Growing up, greens referred to turnips, mustards or collards, (from Daddy’s garden), scrumptiously stewed with some kind of pork and served with cornbread. Salad greens were not on the regular at our table. When we did have salad, it was fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, (also from Daddy’s garden), and iceberg lettuce made limp with a generous dousing of Italian, French or Thousand Island dressing.   I thought I was doing something when I’d add cut up lunch meat and American cheese.   I’m not the only one who has had a baloney and cheese salad!   

“Not much goin on” salad w load of dressing
In the 80s the salad bar in our dorm cafeteria and Wendy’s Garden Spot became my spots.  This was also the beginning of my [misguided] good health efforts, so instead of a burger and fries, I’d go to the salad bar and load the plate with everything they had.  Those salads were a sloppy, confused mess with a bunch flavors battling it out.  Honestly, they were not too tasty and counting the nutritional costs of everything on it, I could have had a burger combo (and certainly would have enjoyed it more).
“Too much goin on” salad with load of dressing
Thankfully, my experience with salad has evolved.  Cookbooks, recipe blogs, great salads enjoyed in restaurants and common sense has taught me that fresh is best and less is more.  A bed of interesting greens tossed with a few fresh ingredients, (that complement each other), and a simple vinaigrette is a beautiful thing.  Instead of coating the palete, light simple salads keep the taste buds ‘clean’ allowing us to truly taste the wonderful flavors God gave the ingredients.

The blueprint for my favorite salads involves a mix of dark salad greens, a fresh seasonal fruit, healthy nuts or seeds and a bit of stinky cheese. That’s pretty much it.  Toss this with a dressing homemade from olive oil, a flavored vinegar or mustard and some fresh herbs – it is on! Recipes are often not needed. Select a fruit, nut, cheese and accompanying vinaigrette in line with what’s fresh in the market or your kitchen. You can also throw in a lean protein to make it a standalone meal.  The result is easy, delicious, nutritious and economical. 

Go to ingredients:

  • Favorite salad greens – Standalone: spinach, romaine, arugula.  Mixes: Currently, I’m loving the Organic girl products.  Their Supergreensand Vive la France mixes are amazing.
  • Favorite fruit options – Summer/Fall: tomatoes, strawberries, grapes. Winter/Spring: mandarin oranges, tangelos, sweet grapefruit, cherries, cranberries, honeycrisp apples, bosc pears.
  • Favorite nut/seed options – pecans, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.  Note: Lightly toasting nuts deepens the flavor.  Carefully heat the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat just until fragrant. Be careful not to overly brown or burn.
  • Favorite stinky cheese options – blue cheese, feta, goat cheese, parmesan, asiago

With winter upon us, a warm settling bowl of soup and a fresh light seasonal salad make a healthy and satisfying meal.  I’m hitting cookbooks and the web exploring salad recipes that feature winter fruits. (Click link to check out these winners).

What makes up a super, simple salad for you?  
Please share your ideas/recipes and enjoy your greens.

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