Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Spring Has Sprung!
3 fresh, vibrant salads to enjoy
I am sure that we have all scrutinized our refrigerator shelves, door wide open, frown on our face, to try to rescue some poor leftover container that will bulk up our dinner salad. Although this has the merit of cleaning out some much needed space, I am talking about a more elaborate and voluntary gathering of items that certainly have value on their own but become more that the sum of their parts when they are allowed to shine in a salad. Think of it like the composition of a painting: it needs to tell a story!
There are a few elements to consider in doing so:
- Nutritional Value
Of course, the first element is easy to understand. In order to appeal to your taste buds, the salad needs to mix sweet and savory in a balanced and natural way. It might be the addition of a salty cheese to a butter lettuce that provides the necessary contrast. Think of the traditional Lettuce Wedge with its combination of blue cheese and iceberg, topped with a creamy yogurt dressing and crumbled bacon. The success of this dish resides in the contrast of taste in every bite. Olives or capers also add a touch of saltiness. Herbs will bring a strong contrast as well when you think of chives, oregano, tarragon or cilantro.
Color will appeal to your sense of sight and connect to your brain the message of an appetizing dish. Touches of reds (tomatoes, bell peppers), of greens (lettuce, herbs, bell peppers again) and of white (apples, shrimp or chicken) already scream “Eat me! Eat me!”.
The range of textures available in the ingredients we can use is so wide and vast that it is sad not to use it at your advantage to keep every biteful interesting and exciting. Add a few nuts for the crunch; cook your vegetables al-dente for a burst of juices and flavors (asparagus, zucchini, onions); vary the main support according to texture (romaine for crunch, arugula for a soft peppery bite, rice for a chewy support, pasta for a buttery bite).
A salad as a meal has to sustain you for a good four hours, so you definitely need to make it nutritionally loaded. The ingredients at your disposal are multiple and go beyond what you traditionally think of in a salad. Add leftover cooked salmon, shrimp, fish or thinly sliced steak from yesterday’s meal. Think protein and rinse a can of beans or lentils to add a much needed boost. Always make a little more quinoa, farro or wheat berries that you can add to your salad as an excellent source of protein. For the vegetarians out there, this is where your tofu will feel the most at home.
The variations are endless and the more you practice salads as a meal, the more you will impart your personal imagination on the dishes. In fact, there are many salads out there that do not use lettuce at all: pasta salads, salad nicoise, rice salad and all the ones we have yet to discover.
Butter Lettuce Salad
2 heads of butter lettuce
2 shallots very thinly sliced
4 slices of turkey bacon
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 bunch chives
Cut off the woodsy bottom of the asparagus. Bring a pan of water to a boil and drop the asparagus into it. Prepare another bowl with 2 cups ice and 2 cups water. When the asparagus have boiled for approximately 3 minutes (depending on size) remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the water bath to stop the cooking. Remove the asparagus from the water and drain on a paper towel.
Cook the turkey bacon to a crisp and remove from the pan. When cool enough to handle, cut or crumble it to bits and set aside.
Poach the eggs: Place 2 inches of water into a pan and bring to a simmer. Crack an egg into a wire-mesh sieve over a bowl and let the liquid portion of the egg white drain out. This is the portion that will make filaments of eggs into your water. Gently lower the sieve into the water and hold it there for 3 minutes until the egg white is solidly cooked and the yolk is still jiggly. Remove the egg from the water, gather it with a spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Continue with the remaining eggs.
Mix together the yoghurt, mustard, oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Place an equal amount of butter lettuce on each plate, sprinkle with sliced shallots. Add a dollop of greek yogurt dressing on top of the salad. Place one egg on top of the dressing and a few asparagus on the side. Sprinkle with the bacon bits and the chives.
Serve. As you poke into the egg yolk, it will run over the dressing and the salad. You can dip the asparagus into the egg yolk/dressing combination or eat the salad with all the ingredients mixed together.
I could not pass on the opportunity to share this fabulous salad which is traditional in France. If you love the taste of celery, this variation will wow you. It uses the bulb of the celery, which you can find at better grocery stores under the name of Celeriac or Celery Root.
Make sure you have time to let the flavors sit so that they can blend together in this highly refreshing dish.
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 pounds celery root
Prepare the dressing before grating the celery root as it might have a tendency to darken when grated. The lemon in the dressing will prevent this from happening so your dressing should be ready ti use.
Mix together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, mustard, salt, lemon juice, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Peel the celery root and grate it coarsely through the large grates of a food processor or a cheese grater.
Mix the dressing with the celery root and taste, adding additional salt, pepper, mustard, and lemon juice, to taste.
Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.
The salad will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator.
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Tabasco sauce
2 red bell peppers, trimmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 celery ribs, cut crosswise into fine slices
1 1/2 lb cooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup minced chives and cilantro
In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces and salt. Taste for seasoning and correct if needed. Add the red peppers and celery. Stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors develop.
Toss the shrimp with just enough sauce to lightly and evenly coat them. Add the chives and cilantro and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning. Mount the shrimp salad on plates and serve.