Coloradoan column about Salads

The paper didn’t print my whole column, left out the recipe.  Here you go!

 

Coloradoan Spring Greens

It’s salad season!  With the onset of warmer temperatures, why not experiment with some new and different lettuces and greens as the base for your summer salads?  The leafy greens are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, and they do well in pots or planted directly into the garden bed.

 

When choosing greens it’s good to remember that the darker the color, the more nutrient dense.  Romaine and butter lettuces supply some crunch with slightly heavier leaves that stand up to salad dressings better than the baby lettuce mixes that mat when tossed with oil and vinegar.

 

Kale is the most nutritious of greens, but it’s very heavy leaf is pretty tough for raw salads unless chopped very fine or “massaged” with olive oil to wilt it.  I freely admit that I’m not finding time to massage my salad greens, although I do enjoy kale in winter salads, chopped fine, and tossed with crisp bacon, thinly sliced red onion, and diced apples or pears.  Typically, if leaves are tough, I enjoy them cooked.

 

Watercress and arugula both make the list of healthiest greens, and they both add distinctive flavor to salads with their spicy “bite.”  According to Berkeley Wellness, watercress has 10 times the Beta Carotene, 4 times the calcium, and 6 times the vitamin C of iceberg lettuce.  Along with other darkly colored greens, watercress provides insoluble fiber which provides a feeling of satiety or fullness that keeps us satisfied.  Balance the spiciness of watercress and arugula with sweet slices of pineapple, mango, or strawberries, and later this summer with our Colorado peaches.

 

This salad balances the bitter radicchio with spicy arugula and sweet asparagus.  If you like, add slices of fresh mango.

 

Radicchio, Arugula, and Asparagus Salad

1 small head of radicchio

1 large bunch of arugula, stemmed (about 4 cups)

1 bunch of asparagus, ends snapped

1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 ripe mango, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Toasted pecans or pine nuts

 

Quarter the radicchio, remove the core, and slice crosswise very thinly.

 

Stem the arugula, and place into a salad bowl with the radicchio.

 

Meanwhile, peel thick stalks of asparagus with a vegetable peeler to insure tenderness.  Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large skillet.  When the water boils, add ½ tsp sea salt and the asparagus.  Cook until crisp-tender but still bright green, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and place onto a cutting board.

 

Cut into 1 inch lengths and add to the salad bowl with the red onion, and mango slices if using.

Sprinkle the salad lightly with sea salt and a few fresh grinds of black pepper.

 

Whisk the vinegar with the olive oil and dress the salad.  Toss and serve at once garnished with toasted pecans.

 

Bon appétit!