Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category
Though it’s no new discovery that vegetables are beneficial to ones health, did you know that greens, when eaten regulartly will improve your health. Greens are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances all of which play an important role in the maintenance and well being of your body. Without a doubt the fastest and easiest way to incorporate greens into our diets is by way of the salad. Now most people when they think of salad they think of the basics: ice berg lettuce, tomatoes, maybe a few slices of purple onion and a crouton or two. What they don’t realize is that there not only are some greens not actually green but there are dozens of varieties to choose from. Here we’ll go over some of the most commonly used and their care.
Lettuces are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They are grown and sold worldwide and are members of the genus Lactuca. The most common of the lettuce families are butterhead, crisp head, leafy, and romaine.
Types of Lettuce
Boston and Bibb
The most common of the butterhead variety, Boston and Bibb posses soft leaves and feature a buttery texture and flavor. Boston is larger than bibb but both for cuts and are excellent choices to be used in making lettuce wraps.
The most common of all lettuces, iceberg falls under the crisp head category. It possess a mild flavor, remains crisp for long periods of time and lends itself well to hearty dressings.
Red and Green
Distinguishable by it’s separate ruffle edge leaves, leaf lettuce is not a firm head. It’s rather delicate, therefore, can be easily damaged. Leaf lettuce can be found in both red and green varieties and are known for their mild flavor and tender leaves.
I like to call Romaine the backbone of all the lettuce family. It’s hearty, flavorful, and versatile. Romaine is a loosely packed head with long leaves and thick ribs. The outside leaves are dark and you will see a noticeable fading as you get into the center of the head, or the “heart” of the romaine.
Though not new in the culinary world, living lettuce is finally making it’s way to dinner tables across the United States. Living lettuce is grown hydroponic and sold with the root system in tact. if you happen to have a green thumb you can maintain the lettuce for quite awhile if you just pull off leaves as needed. The most commonly used living lettuce varieties are butter and bibb but if you look around you can also find arugula, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce and watercress.
The most common and easiest to find are nasturtiums, calendulas, and pansies. They are often used in salads or as garnish.
****Be mindful to ONLY use edible, pesticide free blossoms.***
When most people think of spinach they see visions of Popeye and the overcooked spinach that he always ate. Truth be told, spinach is terribly under appreciated but incredibly versatile. Whether tossed in a salad, sauteed with bacon or added to stuffing, spinach possesses a rich flavor and tender bite.
Spring Mix(aka Mesclun)
A mixture of a variety of baby greens that posse very subtle flavors much less bitter than their more mature counterparts.
Sometimes known as rocket arugula is actually a member of the cabbage family. It’s strong spicy flavor lends itself best to salad mixes when eaten raw but can be quite delightful when sauted.
A member of the chicory family, endive can be found in a a couple of varieties, Belgian and curly. Belgian is the shoot of the chicory root. The leaves are normally seperated and filled though whole heads can also be grilled or braised.
Delicate leaves on hearty stems, watercress has a very peppery flavor and can be tossed into salads, added to cream cheese, soups and most savory dishes what do not require extended cooking times.
Most commonly identified by it’s large ruffled/curly leaves kale possess a bitter flavor that goes well with rich foods but is a nice accent to salads and soups and can sometimes be found in it’s ornamental variety (also known as Savoy).
Somewhat tart and almost spinach like, chard is essentially a type of beet that does not produce a root. It can be steamed, sauteed or used in soups and salads.
Care and Storage
Please keep in mind that all salad greens are highly perishable and need to be handled properly in order to maintain a reasonable shelf life. Soft leaved varieties tend to perish more quickly than their heartier leaved counterparts. Do not store greens with tomatoes, apples or other fruits that emit ethylene gas as it will accelerate spoilage. All greens should be vinegar washed after they are torn and prior to using. Drain thouroughly either in a colander or a salad spinner as wet greens do not stay crisp, they do not hold dressing, and they will go bad much more quickly than dried leaves. Once dried store in an airtight container.
Don’t forget to eat your greens!
Don’t pass the word along to Sally and Tanya but I am not a big fan of juicing. I feel a bit of a sugar spike if I drink too much fruit juice, and green juices generally just taste like grass to me (and as I am not of the bovine persuasion I generally avoid grass). I never really feel full after drinking juice- I think my mind just needs to be tricked by chewing because I can eat all the ingredients of a blended juice and feel satisfied. So when I saw the offer for an add-on juice pack there was no doubt in my mind…I was snagging that sucker. Yes, you did read that right. While I am not a fan of juicing I AM a fan of healthful eating and I saw that pack as a great opportunity to get some variety into my family’s diet- even beyond the regular basket. So started my quest for recipes using my Juice-Free Juice Pack. I tried to find recipes that used the ingredients in healthy combinations similar to what I would do if I were juicing. I wanted to focus on raw meals to get the whole nutritional benefit of each ingredient but with the incredibly cold weather this week I did end up turning to soup and cooked meals more than I originally planned. Here are some of the great recipes I found that helped me use up my pack. I have not tried all of these but of those I tried, my family particularly enjoyed the beet chips; the lentils with spinach and ginger (I used brown lentils from BB and it turned out great); and the cucumber -lime salad (I did that one with grilled chicken). Try out some of these fun recipes and join me in the ranks of juice-free juicing. Happy Cooking!
One of the (many) drawbacks of being a gluten-free and nut-free household is that PB&J sandwiches are few and far between. This is hard for me because not only do I love that lunchbox staple, particularly when accompanied by a tall glass of milk (another no-no in our house), but I also really love making jams and jellies. Unfortunately these goodies just don’t get used up as quickly in our home as they used to so I have had to make a decision- stop making them OR get creative with them. I have learned that one of the (many) advantages to being a gluten-free, nut-free household is that I have the opportunity to get creative with the products I have on hand so that is the choice I have made. Recently, I have taken my love of jam making to new levels. I have been trying to find unusual ingredients and flavor combinations and then use them in ways that I have not tried before. Pineapple-Lime Jam is now one of my favorite cake filling flavors. (and thanks to BB I have a frequent supply of pineapple). Apricot-Rosemary Jam has become a go-to for an elegant Sunday meal of glazed Roast Chicken. One of my most requested flavors is Strawberry-Chipotle. As strawberries pop up in the basket and the offerings page I try to keep some out of the view of the kiddos in order to make a batch of this delectable delicacy.
The fresh, sweet strawberries pair beautifully with the spicy smokiness of chipotle peppers. The result of this pairing is a rich, red-hued jam that is versatile and delicious. The deep red of this jam and the resulting sexiness (yes, I’m weird and totally think food can be sexy) of the dishes it creates make this a perfect part of a Romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. I’m giving you here the basic jam recipe and three of my favorite ways to use it up. I will warn you that these are not all the healthiest of recipes. (I’m a sucker for cream cheese) But for a special occasion they are fabulous!
The radishes are staring at you, and you are staring at them. What in the world will you do with 6. You can slice one or two up in a regular green salad with dinner, or perhaps use them in some coleslaw with the cabbage you received this week, but better than that you can get rid of the whole bunch plus your cucumber and any stray carrots left in the ‘fridge with this zesty sweet salad! (You can really tell we focus on 100% basket consumption around here!)
Recipes with (v) are vegetarian.
One of the exciting things about Bountiful Baskets is the occasional opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables. Once in a while, something really unique and unavailable in my Northern neck of the middle-of-nowhere
woods Great Plains shows up in the basket. Today’s basket was one of those baskets! Papaya. PAPAYA! The only papaya I have ever tried before today is in Dole Tropical Canned Fruit—obviously not the same at all as eating the real, uncanned, fresh fruit. I am SO EXCITED! And my kids are too! Baloo the bear from Disney’s Jungle Book even sang a song mentioning the Papaya (in the Bare Necessities—you don’t need a claw to pick the big pawpaw!)
It is rumored that Christopher Columbus, upon trying a Papaya, called it the “Fruit of the Angels”. And, an amazing fruit it truly is! Aside from tasting heavenly and sweet, this fruit is PACKED with some power-house nutrients—provitamin A carotenoids, B vitamins, Vitamin C, lycopene, dietary minerals, and fiber, as well as many phytochemicals, including phynols (antioxidants). Papayas have a lot of natural pectin, which is useful for making jellies and jams. It is also the only plant that produces papain, an enzyme which helps break down proteins, and is often used as a meat tenderizer. Papayas are low calorie, and high fiber. The papaya seeds are edible and are sometimes used as a substitute for pepper, as they have a bitter but somewhat peppery flavor. The leaves have been made into teas in some parts of the world to help combat malaria and other ailments. And that is just the tip of the iceberg! Truly, a rather spectacular plant, and a spectacular fruit!
For more information about some of the health benefits of the papaya, here are a few links:
WARNING: If you have a latex allergy and are unable to eat avocados and bananas, you should also avoid eating the papaya, as there could be possible allergic reactions.
Here is how you eat it!
- Wash it
- Cut it in half
- Gently scoop the seeds out. Save the seeds to use in a salad dressing, or discard them.
- Either peel it gently with a knife or a vegetable peeler, or scoop out the soft meat with a spoon or melon baller
- Savor something tropical!
Here are some recipes to try, if you want to venture into cooking with the papaya instead of just chowing down on it!
p.s. If you would like a couple more Papaya recipes, Check out today’s (12-1-12) recipe round-ups!