Monday, March 14, 2011

Mixed Greens Salad With Goat Cheese And Avocado

Right off the start I want to send my condolences to anyone who lost a family member or friend and to everyone in Japan for the unfortunate circumstances which occurred this past week. What has happened there is very sad. I am heartbroken over this, but also in awe of what Mother Nature can unleash on us. To see what kind of devastation water can do, besides what the movement of the earth's tectonic plates can do is hard to imagine as Japan lost around 8' of it's coastline after the earthquake. I consider myself extremely lucky to live in a place where it is safer than most other places in the world in that regard, and I'm glad to see the North American west coast made out alright, except of course for the area around Santa Cruz, Ca. I really hope the rest of the world comes together to help out wherever it is needed in Japan. They are a very proud culture and it is difficult for them to even ask anyone for help, but they need it very badly.

On a happier note, I have a nice, fresh salad for you today. I started making this just before Mrs. Urban Eater (then known as my girlfriend) and I went to Maui a few years back. We rented a condo with a full kitchen, so we figured it may as well be taken advantage of. One of the things I experimented with before we went was this salad. I wanted something which was light, healthy and didn't weigh us down. Here are the results of my tinkering.

Salad

- 5 oz (142 g) Mixed greens, washed and thoroughly dried
- 1 avocado, cut in half, pitted and sliced. Do this just before you serve it so it doesn't go brown from oxidation. The best way to peel the avocado can be found on the link above.
- 10 grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 2.1 oz (60 g) goats cheese
- 4 Tbsp (30 ml) dried cranberries
- 4 Tbsp (30 ml) pumpkin seeds

Vinaigrette

- 2 oz (59 ml) EVOO. This was all I had to make a dressing with. A more neutral oil like grapeseed would work just as well or better.
- 2 tsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Add the salad to 2 different serving bowls
2. Find a small container with a lid. Add the oil and then the vinegar. I usually go with 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil. You don't have to as it's your dressing, but some oils can overpower the flavor of the vinaigrette.


Add the other ingredients to the container,


Put the lid on and give it a good shake.
3. Add the tomatoes to the salad. Pour the vinaigrette over top of the salad and mix it all around with your hands. Mix it all around, turn it over and over a couple times. This will ensure all the leaves will get coated.
4. Take the goat cheese and add about 6 or seven pinches of it to each salad. Pour 1/2 of the pumpkin seeds and cranberries over top.
5. Prepare the avocado and place it on top of the salad and serve.
Yield: Serves 2


This salad is a full sized salad we eat as a meal, not as a starter. Don't be scared of the fat in the avocado. It's a different type of fat and is actually very good for you. It's health benefits are too numerous to talk about here, but to start they are high in vitamin K, fibre, potassium and folate. All of these and everything else the avocado brings to the table makes it a solid, healthy ingredient to use and use often. I use goat cheese whenever and however I can. In this salad, it's the source of protein. Not a lot, but it has to be there as protein should be consumed in almost all of your meals in some form. It's also lower in fat and calories and higher in calcium than cows cheese. Pumkpin seeds go well with this salad as they are full of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, iron, vitamin K and zinc and add a crunchy element to the salad. The cranberries add another chewy texture and bring other health benefits as well. And of course, there's the tomatoes. Besides adding color, they add so much more on the health side.

Little O's Menu

They say you aren't supposed to feed your child peanut butter until they are 3 years old. I decided to try this with her when she was one because there were a couple of time I gave my little tortellini a kiss and didn't realize I had some on the outside of my mouth. I was always very careful about this, but sometimes just a speck got away from the water and towel. We also gave her some ear drops which had peanut oil in it and she was fine. I figured it was time she and her dad shared some toast, peanut butter and jam together. Loves it. We have this about 2 or 3 times a week now. We buy the natural organic peanut butter, none of that processed stuff. The other stuff is a treat for me when we visit the in-laws, but that's all.

We had a nice, quiet night out in Banff a couple of weeks ago. Next time I will talk a little about that and the restaurants where we ate.

Quote Of The Day:

"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist - the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil to put with one's vinegar."
~ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, novelist, dramatist and critic.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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