Friday, May 01, 2015
A Different Green Salad
Recently I was looking at a lot of restaurant menus online, trying to find a good place for Sweetie and I to have an anniversary dinner out. One of the things I noticed is that if you love kale you can always find a salad on contemporary menus. Arugula is also popular, and so are beets. The standard, at least around here, for salad greens seems to be field greens or spring mix. While I love all of those salad ingredients, they are all off the list of things that I can eat, along with spinach, Swiss chard and the like.
While I know that having salads more interesting than chopped iceberg with shredded carrots and maybe a few coins of radish is a good thing, I do know that there are lots of other kinds of salads that could be on the menus and maybe they will be once we all get tired of kale.
Years ago in Berkeley I came across a salad in a deli case that has been a favorite ever since. It's a pretty simple one, so it didn't take much effort to figure out how to make it at home. It is green, has some very healthy ingredients, goes together fairly quickly and uses an ingredient that seems to be available almost year round these days...broccoli.
Now I know there are folks who don't care for broccoli. To those folks I say...give it a chance! In this salad it gets dressed up in a nice creamy dressing, is complemented by sweet red bell pepper, salty feta cheese and nutty pecans.
The florets of the broccoli are cut into bite sized pieces. If you are frugal, and if you like the stems, include some of them, sliced. Put them in a microwave safe steamer, or in a steamer basket in a pot with a little water in the bottom. Before you start cooking them, dump a couple cups of ice cubes into a large bowl and add a few cups of water. That way the water will get icy while you deal with steaming the broccoli.
Steam the broccoli only long enough for it to become tender enough to bite in two. For my microwave that's 2 minutes on high. The color will be a fairly bright green. Immediately drain off any hot water and dump all the broccoli into the bowl with the ice water. Stir it around with a spoon or your clean fingers. The idea is to cool down the broccoli quickly. Then drain the broccoli completely.
While the broccoli drains, slice a half the fleshy part of a sweet red bell pepper in strips and cut the strips into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
In a small jar place 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, the juice and zest of one small or 1/2 large lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, some garlic powder or minced garlic (amount varies depending on how much you like garlic). Put a lid on the jar and shake briskly for a minute. Take off the lid, add 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, put the lid back on and shake again. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. You now have a creamy dressing.
Now you're ready to put together the salad. Place the broccoli, red pepper strips, a couple tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, and 2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pecans. Gently mix these ingredients together. Add the dressing and gently mix to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours.
It's a good idea to serve this salad with a slotted spoon to keep your plate from having a pool of dressing, but if you forget, it's really delicious dressing. The salad is even better and has lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber and all those 'healthy' things, but mostly it's a nice green salad that is absolutely delicious...and different than kale.