Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Salads and Balsamic Vinegar

I've noticed that all winter, I've been making a lot of soup, but now that the weather is warming up, I've been craving some greens to with them.

Here are a few salad recipes I've come up with lately to keep things fresh and vibrant.

As to the apparent balsamic theme, I happen to like the thick sweetness of it, as opposed to the tartness of other vinegars, like cider vinegar.

Balsamic Bean and Tomato Salad

A simple, yet tasty salad, from standard pantry items

1 cup Low Sodium Pink Beans
1 cup white beans, canned
1 cup Canned Diced Tomatoes No Salt Added *
1/2 cup Onions, Diced
1/2 cup Sliced Mushrooms
4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 serving Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, To taste

Drain the canned beans and rinse well; pour into your Salad bowl.

Drain diced tomatoes and add to the beans.

Dice up onion, slice the (rinsed) mushrooms, and add to the bean mixture.

Drizzle in Balsamic Vinegar, a few turns around the bowl, about 4 Tbsp. Drizzle in a little less of the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), about 2 Tbsp.

Sprinkle in some salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Mix well and allow to chill in the fridge before eating.

*NB When summer does finally come around, I will likely be making this with fresh tomatoes instead of canned. In this case 1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes will be substituted. Just seed and dice them and add to the beans.

Balsamic Cobb Salad with Herbs

Spring greens with herbs dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

• 2 clove Garlic Clove
• Salt and Pepper to taste
• 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
• 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
• 1 tbsp Honey
• 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 cup Carrots
• 1/2 cup Cucumber
• 1/4 cup Onion, Sweet
• 3 large egg Hard-boiled Egg
• 1 cup Smoked Ham
• 6 cup Organic Spring Mix, with herbs
• 4 tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Start by making the vinaigrette in the bottom of your salad bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey. The mustard will help stabilize the vinegar and oil when you whisk them together and the honey balances out the tartness in the vinegar.
Whisk the ingredients together. When well combined, slowly drizzle in the oil, while whisking to create an emulsification.

Check the taste and adjust the vinaigrette as needed. It should be tart and slightly sweet.

Next assemble your salad.

Wash all vegetables first. Peel and slice the carrot and cucumber, dice the onion, peel and slice the eggs, slice the ham into strips. Toss everything into the vinaigrette. Double check the spring greens are clean and add those as well. The variety I found at the store had herbs as well as greens, which added fresh doses of flavor to each bite. You can add your own to the mix; try dill, arugula, and parsley.

Toss everything together and serve. This would make a good side, or lunch salad, or could even stand alone as an entrée salad with rolls or bread on the side.

You may want to garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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