I made this light summer salad for dinner this evening because summer has come to Florida! We are experiencing the afternoon torrential downpours, as well as the heat and humidity. My porch plants start to protest if I skip even one day of watering. Some of them even prefer twice a day (I’m looking at you, tomatoes).
This summer salad recipe is flexible; the ingredients can be changed up to suit your own tastes and produce availability. I really enjoyed it with the tangy fruits, as the dressing is subtly sweet and herbal, so the flavors compliment each other nicely. The addition of tender greens and sprouts also provides a nice balance of flavor to counter the sweetness in the fruit. Finally, the edible flowers are totally optional, but I grew them in my garden without any chemicals, and I love how they add a little extra “art” to the presentation.
Regarding the health benefits of this dish…
I strive to include raw leafy greens in as many of my meals as possible. They are full of fiber, vitamins, absorbable calcium, iron, and they are my favorite source of protein. Per calorie, many leafy greens have more protein than meat, and you won’t be sacrificing any of the valuable phytonutrients in the process of consuming it. When you consume them raw, you keep all of the heat-sensitive vitamins and enzymes intact!
Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse! Because the little plants are preparing to use a lot of energy to become great big plants, they are full of vitamins and enzymes (a type of protein), which help you to break down your food more efficiently and absorb more nutrients from it. The protein in seeds is higher quality and more absorbable when they are sprouted. Additionally, many nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, which are not broken down until they are soaked and the germination process begins. During the sprouting process, essential fatty acid content is higher than in the seed alone as well.
Fresh fruit in a variety of colors ensures a variety of nutrients are present in your meal! Pineapple, kiwi, and strawberry are all excellent sources of vitamin C, some of them more so than citrus! Pineapple is highly anti-inflammatory, strawberries are a great source of zinc (from their seeds), and while kiwi’s best traits are being high in fiber and vitamin C, it might also help you get a better night’s sleep. I’ve got some organic apples in there too. Apples are a great source of potassium and the skins contain an antioxidant called quercetin (also found in onion peels, but we don’t want to eat those!). It can help to block histamine response if you are an allergic type of person, and it combats inflammation of your neurons, which means apples are good for your nervous system and might help to prevent dementia. Apples help to keep us sane. 😉 Their high fiber content also helps to reduce cholesterol.
Marigold petals are edible! Their bright orange color comes from carotenoids – the same antioxidant family that gives carrots a similar hue. Three particular carotenoids in marigold petals are lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. The former two help to protect against damage to your eyes as you age. So, get out there and nibble on some flowers! I tossed a few cucumber blossoms in there for good measure. I had to trim back my vines a bit today due to my limited porch space. I knew they were edible and I don’t let perfectly good food go to waste in this this home! (http://www.livestrong.com/article/444206-health-benefits-of-marigold-flowers/)
The dressing for this salad is really amazing. I used a probiotic drink called jun that I brew myself (along with kombucha and a slew of other things I enjoy fermenting), fresh lime juice, local raw honey, flax oil, and fresh sage and peppermint from my garden! Every single ingredient serves to boost the nutritional value of the meal. The jun adds more biodiversity to the gut flora (and a very pleasant floral green tea flavor to the dressing). Combined with improving my gut flora, local raw honey has done miraculous things for my seasonal allergies. I like to add a small amount to my food/drinks a few times a week. As I have significantly reduced my oil consumption, flax seed oil is one that I still consume in small amounts, as it is the only plant based oil that has more omega 3 than omega 6, making it anti-inflammatory. One of the reasons that sage and mint pair so nicely together is because they are botanically related! I love to pair related plants. They always seem to compliment each other, flavor wise. Peppermint is great for digestion and sage can help to improve memory function. It’s also anti-inflammatory and was once thought to be crucial in fighting off the plague!
- 5 oz butter lettuce (or tender greens of choice)
- 1/2 red delicious apple (always buy organic apples)
- 4 large strawberries (always buy organic berries)
- 2 kiwis
- 1" section of pineapple
- 1/4-1/2 cup sprouts of choice (I used sweet clover sprouts)
- Edible flowers (optional - I used marigold petals and cucumber blossoms - both from my garden)
- 1/4 cup jun (for a similar flavor, substitute 1/4 cup chilled jasmine green tea + 1/2 tsp honey + 1/4 tsp ACV)
- 1 lime, skinned
- 2 TB flax seed oil
- 2 TB local raw honey
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 12 fresh peppermint leaves
- Add 2.5 oz of tender greens to each plate (should be easy to divide based on standard sizing of packaged greens)
- Chop fruit and arrange on top of the greens to your artistic liking
- Add appx 1/4 cup sprouts to each plate (or just a few pinches - however much you like)
- Sprinkle with edible flowers
- Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend until thoroughly combined (each serving is roughly the size of an espresso cup - shown in photo)
- Top salad with dressing
- Eat with someone who will make pleasant dinner conversation and give thanks for the bounty on your plate. 🙂
- Jun is a fermented drink that is made using a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). It provides a blend of probiotics that are good for your gut. It is grown in a similar fashion as kombucha, but is grown in a medium of green tea and raw honey. This being the case, the jun has a light floral taste (pending the type of honey you use - orange blossom is my preference). I realize that most people probably do not have a jun culture, so the closest thing I think you could substitute to get a similar flavor in the dressing is an equal amount of a light jasmine green tea with just a small amount of honey, and an even smaller amount of ACV to account for the every so slight acidic flavor of the probiotics.