salad

Against the Grain

That’s actually a horrible title for this post, because I’m so very NOT against the grains. In fact, I’ve been really getting into using lots of different grains for my “starchy element” instead of just rice or pasta. The grocery store had quinoa and barley on sale, so I loaded up.

This week, the barley made an appearance in a really easy, but at the same time, kind of complex spring salad made with roasted radishes, barley, fresh strawberries, Manchego cheese (my favorite), and a bright, slightly sweet vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and honey. We’re talking layers of flavor and texture here, folks– great on its own or with some additional protein to give it a little more umph for a lunch or dinner sized portion.

Equipment:

Medium pot with a lid for cooking the barley
Measuring cups & spoons
Knife and cutting board
Sheet pan for roasting the radishes
Large bowl
Mixing spoon

Ingredients:

For the salad (makes 4 side salad sized servings):
1 16 ounce package of radishes, washed, trimmed and halved or quartered
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper
1 cup strawberries, large dice
1 1/2 cups cooked barley (follow the package directions for cooking)
2 oz Manchego cheese, shaved or broken into chunks

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Wash the radishes and strawberries, and prep as described above.

Toss the trimmed and halved radishes with the vegetable oil, salt and pepper, then roast for 25 minutes. While they’re roasting, cook the barley according to the package directions. Allow both to cool after cooking while you prepare the vinaigrette.

Whisk the apple cider vinegar and honey together until well combined. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture emulsifies. The traditional ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1, oil to vinegar, but if you want to make it even lighter, just drizzle in enough oil to make sure the vinaigrette will coat all the salad components well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Combine the roasted radishes, diced strawberries, barley, and cheese in your large mixing bowl. Drizzle as much of the vinaigrette as you like over everything, and stir gently. I recommend letting this salad hang out in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to let the barley soak up some of the vinaigrette. I didn’t have any on hand, but you could also throw in a handful of some fresh chopped herbs like mint or Italian parsley to add another interesting layer of flavor.

We had this salad for dinner with some poached jumbo shrimp, and it was pretty great. Grilled chicken would also be nice, or even just a handful of toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans. This would actually be a great make-ahead lunch for work, now that I think about it.

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Enjoy!

So, what exactly is a superfood anyway?

I’m about to drop some truth. Yep. Right there on your head. I hope it doesn’t spin your whole world into a tizzy, but it’s happening, so get ready.

There’s no such thing as a superfood, from a nutritional and a medical standpoint. It’s a marketing word created by some ad agency genius. Yes, genius, because it worked. Seriously, go on Pinterest right now and search for “superfood.” There’s a list of foods a mile long.

Do not misunderstand. I’m not saying the foods on those lists aren’t good for you. They’re great for you! They’re full of good stuff like antioxidants and phytonutrients and, well, yeah, lots of really good things. You should eat the foods on those lists because your body will appreciate being well taken care of. But, that’s all a superfood really is– a food that is good for you because it contains the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function and feel good. It’s food that is super for you!

So, when I show you how to throw together this salad, I’m calling it a “Superfood” salad because it tastes super, it’s super satisfying, it’s made of foods that are super for you, and it’s super easy to make. I made it for myself for lunch because I have this horrific flu straight from the depths of hell and I am desperately shoving anything that is good for me into my body until it decides to straighten up and fight back. I have literally been eating an apple a day since Monday. No joke.

This salad with roasted lemon-ginger vinaigrette contains:

Baby kale: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, copper, potassium, iron, protein, calcium
Toasted pumpkin seeds: magnesium, zinc, omega-3, fiber, antioxidants
Fresh blueberries: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, folate, phytonutrients
Shredded Brussels sprouts: low-glycemic properties, protein, fiber, Vitamin C, antioxidants, Vitamin K
Roasted Lemon: Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, pectin
Ginger: anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, may reduce blood pressure, and when consumed ahead of time, may help reduce the damage to your liver caused by taking acetaminophen
Olive oil: reduces risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, and may have a slight protective effect against depression

Super!

Equipment:
Aluminum foil
Knife and cutting board
Small grater (or the small side of a box grater)
Teaspoon
Large Bowl
Small bowl (for making the vinaigrette)
Whisk

Ingredients:
1 Lemon (I used two because I have plans for the second one later next week)
1 large knob of ginger, to produce about 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of shredded/thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
1 cup of fresh blueberries
1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
3-4 cups baby kale (or full sized kale, cut into thin strips)

For the vinaigrette:

Heat your oven to 450º.

Poke several small holes in the lemon.

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Place it on a medium sized sheet of aluminum foil with a small pinch of salt and pepper, then wrap the whole thing up into a little package and roast it for about 20 minutes.

While that’s roasting, take the skin off of your knob of ginger with a spoon. Don’t use a knife, because you’ll probably take off more than just skin and the outer layer of ginger is the bit with all the flavor. Instead, use the edge of the spoon to scrape off the thin outer skin of the ginger, then grate the peeled ginger directly into the small bowl you’re going to use to make the dressing.

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When you take the lemon out of the oven, open it over the bowl to catch any juice that might have already come out. Squeeze the rest of the juice into the bowl, being careful to catch any seeds. Mix the ginger into the lemon juice. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the lemon-ginger mixture while whisking briskly. The ingredients should start to emulsify.

I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of this step. I blame all the crap clogging up my noggin area. However,  I found a great video on how to make a basic vinaigrette that shows you the whole whisking thing at :47

http://www.howcast.com/videos/187985-How-to-Make-a-Basic-Vinaigrette

Alternatively, put all three ingredients plus a little salt and pepper into a jar with a lid and shake it like a Polaroid picture until it all comes together.

For the salad:

Thinly slice your Brussels sprouts. Alternatively, you could peel each tiny leaf off one by one… if you have all the time in the world and no place to be for the next little while. But yeah, let’s just go with the shredding thing.

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Roast your pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, just until they start to get some color.

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Toss the Brussels sprouts and the kale together in your large bowl. Top with the toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh blueberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Ta da!

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Have a super time making/eating this super salad that will make you feel super.