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2020 Reset: Savvy Salads

Picture this. A small church gymnasium. Cold metal folding chairs around tables covered in pink plastic. Lots and lots of females. Only women, several generations of several families. More tables, covered with a potlach of mayo-based concoctions: “salads.” This was the annual Mt. Olivet Baptist Church Salad-Rama. After filling our styrofoam plates with various shades of creamy white, we ate and listened to the pastor’s wife. She spoke from a podium about our role as women in the family, in the church, and in the world. 

I attended for several years with my mother and sister. My grandmother invited us, as it was her church. We knew it was important to her, so we showed up. It made her happy. I was never comfortable with any part of it, but it made my grandmother proud that she could tell her pastor that we were all there together. 

But the food…oh, the food! Macaroni salad, egg salad, fruit salad. There might have been some color under the dressings, but who knows? I’m sure there was a fresh tossed salad here and there, with a vinaigrette. But I don’t remember those. I remember being hungry after the Salad-Rama because we ate zero protein. I remember getting a bean burrito from a drive thru afterwards. 

Midwest protestant salads just missed the mark nutritionally. Who in these parts can’t claim being raised on the mayo-based concoctions, in addition to the routine iceberg lettuce with the bottled ranch dressing, shredded processed cheese, store-bought croutons, and chopped tomatoes and hold the tomatoes, please and thank you. This salad was considered eating your vegetables!

As we continue our healthy experiment of the January reset, I hope you enjoy the following three salad recipes. In addition to fresh, colorful ingredients, the homemade dressings pull these salads together. They are veggie heavy, but include various amounts of protein. Mix and match ingredients to see what you love the best. Use the dressings on other recipes: roasted vegetables, meats, stirred into soups. Cheers to texture, balance, and good health!





Chopped Thai salad 

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the salad:

1/2 cup raw, unsalted peanuts or nuts of choice
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 head purple cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

1/4 cup peanut butter or nut butter of choice
Juice of 1 medium lime
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons peeled, minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Generous pinch cayenne pepper (optional) 

Instructions

Make the salad:
Toast nuts in a skillet on medium high heat for about 3 minutes or until you can smell them, stirring a few times. Place the carrots in a food processor fitted with the blade and pulse a few times to coarsely chop into smaller pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the scallions, bell pepper, purple cabbage, and toasted peanuts, working one at a time with each ingredient. (If you do them at the same time, they process unevenly and you’ll get some riced vegetables and some huge chunks.) Alternatively, roughly chop the vegetables by hand.

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat well. Mix in the cilantro and divide between 2 plates. Serve immediately. 

-Liz Moody, Healthier Together






Shrimp and broccoli salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the salad:

5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large head broccoli florets
1/2 red onion, small dice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 package cooked large shrimp, shells and tail removed
3 hearts of romaine, chopped OR 1 container baby spinach 
Freshly cracked pepper and sprinkle of salt

For the dressing:

1/4 cup mayo or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add dressing to broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Put chopped romaine in four serving bowls, top with dressed broccoli mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


 


Chopped salmon salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the salad:

1 large head romaine, roughly chopped
4 3-ounce pieces cooked salmon, flaked
1 large tomato, sliced or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1.5 cups butternut squash, cubed and cooked
1 15-ounce can navy beans or lentils, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup toasted walnuts 
1/4 cup shredded parmesan 
Freshly cracked pepper and sprinkle of salt

For the dressing:

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Add all ingredients except for salmon and parmesan to a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Put mixture in four serving bowls. Top with flaked salmon and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with multi-grain toast.




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