Garden fresh salad
Whoa has it been long since my last post! The month of april just flew by, with end semester submissions, group work, discussion, farewells and an eager, restless wait for the colour and warmth of spring.I am glad to report that the semester is wrapped up, well almost, only one more submission to go, yipeee! But the weather has been playing peekaboo with us, residents of the eastern seaboard of America. One day its sunny, breezy and touching the high 20’s (celsius) and the next or even the same evening its pouring cats and dogs with flood warnings on weather updates. There is something seriously bipolar about this year’s spring. Anyway, wherever you are, I hope you have better luck!
We had a guest post last month and are working on getting another great dessert to you soon, so keep watching this space.
Today’s recipe is a simple salad that can be prepared in a jiffy. It is great for those on a calorie watch. Do not mistake that to mean bland, far from it, there is enough flavour in it to keep you coming back for more. The great thing about the vinaigrette is that it’s oil free. I have realised that we really do not need to add any fat to the salad dressing!
Prep time: 20 minutes, serves 2-4.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups, baby spinach, washed and patted dry.
1 cup baby arugula, washed and patted dry.
*Optional: lettuce, your choice, washed and coarsely chopped. You might also like cabbage, green or red.
1 regular cucumber, washed, peeled and diced.
*When using baby cucumbers or english cucumber, I wash them thoroughly and do not peel them. They are naturally sweeter than the usual cucumber.
1/2 pound i.e. 250 gms french beans, blanched and chopped.
1 tomato, diced.
1/2 red onion, sliced in rings.
2 links of fully cooked chicken sausage.
*You can replace this completely with paneer or tofu.
*Celery leaves for garnish, i.e. if you are fond of celery. You can also add some of it diced in similar size to the cucumber. Otherwise use coriander leaves for garnish.
*Paneer, I used some homemade paneer. It can be crumbled over the salad or mixed in sliced. Alternately, use goat cheese, just about 1 tbsp, crumbled.
2 tbsp, White Balsamic Vinegar.
1 tsp, soy sauce.
Salt to taste.
Pepper to taste.
Red chilli powder, to taste, optional.
Pinch of sugar.
A sprinkle of dried herbs; oregano, basil, thyme.
A dash of lemon juice, from half a lemon.
Green olives, pitted, halved.
First, get all your ingredients together. For the greens, the first step should always be a good, thorough water bath, followed by draining them in a sieve and then washing them once more. Repeat this cycle until there is no dust left behind in the vessel used for the water bath. You can skip this if you are using pre-washed baby spinach and arugula. I would still recommend at least washing the leave once before using. Do the same for any leaves used for garnishing, coriander or celery leaves.
After the wash, pat them dry with a kitchen towel, you may also use a paper towel.
Second, wash the rest of the vegetable, i.e. cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and chop them as desired. Try to keep the sizes and shapes similar, it makes the salad look well put together. Chop the chicken sausages. I always use fully cooked sausages and usually with some flavour. For the onions, slice them into circle and then pull apart to separate each ring. Slice paneer or if using goat cheese, crumble it on top before serving. The great thing about paneer is that if you are vegetarian, you can eliminate the chicken sausage and increase the amount of paneer. Another great option would be tofu. Half the pitted, green olives. I am fond of mediterranean flavours and therefore try to add olives wherever I can! 🙂
Next put a pot of water to boil for blanching french beans. For half a pound (250 gms) you will need about 2-3 cups of water. While this is boiling, mix the vinaigrette, make sure you stir it well in order to combine all ingredients. The longer it sits, the better the blend of flavours. I add soy sauce because of its sweet saltiness. It goes well with the acidic, sour flavour of balsamic vinegar. To the vinaigrette add onion rings and olives while you put together rest of the ingredients in a serving bowl.
Once the water is boiling, throw in the beans. Cook them only for a minute of two. Drain them and wash with cold water. Then chop them into one inch pieces.
In a serving bowl, add salad leaves, chopped cucumber, tomatoes, sausages, blanches beans, paneer and finally pour the vinaigrette over it, giving it a good toss to coat all ingredients. Garnish with coriander or celery leaves. If you absolutely cannot do without bread, then toast a slice and eat in along with this zesty, tangy, salad. Enjoy!