I love a good alliteration, don’t you? Well, I guess I enjoy any alliteration, thanks OCD… So I try really hard year round to keep as many fresh fruits and veggies in the house and in our meals as I can. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to feed us balanced meals every meal if I bought all fruits and veggies fresh all year round. So I buy stuff in season, frozen, or canned.
*keep in mind when buying canned, look for “in its own juice”, “low/reduced sodium”, “no sugar added”, “packed in water” (as opposed to oil), and as a last resort “in light syrup”. These catch phrases can help you decide between the cans of peaches/tuna/peas or whatever.*
I think it’s completely ridiculous that fresh fruits and veggies are so expensive, but *shrugs shoulders* that’s the world we live in and I gotta feed my kids between now and when all the “reform” happens. (Don’t even get me started on school lunches or breakfasts– we don’t have time) I actually have a diagram and a cookbook Simply in Season (to find a diagram for your region check out your state’s EPA website, it’s there) that helped me learn (city dweller that I am) exactly what was in season (read cheaper, less greenhouse growing/truck traveling/etc) for my area when. In general, most of us have way more fruits and veggies coming into season this time of year, which is awesome cause I’ll eat raw broccoli all day long, but would rather never touch that stuff cooked. (remember, I’m the picky eater in my house) You probably noticed in a few other recipe posts we eat a lot of salad ’round here. In summer it gets more obvious. Because it’s the easiest, fastest, healthiest, don’t-heat-up-your-kitcheniest (go with it) meal for summer. I mean really, who wants to bake in the yard/at the pool/ on the commute home and then come home to stand at the hot stove? (or worse, the oven?) All you need to do is keep a base salad going (I’ll explain in a minute) and fixings and you can have salad several nights a week with no repeats. Here’s how:
You are going to want a large bowl with a lid. I’m talking large mixing bowl size. The idea is you make/serve/store your base salad in it.
I use 1/2 head of iceberg, 1 heart of romaine and 1/3 bag of baby spinach. You can switch these around, add more adventurous lettuces if you like, these 3 offer a good green balance that is pretty damn kid friendly.
To this I add 1/3 bag of matchstick carrots (yes, more expensive, but makes up for it in ease, lasting crunchiness, and if you have kiddies with braces they can eat these raw carrots Bonus Mom Points-we will tally those later 😉 )
Toss all of this together, it is your base. When you are storing it fold a paper towel into quarters and place it in the bottom of the bowl, then salad, then lid. (this keeps things crunchy (read good) waaaay longer)
You will want to change the paper towel every 2 days or so. (when it feels damp to the touch)
When serving you pull base salad into individual plates/bowls and then top with the other ingredients to serve. You can always just use this as a side dish to a main meal as well, in fact when I say “add a side salad” this is what I am referring to. As a side salad I add whatever raw veggies are in season, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.
Other great salad add-ons:
Tortilla strips (fun, colorful, less bread than croutons, which means you can have bread all buttered on the side, yum!)
Raisins (any dried fruit really, I happen to love the cran-raisins)
Chow mien noodles
Pecans/walnuts/peanuts (you get the idea)
Cottage cheese (try it instead of dressing)
Cooked & chilled green peas (surprisingly sweet)
Cooked & chilled white corn
Any canned bean (just THOROUGHLY rinse before adding)
What else can you think of? Stay tuned for meal time add-ons to this base salad recipe! (I might even remember to take pictures…)