Wednesday, May 19, 2010
BERRY BERRY GOOD FOR YOU
(PHOTO: E.f.R.'s Summer Berry Salad with balsamic vinegrette)
Berry season is a few weeks away for most of us in the Plains, but we can get these summer gems at our supermarkets at sweet prices. Before P'UP, this time of year would have been prime poundcake season, too. I'd be up to my elbows in Cool Whip. Now that I've been smoke-free for 39 days (THIRTY NINE DAYS), and now that I've come to better understand the "bliss zone" of my palette, I'm thinking this season is the start of something rather new (for me).
As I've mentioned before, using vinegars can help you to satisfy salt cravings without increasing your salt intake. Vinegars can also help to intensify certain flavors, particularly those with natural sugars. My favorite all-around vinegars (balsamic, rice, and raspberry) have proven to be rather satisfying when paired up in salads that contain fruits. This week, I made the above berry salad that contains red leaf lettuce, slivered almonds, blackberries, strawberries, and green onions. This is a nutritionally powerful and tasty salad. If you want to add an extra zing, consider adding feta crumbles or blue cheese crumbles. If you add these tart cheeses, consider using pecans instead of almonds, and add a teaspoon of honey to the dressing.
Basic Berry Salad
3 cups torn fresh red leaf lettuce or a mixture of spinach and lettuce
1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 green onions, sliced lengthwise into "matches' (instead of rounds - it's a flavor balance thing).
Basic Balsamic Vinegrette:
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning (or use three tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano, basil, and thyme)
1 clove garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
(1 tsp. honey if using blue cheese in your salad)
Combine vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in a glass or ceramic bowl (metal bowls will alter the taste of your dressing). Let "steep" for an hour or longer. Just before serving, whisk oil into the vinegar mixture thoroughly. Pour over salad.
This is a very affordable dressing alternative to store-bought, particularly if you have potted herbs at home like I do. I keep a kitchen garden on my apartment patio (that's another blog entry coming soon).
Good, happy eating!