Call it a “bowl” or a main course salad. The concept of transforming a boring pile of greens into a colorful, creative and nutritionally-balanced meal is the way we eat now. Hearty salads studded with proteins, whole grains and, of course, plants is an easy way to feel good at lunch or dinner. Salads even work at breakfast when you top a bowl of your favorite veggies and grains with a poached or fried egg. Yum.
Main course salads have captured our imagination because it’s fun to combine different ingredients that bring varied textures and hues, including quick grabs like roast chicken or grilled steak from the night before, canned beans and fast-cooking quinoa. As for dressings, fresh herbs and high-quality oils and vinegars help create something vibrant that goes beyond what you find on supermarket shelves.
Once you get in the habit of making your own salad bowls, it becomes second nature. Remember to make an extra, undressed batch to take to work or school. Made right, they travel well.
Thanks to Louisiana’s year-round growing season, there’s a whole bunch of local produce to play with now for your salad projects. Spinach, kale and a variety of lettuces are in good supply at the Red Stick Farmers Market, despite the challenges with rain our farmers have faced this winter. You can also find raw additions like strawberries, carrots, grape tomatoes, bell peppers in many colors and scallions. And there’s plenty of seasonal broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and Brussels sprouts, which work great raw or roasted. Local citrus is still around, too, making it super easy to prepare a homemade dressing, or just to add a few sections of juicy orange or grapefruit.
This simple formula—shown in the picture at the top of this story—includes a combination of local spinach and butter lettuce, canned garbanzo beans, white quinoa, grape tomatoes and oven-roasted sockeye salmon. It’s a complete meal, full of protein, vegetables, good carbs and lots of vitamins and minerals.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.