Thursday, May 16, 2013

Simple Salads

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to all the super moms out there!

Picnicking in Fort Greene Park!
While I technically am not a mother, I do claim ownership to three feisty kitties and one amazing dog, making me quite the fur-mom. And let me tell you, I had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Most of my family lives in Ohio and since I won't be in that part of the country until this upcoming weekend, I spent the day perusing Brooklyn with my husband, our friend Jessie, and Charlie, our labrador/basset mix.

We began the day at the park, enjoying a picnic of various little sandwiches, a selection of cheeses, and some fresh berries. For dessert we had pieces of chocolate smothered in a very decadent white chocolate peanut butter. Truly divine!

Following the picnic, we went for a leisurely bike ride around the neighborhood and through Prospect Park (Brooklyn's "Central Park"). I recently purchased a 1986 Peugeot road bike from the Brooklyn Flea Market for a really great price--although the low price may actually be reflective of the fact that it's a child's bike... What can I say? I'm short!--and boy is it a joy to ride! I just can't get enough of it.

After our ride, we decided to cool down with a little gardening. My husband and I started a backyard container garden last month and we really enjoy spending time tending it together on the weekends. We tried our hand at a smaller garden last year and while we got some produce we decided to try for more this year. All together we planted 13 plants, including yellow and green zucchini, pickling cucumbers--I'm fantasizing about making Mary's homemade pickles recipe from complete scratch!--Japanese long eggplant and traditional eggplant, 5 types of peppers including jalapenos, Caribbean red peppers, and sweet Italian peppers, and 3 types of tomatoes. We also planted a windowbox spice garden with tarragon, mint, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, dill, and thyme. I'm so excited for everyone to grow big and tall so we can eat them!

Speaking of eating, enough of my Mother's Day... It's time for some recipes! For today's post, I'd like to celebrate the joy of warmer weather, being outside, and container gardening with three delicious, nutritious, and super simple salads. Every Saturday a local farmer's market forms at the park down the street from my apartment. Not only does the market collect compost and provide a space for recycling textiles, but it's obviously a great place for us to purchase our veggies for the week. This past weekend they had a great selection of lettuce and I admittedly went a little crazy, buying several types out of excitement. So here, dear reader, you have the result of a week's worth of salads.

Cobb Salad
2 hardboiled eggs, diced
1 tomato, diced
blue cheese, crumbled
sunflower seeds or another type of seed or nut
broccoli and/or cauliflower
turkey or chicken, diced
avocado, sliced

With this salad, I simply rough chopped the lettuce and then I tossed the lettuce and broccoli in the dressing before adding the toppings. I kept the dressing simple with a mixture of aged apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, chive and dill infused olive oil, hemp oil, and some salt and pepper. I also would have tossed in some mushrooms but I didn't have any in the house at the time. I must say, cobb salads are amongst my favorites because I feel they're pretty well-balanced, with a variety of protein sources, healthy fats, and fiber.

Smoked Salmon Salad
1 package smoked salmon
1 red onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
mushrooms, diced
Feta cheese or blue cheese, crumbled

For this salad, I again started by rough chopping the lettuce and then added the toppings. I enjoy the smoked salmon because it takes a simple salad to the next level by providing protein and omega-3's. The capers and olives add a nice saltiness to balance the smokey fish, and the red onion and tomato add just a dash of sweetness. For the dressing, I again kept it simple with a mixture of aged apple cider vinegar, olive oil, hemp oil, and pepper.

Frisee Salad
Frisee lettuce
2 eggs, poached
cooked duck bacon
pine nuts

For this salad, I used frisee lettuce rather than typical greens to be adventurous; however I think the same concept would be successful with a variety of lettuces, especially endive, boston, or bibb lettuce, although mesclun or arugula would also work I'm sure. I began by tossing the frisee and the bacon in the dressing, which again was a mixture of aged apple cider vinegar, blood orange infused olive oil, hemp oil, and salt and pepper. I then topped the salad with the two poached eggs and pine nuts. You could also add some diced shallot, blue cheese, roasted red bell peppers, and/or tomatoes, but I decided to keep this salad simple since the real bonus is the runny yolk from the poached eggs. Yum!

And... in case you didn't scope it, the picture at the beginning of this post is a card I handmade for my mother-in-law using a page from an old dictionary I found on the street and an image from a recycled advertisement! :)