Salads for Mediterranean Meals
According to food lore, in the 1930's Bob Cobb found this and that in his refrigerator when he was owner of the famed Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, tossed it all together, and created the Cobb salad, which became a phenomenal success. With all due respect to Mr. Cobb, combining vegetables and protein in artful and colorful ways has been part of Mediterranean food traditions for very long time.
As we head into warmer weather, now is a great time to think about salads, and ask yourself if you're making them all they can be. In fact, if you're trying to follow one of the basic steps of the Med Diet - to eat lots of vegetables every day - learning ways to build salads that serve as a meal and not as an afterthought, will serve you well indeed.
For starters, take a look at the fresh young greens you can buy now at your supermarket and in farmers markets. Mesclun mixes made from a variety of crisp, tasty baby lettuces are easy to find every where, even in many convenience stores and large drugstores. And keep an eye out for baby spinach, baby arugula, baby Russian red kale, and fava bean leaves. Wash and combine a variety of greens as the base layer for your salad. The more flavor the greens deliver, the more satisfying your salad will seem.
Then, roast some vegetables to coax out their sweetness. There are so many choices, and you can save on time by roasting enough at one go for several meals. Shop for lovely new spring potatoes and asparagus, but also consider mushrooms, peppers, summer squash, carrots, celery, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and grape tomatoes. Cut as you wish into chunks or slices (leave grape tomatoes whole), toss lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, arrange on a flat baking sheet, and roast at about 425°F for 10 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before adding them to your salad. Keep leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
From here, grab some things from your pantry. Remember - another great bonus of adhering to the Mediterranean Diet is the selection of tasty foods you keep on hand. Consider canned, drained beans, marinated artichoke hearts and other marinated vegetables, nuts and peanuts, tuna, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes as ingredients for your salad. You can also add hard-boiled eggs, cooked seafood or chicken, a few cubes of lightly toasted whole-grain bread. And then top it off with a modest few spoonfuls of a lovely homemade olive oil dressing, seasoned with salt, pepper, and perhaps some herbs.
Here are two recipes for this great way to eat. Play with the many possibilities to create your own signature salads.
Roasted Vegetable Hummus Plate
Here's a very quick way to make a delicious, light meal. Try other vegetables, and add eggs, olives, or nuts.
4 spears asparagus
1 red, yellow, or orange pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 cup mixed salad greens
¼ cup hummus, any flavor
Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Toss the asparagus and pepper strips with olive oil and arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes, just until tender. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Arrange the salad greens on a dinner plate and top with the roasted vegetables. Spoon the hummus on the side, to serve as the dressing.
Calories: 173, Fat: 7g, Sodium 244mg, Carbohydrate: 24g, Protein: 9g
Recipe courtesy of the Cedars.
Bella's Mediterranean Cobb Salad
Make some hard-boiled eggs ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to a week so you can assemble this salad in minutes.
2 cups of your favorite lettuce or spinach blend
1 8.5-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
6-8 stalks of marinated or roasted asparagus
¼ cup olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup sliced sweet red and yellow peppers
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
Make the dressing. Then layer each of the ingredients on a serving platter starting with the lettuce/spinach blend on the bottom. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients and chill for up to 2 hours if you wish before serving.
Nutrition Analysis (w/o dressing):
Calories: 450, Fat: 11g, Sodium 474mg, Carbohydrate: 78g, Protein: 27g
Recipe courtesy of Mooney Farms.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil make a clean tasting, light dressing for many different kinds of Mediterranean salads. To vary the flavor, add about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped, fresh herbs. Or, give it a bit of a bite by adding 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of honey.
Makes just over 1/2 cup
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well and let sit for a few minutes. Shake again and pour over the salad.
An Oldways recipe, developed for Mooney Farms.
Nutrition Analysis (dressing):
Calories: 125, Fat: 14g, Sodium 100mg, Carbohydrate: 2g, Protein: 0g