For dinner on Day 1, I had created this Turkey Taco Salad.
I have a philosophy about salads:
- They can be “one bowl” meals.
- They should have a lot of raw greens.
- They should contain sufficient protein for a meal.
- They are a great way to make a healthy version of almost any food you love.
I love the flavor of Mexican tacos. And this has all the flavor of a taco, without the fried corn shell or the cheese. It’s all in the seasoning of the turkey. And then you make it into a big salad.
I made enough turkey for four salads. As long as I’m cooking, I might as well make enough for later. Then all I have to do is heat it up or nibble it cold. I make a point to always have a protein ready to eat in the refrigerator.
Now I have to tell you, at lunchtime yesterday my friend David came over at lunchtime. He didn’t come for lunch, he just was riding his bike past my house and stopped in. I was making lunch and he hadn’t eaten, so I offered him some of this turkey I had cooked the night before. He loved it so much he asked me how to make it. (And, he loved that I was eating a big salad. He wanted one too and happily munched a big bowl of lettuce and kale and whatever else he found in my refrigerator. He commented that he loved this big salad and I had transformed his thinking about what he might eat.)
I eat a lot of salad, especially in the summertime. And I also love to read Saveur magazine , which is all about “how to cook and eat the world.” So much so that I subscribe to their daily recipe newsletter. And a few days ago the recipe was Ayam Jeruk, a grilled chicken and toasted coconut salad in a coconut milk sauce, served over rice, from Bali.
Now traditional recipes can be quite complex, but what I look for in them are the essential flavors, which I then make into a simple dish with the foods that are best for my body.
And that was my philosophy behind this salad. Flavors of Bali, but not in the traditional dish.
It was delicious! Just changing a few spices made my everyday foods taste completely different and exotic. Very refreshing on a hot Florida evening.
Ginger Limeade would be the perfect drink to serve with this salad, and uses ingredients you already have on hand for the salad.
Now that it’s getting to be summer, I just want to encourage you to grow something and eat from your garden. Even if only a few herbs in a pot, bringing your garden to your table is a delicious experience.
Last week I went shopping with my friend Joyce and we picked up a wonderful Italian cheese called burrata. It’s fresh mozzerella with cream inside. Oh so delicious. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby they usually have it. If you have an Italian delicatessen that makes their own cheese (like if you live in Manhattan), that’s the place to buy this.
I wanted the burrata to be the star of the dish and wanted only to enhance it, so I went to my garden and got a few lettuce leaves and chives, drizzled olive oil and local honey on top, and sprinkled a bit of cracked pepper on it.
It was so satisfying to taste my garden with the amazing cheese.
This is my idea of fast food for summer.
When I was growing up in Northern California near San Francisco, almost everywhere I walked there were wild fennel plants. Often I would pull off seeds and eat them as I passed by, being careful to check that they were fennel and not poisonous wild hemlock. They look very similar but the wild hemlock has red splotches of “blood” on the stems.
And so I grew up with that sweet anise flavor—one of those joys of being out in Nature.
And so the other day fennel caught my eye—as vegetables and fruits sometimes do—in my local natural food store, so I had to bring it home and savor that sweet licorice taste from my childhood.
I have to say, I’ve just been eating it plain like candy, it’s so sweet. But then I made this salad after I looked up traditional recipes. Fennel is very popular in Italy. I always wondered why they put fennel seeds in Italian sausage. It’s because it’s been growing all over the Mediterranean for centuries.
I just cut the tops off the fennel, sliced it very thin cross-ways with a sharp knife, then added sliced celery and cucumber, sliced black Greek olives, and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of Himalayan salt, and bits of feathery front. So good. Sweet and salty.
Here’s a link to an interesting site called Eat The Invaders: Fighting Invasive Species, One Bite at a Time. This post is about fennel.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple, flavorful little dressing to make routine vegetables interesting.
That was the challenge I gave myself this week.
And it didn’t take me long to come up with this sauce that contains some of my favorite flavors to put over springtime asparagus.
I’m eating this tonight over warm asparagus fresh from the steamer.
Cold leftovers that have been marinating overnight are going in a salad for lunch tomorrow with chicken and cucumbers over lettuce.
Healthy food can always be delicious and different when you use some creativity.
This sauce can be used on asparagus or any other vegetable hot, warm or cold, or a crisp cold salad.
As I grow older and wiser, learn more and live more and experience the benefits of good choices on my health, I find myself eating more and more salads.
But the salads I eat are not dull and boring! I’m having fun experimenting with how I can turn my favorite flavors into salad!
I also tend to eat the same salad for a while once I “discover” it. My current salad-of-the-moment salad is my Chinese salad, which I love so much i’ve been eating it almost daily for at least two months.
It’s an all-vegetable salad, but you can add any protein you like, if you want. For myself, I’ve learned I don’t need to eat protein at every meal. I eat a good protein breakfast to start my day, and by the time it gets to be evening, I’m happy to end my day with a big bowl of raw vegetables.
Two surprises came out of this salad.
One was how delicious avocados taste with soy sauce.
The other was finding Szachuan peppercorns. The flavor profile of the salad just isn’t complete without them.
Szechuan peppercorns are not really a pepper at all—they are the dried outer husks of the prickly ash shrub. They have a fragrant aroma that tastes floral to me, but it also. has the numbing sensation around the mouth like a pepper. Szechuan chefs routinely combine Szachuan peppercorns with chile peppers because they believe the numbing effect reduces the chile pepper’s heat, leaving diners free to appreciate the intense, fruity flavor of the chili pepper. But I like the Szachuan peppercorns all by themselves in this salad.
here’s a source for organic Szachuan peppercorns
Also be sure to get organic soy sauce, as the usual Chinese restaurant brands contain additives and preservatives and may be made with GMO soy.
I buy San-J Organic Tamari— Gluten Free Soy Sauce. The ingredients are certified organic and non-GMO verified.
Tamari is Japanese soy sauce that is made without wheat. Most soy sauces are made with about 50% soybeans and 50% wheat, All San-J Tamari is naturally brewed with 100% soybeans and no wheat and contain no artificial preservatives or additives. Here’s a lovely Japanese scroll that shows how tamari is made
Here’s the recipe. Of course, as many of these ingredients should be organic as you can find and afford.
I just love this salad because it includes four parts of the celery: celery root, celery stalk, celery leaves, and celery seeds.
And if you use a red-skinned apple, it’s red and green for Christmas!
Like my other salad recipes, again I’ll give the ingredients, but you adjust proportions to your needs.
* celery root, outer rough part removed, chopped into julienne
* celery stalks, peeled, sliced crosswise
* celery leaves from the top of stalks
* celery seed (this is in the spice section of your store)
* red-skinned apple, cored, leave peel on
* parsley, chopped
Dress with yogurt, salt, and pepper.
Again, choose proportions to your taste. I like mostly celery root and celery, with bits of red apple skin throughout.
Celery leaves and celery seeds can be bitter, so these should be sprinkled.
Just add enough yogurt to moisten everything.
This is a wonderful salad to eat during the winter.
I’m just going to tell you what’s in it, and you can use the proportions that are best for you. For example, I just use one date, but you might want to use more.
- Roasted beets
- Celery, chopped
- Date, pitted and chopped
- Walnuts, chopped
Dress with olive oil, salt, and pepper. A little vinegar if you want. A little green onion is nice too.
I know it’s not as easy to make salads in the winter as it is in the summertime, when there are so many vegetables in season. So I particularly like to create salads in the winter (see last year’s winter salad)
For me, salads are all about tossing things together, so there is no recipe.
But here’s the story.
I started out with roasted beets, sprinkled with apple cider vinegar.
And then I decided I wanted all the ingredients to be purple.
I roasted red onions and sliced them into thin strips.
I pulled pomegranate arils from a fresh pomegranate.
And got some curly red kale.
I built my salad on a purple plate.
First a bed of raw red kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces.
Next I mixed the beets, red onions and chopped celery for crunch with a drizzle of olive oil, and piled them on the kale.
For contrast and protein, I crumbled goat cheese on top, and then added a little pile of walnuts.
And then I sprinkled an abundance of sparkling jewels of pomegranate arils all over everything and finished it off with a drizzle of local honey.
So delicious! A refreshing and rejuvinating break from all the party foods that is festive in it’s own right.
These days I am so busy that I have to make things quickly, from ingredients I prepare in advance on the weekend.
When I mentioned this salad to a friend of mine over the phone, he said, “Oh! I’ll have some of that!”
Some of my best recipes come when I’m just wanting to finish up those few bits of things in the refrigerator.
At lunchtime today I had a cold chicken breast that I could have eaten plain, but I wanted something more interesting.
I love cold chicken salad, but am not a fan of bottled mayonnaise, so I don’t have any in the refrigerator. But I did have some coconut milk left over from making something else. Well, why not? If I were making hot chicken curry it would be in a coconut milk sauce. I’m wanting to eat more coconut oil now because it protects my body from viruses.
I just took a bit of coconut milk on my fork at first, with a bite of cold chicken and…yum! Perfect! Curry powder…yum!
And Coconut Curry Chicken Salad was born.