I don’t have many salad recipes. A salad is something I just whip together out of whatever I have on hand. These two salads are standbys in my home. We love the sharp bite of fresh lemon juice, the aroma and taste of extra virgin olive oil, and most of all the “close your eyes and sigh with pleasure” taste bud pleasure of local garden grown vegetables. These two salads are quick to fix and serve and are good for either casual or fancy meals.
Both recipes were originally from my Argentinean brother-in-law, Mario. Mario is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. He intuitively knows how to blend seasonings so that they play off each other. I come from a family of excellent cooks and am blessed with a number of friends who are also superb chefs. What I have learned from them is that food does not need to take hours to fix or to be elaborate. It is more important that the ingredients colorful, healthful, and fun. Both of these salads fit the bill!
The origins of the salads are Mediterranean and while simple are no less tasty. Many people have moved away from low-fat diets to the earthy and delicious Mediterranean Diet. This diet doesn’t concentrate on the amount of fat as much as the type of fats consumed. The emphasis is on eating more pasta, potatoes, breads and far less meat products. It is heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a heart healthy diet filled with fiber and nutrients. It isn’t just eating massive amounts of pasta. It includes including in your everyday diet the consumption of natural, fresh, seasonal plant foods.
Why eat local and seasonally? Some espouse political and economic reasons but I do so for a simple reason – fresh food tastes better! We all know that a tomato from a vine is completely different in taste, texture, and has more vitamins. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are typically sold within 24-48 hours of being picked. Most communities have Farmers’ Markets and I urge you to seek them out. You will be glad you did.
(Michelle and Gay – the avocado-onion-romaine salad one is for you as I know how much you love it!)
Avocado-Onion-Romaine Lettuce Salad
1 large Florida avocado (or 3 Haas avocados), cut in chunks
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 head Romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
½ lemon juiced (about 1-2 tablespoons)
Equal amount of extra virgin olive oil (approx. 1-2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the avocado, lemon and olive oil in a dish and mix. Mash the avocado a bit but leave chunks. Toss this with the onions and Romaine lettuce. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Note: You can always throw some croutons and grated parmesan cheese in the mix. It’s terrific either way.
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the fennel and discard the feathery foliage. Slice it in thin strips and place in shallow bowl. Cut the tomatoes in eighths and place in same bowl. Squeeze lemon and discard the seeds. Pour over the fennel and tomato. Add olive oil. Toss salad. Add salt and pepper. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Don’t spend all your time in the kitchen. Prepare the meals and then sit down to eat and socialize. Make your mealtime an enjoyable experience. Relax and delight in the food and in life.
Note: This is an update of a blog I posted several months back.