Everything but the kitchen sink salad

On learning to make bang up salads.  You may not believe it now but making a good salad used to be such a mystery to me.  Friends would make me salad and I would devour it but then the ones I made at home just didn’t cut it,

My lack of a salad skill-set sent me on a salad quest when I became vegan in 2002. I went to restaurants and cafes trying to catch a glimpse of the person making the salad all the while noting the ingredients for the dressing listed in the menu.

I am happy to say it all paid off! Salad has become my favorite dish to make and share, never do we share salad without someone commenting on how good it is and coming back for more. In fact I’ve learned that there are just a few (simple) factors that go into making a bang up salad that everyone will want more of. I even made a video with tips.

Most often I make a big green salad with our spicy this dressing but this week I was craving big bowls of veggies with lentils, quinoa and black beans.

And this is the result-look how colorful it is, I have to be honest, I wasn’t planning to share the pics but couldn’t help myself capture the rainbow of colors. (And I’m still trying to work out the pic size that is optimal, bear with me along the way, #humanbeingfeelingherwayontheplanet-just like you :).

 Chopping is meditation if you let it. Yes, this one takes a moment to assemble, but the good news is that it tastes awesome, it can be dressed up in myriad ways, you can eat it hot or cold, and lastly, it keeps really well making it a winner to grab and go with you. And if you get out the mindset that making food is a chore it can become a meditation.  Food is not a chore, it’s what fuels us, it is THE ultimate act of self-love, and you want a little more of that don’t you? Well now you can get yourself a little more self-love as you make your food for the week, we approve that kind of multi-tasking!

 I told you it was everything but the kitchen sink salad (truly, who wants a kitchen sink in their salad?), but don’t worry, you don’t need to replicate it exactly.  Just use what you like and have on hand, experiment with things you can add.  Different veggies (and a handful of fruits) give interesting blends of texture, color, taste and nutrients.

Putting those kitchen appliances in their rightful space.  When I first start working with my private clients, we either do an in person tour of their kitchen (if they are local) or via Zoom (if they are too far to visit).  Almost without fail one of the main things we see are kitchens that have clean and clear counter space because everything is in drawers and cupboards. This may look good but chances are it hampers your ability to literally “whip up” something delish and healthy to eat.  More on that in upcoming posts, and if you’re ready to get going with your journey to health and happiness, we can talk.

It’s worth getting the food processor out for carrots (and cabbage) if you’re using them.  Yes you can grate them manually but truly, the texture is so different when shredded in the processor.  I am a firm believer that blenders and processors should be on the counter ready to use-it makes being in the kitchen so much more enjoyable than the alternative of rummaging at the back of the cupboard-that’s enough to stop me right there, perhaps you are the same too, let’s plan for success and get those machines in their rightful place.

I always say my Vitamix is the workhorse of my self-care team.  I know that if I had to get it out and find counter space for it every time I want to make a smoothie, dressing or whatever, the chances are I would be eating very different.

I am just not a rummager.  Rummaging in drawers and cupboards can literally be all the deterrent I need to not do something, even if it is good for me. So even in our small space the Vitamix, Cuisanart and Cemaaj’s espresso machine, all have their own space where they are plugged in and ready to go-it can make all the difference between having fun and flowing as you prep, to a frustrating affair that likely stops you before you started.

Let’s talk keeping spices simple.  I have to say that when it comes to spices, I like to keep it simple, truly I like simple for everything, and spices are no different (LOL as I read through I realize my truly simple spices are in “Simply Organic: bottles, I told you, I like simple!). Yes I have had the ubiquitous racks and drawers of spice jars, most of which I didn’t use often, and which just cluttered up my kitchen walls and shelves.

We have been living in teeny cottages for 6 years and space is premium. So, I reduced my jars to under 10, and if I need a particular spice for a new dish I am trying I go and buy some in bulk so I don’t need a whole jar. Now when it comes to Cumin and Coriander I actually buy these by the pound and refill my little jars for the counter.

If you have lots of spices, I’d highly recommend taking a look to see which you use and which you don’t. life is too short (or too long) to complicate it along the way.

Now let’s talk dressing-it couldn’t be simpler. Oh this is the place we can make the most change in the taste of the finished salad. Do want a creamy dressing, a lighter balsamic (I love a fig or peach balsamic, get creative), or lemon, garlic herb dressing?  Feel free to experiment, today we are dressing this salad with a lemony, galicky, herb dressing, and it truly could not be simpler to make.

I am a fan of dressings I can assemble and shake in a mason jar, thank Universe for mason jars.  Of course you can make yours in whatever vessel you like, but there is something to not having to wash another bowl, make it in the jar you will store it in and boom, you have one less thing to wash up.

Look how amazing these shredded carrots look.  And of course you can make extra to add to leafy green salads as well.

 A teeming bowl of crunchy goodness.  And the next thing you know, the bowl is FULL! This happens when you put in everything but the kitchen sink.

How to make it for yourself and become a salad ninja.  Ok you’ve seen the pics, you want to initiate the salad ninja that lives inside every single of us.  You are going to love this one when you eat it, and perhaps you will fall in love with the colors like me, as you make it.  Either way, I think this one may become a winner for you.

What you will need:

Chopping board and sharp knife
Food processor (optional but worth it if you have it)
Containers to store.

Ingredients:

Your vegetables and fruits of choice.  We use organic where possible, especially for apples-they have a heavy pesticide load, and corn which is mostly genetically modified if not organic). I will share more on tips for knowing which Here is what I used:

Salad:

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package instructions
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and cooked according to package instructions
1 can black beans (we usually make our own but were out when I made the salad, canned is ok, don’t beat yourself up over this one)
1/2 head kale, take out stems, finely shredded
1 small leafy lettuce like romaine, finely shredded
2 red onion, finely chopped
1 corn on the cob
Cucumber diced
Small sweet pepper
3 carrots, finely shredded
1 (very) small red cabbage, shredded
1 apple (I like Fuji), chopped
Avocado (do not prep this, use when you serve not before)

Dressing:

In a mason jar, or similar, add the following, double if you like:
3 tbs cold pressed olive oil
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs fresh lime juice (or add an extra lemon if you don’t have lime, or make it all lime-choices baby!)
2-3 tbs red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar (optional but does give balance to the flavors, and with 4g of sugar in just one teaspoon this one isn’t going to alert the sugar police like most store bought dressings)
!/2 bunch cilantro finely chopped (or more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 tsp spice of choice, I actually just used an all purpose seasoning by Simply Organics
Shake the jar and taste, adjust seasoning

Putting it all together:
I like to add all the salad ingredients into a large bowl as I chop them, with the exception of the lentils and black beans (I add those when I serve the dish).

Dressing can be made in advance and stored separately, again dress as needed to avoid soggy salad, that is so not fun to eat!

Ready to serve:
Add in black beans and lentils.  Drizzle amount of salad you will be serving with some dressing, it’s a sharp one and a little goes a long way. Now serve this topped with avocado. You can also reheat the lentils and quinoa  together in a colander over a boiling water in a lidded pan,

Lovely fluffy quinoa, there’s some white and red quinoa in there, I like the pop the red gives, but use whatever you can get.  I always make extra quinoa so some can go in the salad and some can be heated to go on top-I do love something warm on top of my salad. And if you eat eggs, feel free to fry an egg on top-oh so good, but also tasty without, depending on your food preferences.

And that’s it my love, you can store this in the fridge for 3-4 days.  To keep it super fresh transfer portions to the containers you will be taking with you for lunch. Not only does this keep it airtight for longer, it also means your salad is ready to grab n go from the fridge when you want, no more hunting down containers when you are already running late, I know how it goes, that’s why we plan for success at the outset!

I’d love to hear your salad tales. I will be back with more very soon.

Always in love.

Sat nam.

Shiv