Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Salad Secrets: White Peach and Basil Salad

Making good salad is an art. The reputation of salad suffers from the stereotype of romaine lettuce, tomatoes and croutons on a plate with your choice of thousand island or ranch. Salad can be so much more with a little creativity.

The first guideline I will put forward is to use quality ingredients. The best ingredients come from your garden, the next best from the farmer's market, and the next best from the supermarket. Freshly picked is better, tender is better, and greener is better.

Fresh herbs give your salad flavor. In my container garden on my balcony, I grow parsley, chives, peppermint, spearmint, and red shiso. The garden was as easy as getting fabric pots and soil from the nursery, planting starts in it, and watering when needed. The herbs that I grow are noticeably more flavorful than storebought. I buy cilantro, green onions, basil, and dill. All of these herbs are excellent in salads, and my salads are often at least 1/3 herbs and 2/3 lettuce.

Try putting fruit in your salad. Mango, strawberries, apples, pears, raisins, nectarines and peaches can put an interesting spin on your usual mix.

Fresh dressing is more delicious that storebought, and it doesn't have the additives. The dressing below can be used on almost any salad, and can be modified. Keep any homemade dressing in the fridge, and throw it out after 2 weeks.

Finally, the size and shape of the pieces in the salad can make or break the salad. I always chop the lettuce, rather than tearing it, and slice my herbs finely. If I add fruit, I dice it into small pieces. This way, each bite can have all the flavors. Also, your face won't be splashed with dressing as large leaves swing into your mouth. In addition to this recipe, try a papaya and avocado salad; a walnut, pear and raisin salad; or a black bean, red bell pepper and corn salad.

White peach and basil salad
Serves: 1-2 people
The intensely sweet white peach combines with fresh basil for a WOW flavor. 

3 Tbsp walnut, avocado or camelina oil (a mild flavored oil)
2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake.

two handfuls of fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
one handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
3-5 large leaves of lettuce (oak leaf or red leaf), chopped
1/2 white peach, diced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing. Keep extra dressing in the fridge. Don't worry too much about measuring... the more basil the better.

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