Hi friends! I am excited to start sharing a series of posts dedicated to my favorite leafy vegetables: salad greens! The wonderful folks over at Fresh Express have asked me to be a part of their Fresh Express Artisan Ambassador program as they launch their new line of artisan lettuce blends. Myself and three other bloggers will be sharing recipes for healthy and delicious salads, as well as hosting a little recipe contest, and even helping you learn new things about lettuce along the way. In addition to that, I will be growing four different types of lettuces that are featured in the Fresh Express artisan blends to demonstrate that the lettuce they chose is truly that is in-season. Are you ready to get started?
I am planning to showcase this lovely lettuce with recipes ranging from simple to sophisticated, and today I will start by sharing my most simple and favorite weekday salad. For this salad, I used the Sierra Crisp Herb blend, which contains sierra green leaf lettuce, red butter lettuce, parsley, and even cilantro! Is it any wonder that I loved it?
This salad is so easy to make and soooo fresh and healthy that I eat some variation of it at least once (if not twice) every week. It is like my own little not-so-dirty secret and the ace in my pocket that helps keep me in skinny jeans even though I can't resist cookies and ice cream.
Basically, I start with beautiful greens, and add whatever vegetables or fruits I have on hand. In most cases I love to use the combination of ripe tomatoes, carrots and avocado, because they are so colorful and taste great together. Other times, I might use celery for its crunch, or strawberries or raspberries for their sweetness. Always, I use something creamy or rich such as the avocado or maybe feta, blue cheese, or egg. As a bonus, adding cheese, egg, nuts, or chicken also ups the ante by giving you a solid dose of protein with your veggies. I think a really important part of making salads appetizing, instead of something "green" to be tolerated, is including things like cheese that make you want to eat them.
Once I have all my ingredients prepped and ready to go, I put my lettuce in a large, wide bowl and just swirl the outside rim of the bowl with extra virgin olive oil once or twice. I try to avoid getting the oil directly on too much of the lettuce so that I don't oversaturate any once piece. Then I toss all the lettuce around in the bowl so it gets a nice, light, even coating of the oil which will help any spices or vinegar you add later get more evenly distributed.
Next, I add all my remaining vegetables and fruits, and then I season the salad with vinegar and spices. My go-to vinegar is Balsamic, but I also often use Sherry vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar as well. For your salads, go with what is in your pantry, this is supposed to be easy!
For spices, I always always always use dried oregano. This spice somehow adds an earthy depth to any salad in a really subtle way that is fantastic. If you grow oregano in your garden, it is a perfect herb to dry and crumble whenever you need it throughout the year. In addition to oregano, I always add salt and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes, if I am feeling a little wild, I might also add a little garlic or onion powder too. (But only if my boyfriend is not around; he must have vampiric senses because he can tell when I have eaten even the tiniest amount of garlic.)
When everything is assembled, all you need to do is toss it together and you have a perfectly healthy, beautiful salad for an easy weekday lunch or dinner. If you are eating for one, this salad is a great way to get all your vegetables, and a little protein too (if you add cheese, nuts, etc.). If you are feeding a family, a salad like this one would be a breeze to whip up and divide into four bowls to round out a well-balanced meal.
I almost feel silly talking about this salad as a 'recipe' since it is really just a collection of fresh ingredients and my tips for making it excellent; nonetheless, I think it is important to share these ideas with you because this is really what I eat and I love it! Plus, we all know that every day can't be filled with gourmet foods and multi-step recipes, and having the 'idea' of a salad like this means you can always quickly rustle up something healthy and delicious.
Easy Everyday Salad
(enough salad to serve 4)
Everything about this salad is to taste. Add more or less tomatoes, throw in some cheese or egg for protein and flavor. Choose some different vegetables or fruits for variety. Use as much or as little oregano as you want (just make sure you use some). What I am providing here is a guideline for making a healthy, easy salad. That simple.
1 bag of Fresh Express Sierra Crisp Herb blend lettuce**
2-3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 10-15 grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 carrots, peeled and shaved into slices (using a vegetable peeler)
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (optional)
Quality extra virgin olive oil
Dried, crushed oregano
Garlic powder (optional)
Salt and Pepper
Place the lettuce in a large, wide bowl. If you feel comfortable, just take the bottle of oil and swirl it once or twice around the inside edge of the bowl (or, measure about 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl and pour it around the edge). Toss the lettuce in the oil, then top with the vegetables, spices, and a splash of balsamic vinegar (or, add about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar depending on preference). Mix everything together well and enjoy.