Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to make salads and a grapefruit-avocado salad recipe

Like I said in my last post, we eat a lot of salads. In this post, I show some of the delicious salads we have eaten and talk about different things you can do to make interesting salads a part of your life.

Here's a pretty basic one. It has lettuce, grape tomatoes (for some reason I like them way better than cherry tomatoes or sliced regular tomatoes), cucumbers, feta cheese, croutons, and sliced almonds. Dressed with Italian seasoning, olive oil, and vinegar. We have this salad or a very similar one most nights.
Pardon the ugly flash on this next one. My old camera wasn't very good at food photography. This is a salad Jon made for a crowd who came over to our place one night. I think the presentation is very nice with the cukes, red peppers, and beets on the top. The beets are also a little out-of-the-ordinary and make it special.
This one is a little fancier. I added some greens from our garden (kale, herbs, baby lettuce) and took inspiration (and leftover pears) from our main dish, pear-caramelized onion pizza, to take it up a notch.
In this one, I raided the garden for two beautiful carrots in addition to some greens, and I added chopped-up daikon (enormous Japanese radish) for a little change of pace. I like the presentation on this one too. I put red pepper strips on the side for a little interest. The carrots are very striking, too. (Side note: I love the new salad bowls we got for our wedding.)

This one has a carrot from the garden and a bunch of sprouts on top. (It uploaded sideways for some reason. It looks right in the folder I uploaded from, and I'm too lazy to fix it.)
Sometimes I use leftovers in my salads. This one that I brought into school has leftover cooked asparagus and some spinach, beet, or chard thinnings from my garden.
Sometimes I use a visual theme for my salads. For example, I cut all the non-lettuce vegetables into matchsticks or cubes. Or I use a color theme like this, one of my proudest salads. I went with a green-purple theme using baby beets, blackberries, red-tip lettuce and baby greens, herbs (including purple sage, Thai basil, and purple globe basil for their purple color), pumpkin seeds, and fresh garbanzos (coincidentally an upcoming post). Red and green is another good color theme. Or yellow and green. I bet orange and green would be fun, with carrots, orange peppers, and maybe even cooked sweet potato cubes. Or oranges or tangerines.
We don't do a lot with dressings. Usually I have my lemon-sesame dressing around, and it's a good all-purpose dressing. We also always have olive oil and a variety of vinegars, so we often just dress it to taste at the table. Or Jon will throw together a vinaigrette, often with mustard and herbs, while he's putting the salad together. We do keep some dressing from the store in the fridge at school for ease of salad-eating at lunch. In general, we dress them pretty lightly and simply because we like to taste the vegetables. And if we end up somewhere with salad and no dressing, we just eat the naked salad and enjoy it.

Sometimes I go a little further afield in my salad-making, like with this grapefruit-avocado salad. Often served over greens.
Sometimes with no greens.
This is a great winter salad, at least here where we get good avocados year-round. (I confess that I don't know their growing season. They're always in the grocery store here, and they're pretty much the same price year-round.) Grapefruits are really cheap and good here in the winter, so we eat this fairly often. This is barely a recipe, but I'm putting it here anyway. It's a pretty easy salad to assemble for lunch at your school or workplace if you have a knife. Just bring the whole grapefruit and avocado and make it in one bowl. It's more filling than most salads because avocados are so rich, so it can be a lunch in and of itself.

Grapefruit-avocado salad
Serves one if it's all you're having for lunch, two if you've got some other food.

One grapefruit
One avocado
Lettuce or baby greens, optional
Smoked Gouda or Parmesan cheese, optional
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Black pepper, optional

Peel the grapefruit. Remove as much of the pith and membrane as you feel like. Divide the grapefruit into segments. Cut the avocado in half. Remove the pit. Cut the avocado into thin wedges and remove from skin. Arrange grapefruit and avocado on bed of greens or plate. Add some cubes of smoked Gouda or shavings of Parmesan if desired. Dress with a little extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a little black pepper if you have it handy.

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