The Fresh Foodie

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Tia Patsavas

 

Ask any college student: it’s hard to eat healthy at the dining halls. Sure, you have the Bertholf Commons’ staple salad bar with the typical garden salad add-ins, and the Dugout’s new salad bar is filled with many options. But for those of us who like to diversify our fresh salads, the going gets tough.

Besides just topping it with a new dressing, consider these ways to switch up your salad.

First, mix up your greens. If you’re an iceberg lettuce fan, try adding in some spinach, red leaf lettuce or kale.

Next, think about what other vegetables or fruit you want to throw in your salad: for a sweeter salad, try dried cranberries, strawberries or apples; if you want to stick with vegetables, go beyond cucumbers and toss in some red bell peppers, artichokes or portabella mushrooms.

Adding grains and proteins to your salad will easily turn your dish into a full meal. Some ideas include beans, lentils, couscous, chickpeas, grilled chicken or turkey bacon.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the cheese—crumbled, cubed or shredded, sharp, sweet or soft. Some of my favorites include crumbled goat cheese, shredded parmesan and sliced mozzarella.

To get started, try one of my two favorite salad combos, and soon you’ll be on your way to salad perfection.

 

Sweet Spinach Salad

 

There’s a reason why strawberries are a go-to add-in for spinach salads. Try topping this salad with a light dressing, like a strawberry or raspberry vinaigrette.

You’ll need: 1 cup pecans, 2 T butter, 2 T brown sugar, cinnamon, to taste; 4 cups spinach, ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese, ½ cup strawberries, ¼ cup dried cranberries.

First, candy your pecans. Toast the pecans in an ungreased, nonstick skillet over medium heat for two to three minutes. Add in butter, brown sugar, ½ T water and a sprinkle of cinnamon and stir so all nuts are well coated. Continue stirring for about four to five minutes. Pour onto baking sheet and let cool.

To assemble enough salad for two, mix together the spinach, crumbled goat cheese, sliced strawberries and dried cranberries with ½ cup of the candied pecans. Top with a salad dressing of your choice.

 

Quinoa & Kale Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

 

To make a quick version of this salad, you can buy precooked quinoa and substitute fresh tomatoes for the roasted tomatoes.

 

You’ll Need: Olive oil, 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 cup uncooked quinoa, 1 small bunch kale, ¼ cup feta, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, lemon juice, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°. To roast the tomatoes, place the tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well so tomatoes are coated in olive oil, and spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and wrinkly.

While tomatoes are cooking, heat ½ T olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and cook 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is fully absorbed. Remove from heat, and let stand five minutes before transferring to a bowl.

In the same skillet, heat 1 T olive oil. Add the chopped-up kale and cook until slightly wilted, about three minutes. Season with salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the roasted tomatoes, quinoa and kale. Top with feta and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice before serving.