices, etc.
Lettuces can only be stored for a few days in the refrigerator, preferably with a damp paper towel and a perforated or unsealed plastic bag. The firmer and more crispy leaves (Roman, Iceberg), the longer the shelf life. The dwarf varieties of various lettuce with tender and fragile leaves, such as watercress, escarole, rocket and chicory, are very perishable and should be consumed as quickly as possible.