Get Creative With Spring Salads

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Spring is the time of year to eat more salad, and not just to help you shape up. Salads can be delicious, extremely refreshing, and an art form. Begin your creation with ultra-fresh ingredients from local farmers, or from your own garden. Use a salad spinner to dry the leaves after washing. Then put together a variety of greens and add whatever flavors suit you. Fresh herbs, like basil, parsley, chives and most any vegetable will add interest. Add crunchiness with nuts, seeds, or croutons, and more flavor with cheese. No salad is complete without an easy to make, homemade dressing. Just find a jar with a lid and combine three parts olive oil with one part acid. Acid could be lemon juice or any type of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and shake the jar. Many variations may be made from this basic recipe by adding various herbs, garlic, mustard, or even honey. Lightly dress your salad to enjoy your sensational creation!

This recipe is a jazzed-up version of the three parts oil to one part acid classic.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

In mixing bowl measure honey, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. Stir with fork to combine.

Add balsamic vinegar and stir. Gradually add oil, whisking with fork to incorporate. Stir until fully emulsified. Store in a jar with lid. Makes one cup.

Taken from http://chinesegrandma.com/

This Caesar dressing has a tanginess that will make your tongue tingle. Caesar Salads are so delicious, but the traditional recipe contains raw eggs, posing a risk of foodborne illness. While I’m not an anchovy fan, the ingredient is essential. You’ll never realize it’s in the dressing.

Eggless Caesar Dressing

5 anchovy filets
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used brown spicy)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one week. Toss liberally with romaine lettuce, croutons and additional Parmesan for an authentic eggless Caesar salad. Makes one cup. Taken from thekitchn.com 

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. margie_mansure@ncsu.edu. (828)264-3061