Salads are the centerpiece for luncheons and dinners for warm weather. Use them as side dishes or as the main dish when they include proteins. Salads are easy to make and easy to carry. You can make enough to last for a few days at a time, so they’re less work. They’re satisfying because they’ve got plenty of fiber to fill you up! Salads are the ticket now for your lunches and dinners because they’ve got it all–color, flavor, nutrition, and variety. Especially variety. The Olive Store offers over 23 flavors of oil and 21 balsamic vinegars with which to complement your salad meals. And all of our oils and balsamics come in the small, 60 milliliter size, so you can try several out. And the more you buy, the cheaper these 60-ml bottles are.
There are 10 basic building blocks for constructing a salad. You are limited only by your imagination, so feel free to be creative. Here are some ideas with which to start:
Lettuce/Greens Base — Start your salad with any combination of lettuces and/or greens torn into bite-sized bits. Use any of the following: arugula, butter lettuce, dandelion greens, endive, escarole, iceberg, romaine lettuce, baby spinach, watercress
Raw Vegetables — Alfalfa sprouts, bamboo shoots, bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange), carrots grated or cut in curls using a potato peeler, cauliflower (crunchy and delicious), corn on the cob (Just scrape the raw corn off the cob with a large vegetable knife.), chayote squash finely sliced, cucumbers, purple cabbage shredded, tomatoes, zucchini, Chinese snow peas
Steamed Vegetables, the “Boiled Salad” — We like the Japanese technique of lightly steaming vegetables until they’re almost, but not quite, completely cooked, similar to the Italian idea of cooking al dente, then running cold water over the vegetables to make a boiled salad. This method preserves crispness, texture, nutrition and beautiful color. See the recipe for Italian Vegetables Spears Salad, which follows, for an example of this salad technique.
Marinated Vegetables and Pickled Vegetables — Make a marinade sauce from 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil, fresh parsley, chopped green onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine the vegetables and the marinade sauce in a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours. The Olive Store features several varieties of pickled vegetables for your salads from the Forest Floor Brand, including Dilled Brussels Sprouts, Spiced Pickled Green Beans, and Pickled Asparagus.
Sauteed or Grilled Vegetables and Meats — Asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli flowerettes, carrots, Chinese string beans, zucchini, chicken
Proteins — Canned beans (rinsed and drained), eggs (hard boiled), grated cheeses, poultry, salmon, shrimp, tuna, crabmeat, also good are sea foods “cooked” ceviche style, such as scallops.
Starches — Amaranth (use raw, just sprinkle it on a salad), baked corn chips, long grain brown rice (cooked, rinsed, then chilled), noodles and pastas (including pasta salads), rice cakes (crumbled, use instead of croutons)
Fats — Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Walnut Oil, nuts and seeds (pumpkin, poppy, sunflower), and olives include the heart-healthy options for adding fats to your salads. And we have them all, except seeds and nuts. The Olive Store features a wide selection of nutritious olives, including Gaeta, Bella di Cerignola and Leccino varieties imported from Italy. We have stuffed olives: Chardonnay Jalapeño, Vermouth Bleu Cheese, and Chardonnay Garlic, as well as plain Minced Garlic stuffed olives. And we feature giant olives, “Pitted Queen Olives.” Come check them out.
Fruits — Fruits are the glittering crown jewels for salads, “eye candy,” as well as nutritious and delicious. Two well-known favorites for using fruits in salads, of course, include the Michigan Salad and the Waldorf Salad. And we’ll be sending out recipes for these two. But you can use any fruit in a salad. Citrus fruits and pineapple are particularly delicious in a salad with a watercress base because these fruits contrast so well with the slightly bitter taste of the watercress. The possibilities for adding fruits to your salads are endless. And The Olive Store offers 17 fruit-inspired balsamic vinegars to complement your salad creations, including the following: Red Apple (for a Waldorf Salad), Blackberry Ginger, Wild Blueberry, Black Cherry (for the above-mentioned Michigan Salad), Cranberry, Cranberry Pear, Coconut, Grapefruit, Lemon White, Peach, Pear Cinnamon, Sweet Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry and Tangerine. These fruit inspired balsamics pair well with our Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange flavored olive oils, with any of our plain olive oils, or with our Walnut Oil.
Edible Flowers — Beautiful and delicious on a salad, especially combined with fruits. Check out your fresh produce section of the supermarket or gourmet grocery for edible flowers. Some of our favorites include pansies and honeysuckle.