Back in January, the Salad Sisters – my colleague Sarah Dwyer and I –  reported on the salad alchemy that was inspiring us to share our greens and build unique salads for lunch. We are happy to report that the momentum continues! Over the winter months we’ve learned to make our salad architecture cook by relying on winter vegetables, nuts, specialty vinegars, and a few pantry staples. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

Homemade Dressings. We mention this first, not last. A good dressing absolutely makes a salad and elevates it from tasty to over the top delicious.

Our favorites are nut-based. I’m perfecting a blend of peanut butter, tamari, fig vinegar, agave, and curry powder. Sarah has mastered a mix of red peppers, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, salt and nut milk.  (Yesterday, in a pinch, we brewed up a great dressing by mixing together black bean hummus, hot sauce, and white wine.)  We find ourselves combing the supermarket aisles for new vinegars and find it hard to live without pear, fig, and balsamic.

We love to make the dressings thick enough to pour them out as ribbons to wrap our built creations. We don’t toss. We just get to work with our forks and go exploring and mixing as we eat.

Vegetables. Of course, we go for greens in every salad, from baby spinach, arugula, and red romaine to bok choy and thin slivers of Swiss chard or a handful of tender baby kale. But these represent just one layer. Over the past weeks we’ve relied on sliced green and red cabbage, shredded carrots, slivered fennel, red, green, and yellow peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocados, too. (I’ll also add pomegranates here. We’re not crazy about fruit in these salads, but pomegranate seeds are too delicious and pretty not to include and there’s no where else to mention them.)

Leftovers. Cooked vegetables and just about anything else leftover from dinner have made their way, cold, into our salads, too. We are the queens of

recycling leftovers.  Grain salads, bean dishes, pasta mixtures, roasted winter vegetables (sweet potato fries with lots of cumin – yum!).  A hands-down winner was spaghetti squash, tossed with a spinach-walnut pesto, which we added in little dollops here and there, to make sure we were paying attention to what we ate.

Pantry Staples. We search our shelves at home for grace notes such as roasted peppers, olives, and capers, all of which add little surprises around the greens. And from the freezer we use baby peas and fire-roasted corn. If we put them out on the counter when we start to build our salads they’re thawed by the time they need to go in.

Whole Grains. We’ve truly gotten on top of our whole grain cooking this winter, making up pots of freekeh, farro, red, purple, and brown rice, barley (especially black), quinoa (have you tried red?), and coarse bulgur, and freezing extras for salads.  I’ve been experimenting with vegetable patés and loaves, blending whole grains with sweet potatoes and seasonings. We love adding little dollops of these mixtures to our salads, again, to make sure we pay attention as we eat. They also keep us full longer and guarantee that we don’t try to make a second salad before going home.

We’re including a few pictures of our favorite salads so far. Aren’t they stunning? Without realizing it, our salad daze has turned us into a couple of part-time raw foodists, inspiring us to put more uncooked veggies into smoothies, sandwiches, and spreads.  We’re salad addicts, too. We now crave nothing but our salads for lunch. We think about them when it isn’t meal time, and can’t wait to find out what we’ll make tomorrow.

Best of all, we feel terrific. Sarah has been running more miles than ever before, and I’m delighted to have vinegar in my veins.

Won’t you join us and make a salad for yourself today?


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