Salad Days | Seventh Generation
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Salad Days

Author: the Inkslinger

If we're invited to dinner by friends or relatives, I can guarantee you one thing: My wife and I will be asked to bring a green salad.

I'm a bit mystified by this. We are pretty accomplished cooks, and a good garden salad seems pretty easy to concoct. Yet so many of our acquaintances claim inability. "Yours tastes better," they say. So, in an effort to bring the joys of salad days to one and all, here are our Principles of Salad Design:

  1. Do not be constrained by tradition. Salad in America is often reduced to an artless mélange of lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber, and maybe a little onion or green pepper. You, however, will think outside the bowl and embrace new ingredients with wild abandon.
  2. Ditch the iceberg lettuce. It's flavorless and perhaps the most nutritionally vacant food on Earth. Instead, go for mesclun mix, spring greens, baby spinach, or a similar leafy green as a salad base.
  3. Scour the garden and the produce section. What's in season? What looks good? Could be anything. We'll combine greens with fresh tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, onion, red peppers, zucchini, cabbage, bean sprouts, or radishes, all in the same salad!
  4. Visit the canned veggie aisle. This is for sheer convenience. You can prepare these fresh, but when the hour's late and the kids are hungry, canned saves relationships. So we'll add canned beets, green beans, artichoke hearts, chick peas, and some black or kidney beans for protein. Yes -- all together with all the other stuff!
  5. Get chunky. Chop everything into small chunks if it's not already so you can fit a host of different flavors into every bite and make each forkful an adventure in new taste combinations.
  6. Prepare the sprinkles! We serve our salads with little bowls of dried cranberries, roasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, and things like chopped almonds and crumbled feta or goat cheese that everyone can sprinkle on top.
  7. DIY your dressing. Forget chemically-intensive store-bought stuff. Make yours from a (roughly) 2:1 mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add a clove or two of pressed garlic, a little Dijon mustard, maybe a spot of maple syrup. Stick in an old jar, add salt and pepper to taste, and shake like crazy.
  8. Make a ton. You'll want leftovers. (Tip: put salad dressing only on the portion you want to serve at the first meal, then save the rest without dressing until you are ready to use it.) For lunch the next day, you can turn this veggie goodness into a killer chef's salad by adding chopped ham, turkey and/or hard-boiled egg. Or add canned or fresh-cooked salmon, or serve with chopped grilled chicken.

Try it and see. And you'll never again have to ask what you can bring to the potluck!

photo: SweetOnVeg


dipsidoodle picture
I love to chop my baked potato and mix it into my salad! I get the benefit of the salad dressing soaking into my potato which means no butter or sour cream added to my hips. I also crumble corn bread into my salads. Add a bowl of soup beans without the ham, and healthy hog heaven! Don't judge; I'm from Kentucky! My salads look like they ran through the organic produce section, and skipped through the dried foods section as well.
bfit12 picture
What's so healthy about these:chopped ham, turkey and/or hard-boiled egg. Or add canned or fresh-cooked salmon, or serve with chopped grilled chicken. and what so green about these: canned beets, green beans, artichoke hearts, chick peas, and some black or kidney beans ???
artylouie picture
We once owned property at a beach town, and initially it was just a transportable building and a caravan and we used to get down there every weekend or holiday. I had three small beds containing herbs and silver beet. I could always go out and pick enough to make a salad, and in winter when the herbs were not producing as well as later in the year, I would add fruit to it. It was always very enjoyable. Of course, I still do that, even if with larger beds. Somehow it always tasted better when I didn't have as much to play with and could supplement with other surprises.
Janette St Pierre picture
Janette St Pierre
Just a note to say that it is appreciated that you are bringing attention to the insidious inside job of Monsanto and his monopoly of degrading our precious food supply by creating "Round-Up ready" genetically modified seeds only to get richer, with no conscience regarding our quality of food or health. People B4 Profits!!!! Thank you Seventh Generation for helping to conserve our limited natural resources so that Earth can sustain itself, and our childrens childrens children. Let's all leave a legacy of our planets beauty, and our amazing wildlife, not one of greed and ignorance!! Keep up the great work!!!
beccadog picture
Marinated or not, tofu comes from soybeans of which 95 percent are genetically modified with a bacterium to basically drink herbicides containing glyphosate. If you think meat is potentially harmful, you should reconsider putting tofu in your salad. Monsanto was down in Louisiana with the USDA putting organic soybean farmers out of business because they claimed their patented DNA was in the farmers fields. This has been occurring all over the Americas --North and South America, wherever soy is grown is contaminated with Genetically modified soy. Part of the reason may be because throughout the USA, Monsanto is planting Genetically Modified soy and corn in National Wildlife Refuges. According to the Center for Food Safety newsletter: "The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has allowed farming of genetically engineered soybeans and corn on several National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeast Region. The Service’s Southeast Region (Region 4) is home to a rich diversity of natural resources spread across 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Center for Food Safety is concerned that, among other things, the Fish & Wildlife Service made the approval without considering the risks to the environment or wildlife posed by cultivating genetically engineered crops in these refuges. National Wildlife Refuges are important places for wildlife and serve as wintering and breeding habitat for migratory waterfowl, among other restorative purposes. Genetically engineered crops have no place in wildlife refuges..." There are myriad of National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana and activists are needed to pull those crops out. They contaminate soy and corn grown on small farms and even in backyards. Not to mention, they may kill wildlife, just as they have killed some livestock. Genetically Modified Soy and corn should not be planted in wildlife refuges.
sschus picture
It's also tasty to add any leftover cooked vegetables you might have in your frig. An extra fast and easy salad that's exceptionally healthy is fresh kale, dried cranberries and sliced almonds. Dress it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
hfurst picture
I like to also throw in some fresh fruit, clementines are great because they are seedless, grapes and pears with some feta cheese and top with pecans or walnuts, I usually leave the nuts on the side, we have a nut allergy in our home, one of our favorite summer salads is a simple cabbage salad, green cabbage, green apple, raisins. Toss with a little mayo and lemon juice( I like to use the Ojai lemonaisse) toss well and top with roasted or raw sunflower seeds or pepitas
Jude113 picture
During strawberry/spinach season, I like strawberry spinach salad with caramelized walnuts. I dress the spinach with honey lemon poppyseed dressing: lemon juice and walnut oil followed by honey and poppy seeds to taste. Seasonal berries such as blueberries and strawberries pair well with green leaf lettuce or romaine dressed with an orange vinaigrette. The possibilities are endless!
Jude113 picture
Some of the best salads start with mixed greens, green leaf, romaine or spinach followed by fruit. My favorite combinations include apple, dried cherry and walnut. Pear, dried cranberry and walnut is also good. Blue cheese crumbles make a nice topping. For dressing I use a fruit vinegar such as pear or cherry, walnut oil and a splash of honey. Whisk together, then dress the greens before serving. This salad is especially nice in the fall/winter when seasonal veggies are no longer available from the farmers market.
nancy picture
I need to invite you to my house. I love mixing things up in a salad. Never thought of it as steps. I love how you present your process. thanks.
Joann M Sica picture
Joann M Sica
A friend of mine told me to apply liquid fabric softener to an insect bite from a flying insect, such a mosquitos and flies. I was using conventional fabric softener and recently decided to buy 7th Generation Fabric Softener. It works as well as the conventional fabric softener without the chemicals and artificial scents.
JilloHC picture
Why ruin a perfectly wonderful, healthy salad with something as unsavory and potentially harmful as meat? Beans or marinated tofu provide all the protein you need.
dorrieb picture
Love your suggestions for great salads. I make the dressing first, and put some in the bottom of the bowl. then I assemble my salad and mix. The dressing seems to cover more ground when it goes in first!