Growing up, I was a big salad eater. We had salad with a large portion of our meals and there wasn’t much I didn’t like. And it wasn’t just the taste I appreciated from an early age, it was the direct correlation between what I ate, and how I felt that made me such a fruit and veggie lover. Maybe it is my metabolism or maybe it was the thought and awareness that comes with being involved in athletics, but either way I know when I need something fresh, something healthy. And with all the burger taste testing and the grilling done this past weekend for Memorial Day, I was in need of some ruffage.
Although a simple mixed salad has its purpose and goes great along side a grilled steak or a hearty pasta dish, a dinner salad needs some excitement, some boldness. And even more importantly, it has to fill you up. And that doesn’t have to mean disguising your favorite burrito by layering the ingredients over shredded lettuce. One of my favorite salads, is arugula piled with roasted beets, orange segments, goat cheese, blanched string beans and walnuts. In fact, during the winter months when heavy eating is inevitable, this salad has become a regular. But why stick with something I have made so many times before…especially when the colors and flavors of spring fill the produce stands.
Keeping the same principles in mind of building my favorite beet salad, I wanted a contrast in color, texture, and flavor in my salad. Thinly sliced radishes tossed with fresh raw corn, roasted asparagus, and blanched edamame were layered over a bed of arugula and topped with fresh goat cheese and homemade rosemary croutons. The dressing I used was a simple blend of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, honey, garlic, and olive oil.*** Lastly to really push the flavors over the top, I added grilled nectarines which added just enough sweetness and just enough crunch to make this salad a meal. Nothing says “delicious” like a pair of empty plates.
***I used to always buy store bought salad dressings. Maybe I thought it was convenient or maybe I thought it was cheaper but homemade dressings are the way to go. They are so simple and so versatile that buying a pre-packaged blend of artificial taste seems completely ridiculous. I know there are some all natural dressings out there but those are certainly not cheap. If you don’t make your own, try and just like me you may never pick up that bottle of “Newman’s Own” again.