Great Ingredients to Add to your Salad | Day 26 of 31 Days of Salad

posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012

I met Marie last year in Mexico at Food Blog Camp. She introduced me to two very addicting things - the game Angry Birds and the books The Hunger Games. Marie is super fun. She's also super smart and a great writer, photographer, and cook. You have to check out her blog Meandering Eats. You can also find Marie on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks Marie your your great post.

I recently visited my sister-in-law to celebrate her baby shower. She's been telling me that pregnancy can be rough, but at least the clothes are comfortable. Loose dresses, empire-waisted tops, and pants that look like everyday jeans or cordoroys (and fit like them), but are equipped with elastic waist bands. To my husband's dismay, I may have explored the possibility of buying a pair of these pants. Clearly, I'm in need of a few weeks of cleansing salads to get myself back into shape.

So, when Da asked for a guest post, I was happy to oblige for the sake of a swift kick in the non-elastic-waisted pants. Yet, at the latter part of a month of salads, I was a little stumped as to an interesting salad recipe. I thought I'd talk a little about my favorite salad ingredients. Some can add a few calories, but they also add a lot of flavor, which helps me stick to a healthier regimen. One of the best ways to bring lots of flavor, but not a lot of crud, to a salad is to make vinaigrette. Store-bought salad dressings tend to have a lot of sodium, fat, and other unhealthy ingredients, so making your own ensures control over what goes into the salad. I like Mark Bittman's super-simple vinaigrette and scale the ingredients down for a single serving in a jar. Put the lid on, take it to work, and shake it up when I'm ready for lunch. Dried fruits, like cranberries, raisins, or currants, are fantastic additions whether or not fresh fruit is available. I find that dried fruits pair excellently with nuts. Pictured above are pistachios and candied walnuts.

On the other hand, we're extremely lucky here in California to have fresh fruit year-round. In January, citrus is the most common, but so are apples and pears. I love adding fruit to a salad. Healthy, simple, and a sweet contrast to the saltier dressing. Also, fruit can be added to the vinaigrette. Think about raspberry vinegars or lemon oils. Cheese is an excellent topper, but too much defeats the point of a salad. I love a simple chevre and for more flavor, mixed in dukkah seasoning. The dukkah is smoky and nutty, which works perfectly with tart goat cheese.

Root veggies like beets and fennel taste fantastic. I like to roast them and I know some like to add the raw fennel fronds to salad. One of my favorite salads is arugula, roasted beets, grapefruit, chevre, and another favorite topping: fresh mint. Top with a simple vinaigrette and it's a salad that is flavorful and filling. In the summer, add pine nuts and swap out the grapefruit for watermelon. Salads like these keep me out of the maternity-wear stores... although those elastic-waistbands are still extremely tempting.


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