Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arugula, grilled vegetables and chickpeas salad

I live on salads. I eat a salad almost every day for lunch, and a few times for dinner. Properly made, I think that the salad can be satisfying, nourishing and of course, healthy. My favorite salad recipe follows:


Arugula lettuce, (half a bag, or about 3 cups)

Chickpeas, rinsed

Grilled red peppers

Grilled, caramelized onions

Artichoke hearts, ½ cup (canned ones are fine)

Either: either quarter cup of walnuts or half an avocado

Fresh croutons

Dressing: olive oil, just a dash, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper to taste. (Most viniagrette receipes favor a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I prefer a 1:2:1 of oil, vinegar, and water. If the balsamic dressing is mild and sweet enough, then this works out well and is much lighter.)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together, and then add dressing right before eating.

The addition of grilled vegetables really makes a salad filling and savory. If you make this salad to take to work, I recommend keeping the grilled veggies and salad dressing in separate containers. Then when it’s time to eat, mix everything together.

I make variations on this salad all the time. Other version include: lose the artichokes, croutons, nuts/avocado, and add sesame seeds, chives, broccoli (lightly steamed) and a sesame ginger salad dressing. Or, substitute black beans for chickpeas, go with avocado, lose the artichokes, croutons and onions, and add corn, jalapenos, tomatoes, and a few crunched up tortilla chips with a citrus-vinaigrette.

The most important part of a good salad is undoubtedly texture: there must be crunch, something creamy (though not necessarily cream based), and something hearty and protein based. A salad of fresh vegetables is certainly healthy but often unfulfilling because it lacks the diversity in texture. So when constructing your own salad, try to keep that in mind.

By the way, healthy substitutes I found that add texture include: grilled vegetables, avocado, tofu (love smoked tofu), beans, corn, beets,– they added a sweetness and heft to any salad, and fresh fruit – grapes are my current favorite. Also, something I’ve discovered while living in NY is the addition of slightly blanched/steamed vegetables in a salad: broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower are pleasantly delicious additions.

The point is salad-eating isn’t supposed to be a painful experience, nor does it have to be full of cheese, creamy dressings and crispy, fried meat to taste good either. If you consider diversity in texture for your salad toppings, I think you will find a salad to be filling and healthy.

As the summer continues, I will share more of my favorite salads.

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