Three reasons to eat salad every day (if you need them)

There are many good reasons to eat salads. First, leafy greens and raw vegetables are a natural source of dietary fibre. Fibre helps to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It helps to control blood sugar. It normalizes bowel movements and helps in the prevention of bowel disease. Fibre intake also helps with maintaining a healthy body weight.

The second reason is the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables. A multitude of vitamins and minerals are supplied. It is important to eat as many different colours as possible.

Whether you choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, tart cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates or beets, all of these healthy fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese, making them great for heart health and overall well-being.

Carotenoids are a class of compounds synthesized from the yellow, orange and red pigments of plants. This includes vitamin A. All of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits within the body.

Finally salads are easy to make. Like soup, you can pretty much use what is in the refrigerator to make a salad. Making your own dressing is healthier than store-bought dressings that may contain high fructose corn syrup and preservatives.

Making your own dressings also gives you variety without wasting refrigerator space with a bunch of bottles.

Celery Salad with Crispy Lentils

French green lentils are smaller than green or brown lentils. They are grown right here on the Prairies. Don’t hesitate to use the anchovies. They are only salting the dressing. There aren’t enough to really taste them.

  • 1 c. French green lentils 250 mL
  • 1 head celery, trimmed and cut on a sharp bias, leaves reserved
  • 1/3 c. golden raisins, plumped in hot water for 10 minutes 75 mL
  • 1/4 c. pecans, toasted and chopped roughly 60 mL
  • 6 oz. parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler 170 g
  • 3 tbsp. neutral flavoured cooking oil such as olive or canola 45 mL

Dressing:

  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and chopped 30 mL
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil 75 mL

Place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and chill.

Meanwhile, combine celery, raisins and walnuts in a large bowl. Add in three quarters of the parmesan, saving some for garnish. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients, except the olive oil. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly at the end while stirring with a fork.

In a large saucepan, heat the three tablespoons (45 mL) of cooking oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the cooked lentils and season with salt. Cook, undisturbed for two to three minutes, until the lentils on the bottom layer start to burst and crisp. You will see them turn slightly golden. Stir and repeat until the lentils are crispy.

Add the dressing, a few spoons at a time, to the celery. Toss in the lentils. Season with salt and add more dressing to taste, if necessary.

Spoon into a serving platter or bowl and garnish with reserved parmesan and celery leaves.

Potato and Steelhead Trout Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing

  • 1/2 lb. baby potatoes 250 g
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed, diagonally sliced into thirds
  • 1/2 lb. skinless and boneless steelhead fillets 250 g
  • cooking spray
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 c. arugula 750 mL
  • 1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp. drained capers, rinsed 15 mL
  • 1 lemon, zested

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. sour cream 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. wholegrain mustard 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill 15 mL
  • freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water and generously add salt. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender, adding the asparagus for the last one minute of cooking. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, season the steelhead trout with sea salt and pepper and pan fry in an oiled and hot heavy pan or grill on the barbecue.

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Toss the arugula, red pepper, capers and lemon zest in a medium bowl.

Flake the steelhead trout into large pieces and add to the salad along with the potatoes.

Toss gently to combine. Serve.

Chicken Taco Salad

Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning 30 mL
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL

Dressing:

  • 3/4 c. sour cream, thick yogurt or ranch dressing 175 mL
  • 1/4 c. salsa 60 mL
  • 3 tbsp. finely minced fresh cilantro 45 mL

Salad:

  • 1 c. frozen corn kernels or fresh off the cob 250 mL
  • 2 heads green leaf lettuce, shredded thin
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 c. grated Monterey jack cheese 125 mL
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves 125 mL
  • tortilla chips crushed slightly, for topping salad

For the chicken generously season both sides of the breasts with the taco seasoning. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides until deep golden brown on the outside and done in the middle, to an internal temperature of 165 F (75 C), about four minutes per side. Set aside to cool for five minutes.

Make the dressing while the chicken is cooking. Add the sour cream, yogurt or ranch dressing to a bowl. Add the salsa and cilantro and stir to combine.

Make the salad by cooking the corn first. Cook the corn kernels in the skillet you used to cook the chicken and roll them around so that the flavourful oil/butter mixture coats the corn. Sauté until cooked.

Dice the cooked chicken into cubes.

On a platter, layer the shredded lettuce, diced chicken, tomatoes, cheese, corn, avocados, green onions, cilantro and crushed chips. Drizzle the dressing all over the top, saving some to serve on the side.

Greek salad

  • 1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped and seeded
  • 1 c. feta, crumbled 250 mL
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces, 2.5 cm
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 1 inch pieces, 2.5 cm
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives 125 mL
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 5 mL

Place lettuce on a platter. Top with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, feta and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Serve.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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