Posted in Recipes

Sex Up Your Salad…with Nuts

Arugula, Clementine & Pistachio Salad
Arugula, Clementine & Pistachio Salad

Like an old relationship, salads can become boring and stale.  You find yourself falling into old patterns and habits and before you know it you realize you have been eating the same spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette for the past two years and it turns your stomach just to look at it. You need excitement and spice. Something to revive your love. You need fresh ingredients that are simple and tasty, turning that salad into something you start to crave again.

Here are a few tips to sex up your salad life:

NUTS:

Keep a few varieties of nuts in your pantry at all times. For salad time, toast them briefly, till they become fragrant and toss them into your salad, whole or chopped depending on your preference and the nut. Remember toasting is critical when dealing with nuts as it really brings out their flavor, adding a new level of depth and warmth to them. Be careful though, they can turn from toasted to burnt very quickly so pay attention! I am a huge fan of pistachios and pecans. Walnuts are another favorite. They are high in protein and good fats. Not low calorie, but a little goes a long way flavor-wise.

FRUIT:

Carrots and cucumbers are swell, but get tiresome quickly. Apples, oranges, grapefruit, pears and even strawberries are much more sumptuous additions to your meal. Apples and pears offer a range from sweet to tart (I personally prefer a nice tart apple like a granny smith) and can be sliced or diced depending on your fancy. Citrus, such as oranges or grapefruit are best when “supremed” which refers to cutting out perfect peel and pith free segments for optimal eating pleasure. It’s very easy to do and rather soothing and just makes your salad look super classy (see my video from my previous post).  I like to cut strawberries in half and pair them with goat cheese, spinach or mixed baby greens and good balsamic vinegar & olive oil for a salad. I call it a dessert salad. Yum.

CHEESE:

No mystery here. Cheese makes everything better. I find I most often use either parmesan or goat cheese in my salads. For the parm, I shave it using a vegetable peeler. It does the trick quite nicely.

LETTUCE VARIETIES:

Same romaine getting you down? Try arugula (I prefer baby because it’s less bitter), spinach, baby kale, radicchio, endive, butter lettuces and more! There is such great variety out there.  I also enjoy mixing up different varieties. Currently I’m on an arugula-raddichio-endive kick. It looks so pretty and has great flavor.

DRESSING:

So many ways to go here. My only one piece of advice is DON’T BUY YOUR DRESSING!! Unless it’s some refrigerated small batch stuff, chances are it’s loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup among other undesirables. Making dressing is very simple.  On its most basic level you need an acid, fat and salt.  One of my favorite go-to’s is lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s it. The general ratio of acid: fat is either 1:3 or 1:2 depending on how acidic your acid it. Red wine vinegar for example, is much more acidic than lemon juice. So in turn vinegar usually follows the 1:3 pattern and citrus closer to the 1:2 ratio.

SALT:

While we may remember the importance of seasoning our meat, often we forget how much seasoning our salad effects the final result. Fun fact: The world salad derives from salt! So a salad without salt is doing its name an injustice! Season to taste and I promise it will make a huge difference.

Here are two similar varieties of my current favorite salads. As always, you can throw some chicken, a egg or fish on top to make it a heartier meal. These are rough ingredients. You can always taste and adjust seasoning and quantities to your liking.

Salad Ingredients
Salad Ingredients

Arugula Salad with Clementines, Pistachios & Shaved Parmesan

  • Baby arugula, washed and dried
  • 2 clementines, segmented (squeeze and save juice from the remaining skin/pith parts)
  • Handful of pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Shaved Parm
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Splash of white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Whisk lemon juice, saved clementine juice, honey, vinegar, and salt and pepper together. Slowly whisky in olive oil. Till it roughly equals the amount of lemon juice.
  2. Place at the bottom of your salad bowl or a mixing bowl (depending on how many dishes you want to do), reserving some of the dressing on the side- we don’t want to overdress the salad and can always add more dressing!
  3. Toss in arugula and coat with dressing, adding salt to taste. I like to use my hands- ideally you can buy some plastic gloves or just wash’em well. Remember it is very important to SEASON your salad- that means salt. It really helps to bring out the flavor of the lettuce and the dressing
  4. Toss in remaining ingredients, reserving a little bit of each for decorative purposes at the end.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Arugula, Endive & Radicchio Salad with Apples, Pecans & Shaved Parmesan

  • Baby arugula, washed and dried
  • 1 head of red radicchio (use treviso if you want to be indulgent)), washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 head red or yellow endive- I like yellow for collar, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1-2 granny smith apples, sliced or diced (diced in the picture) you can leave on the skin or peel it based on your preference
  • Handful of pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Shaved Parm
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Follow the same technique as the salad above for the dressing and seasoning.

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Feed your Inner Food Nerd!

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