If you’re like me, this time of year you may go a little overboard with salads. It’s hard not to with all of the fresh, crisp produce popping up in gardens and farmers markets. I absolutely love a good leafy-green salad, but sometimes I want more than just a lettuce version– something a bit more substantial than those delicate little leaves. When I’m looking for something heartier, I often turn to my favorite un-lettuce salad. It’s my favorite way to incorporate a load of healthy vegetables into a meal.
Alright, this “recipe” is more of a suggestion– an idea, if you will. You can use what you have, but this is the combination that I like best. All of these vegetables are currently available in Minnesota. The pea tendrils give this dish it a nice slightly sweet flavor. If you can’t find them, a few spinach leaves make a lovely replacement. Roasted red peppers add a brilliant kick. If you can’t find fresh ones, feel free to buy a jar. Sun-dried tomatoes would be perfect in this salad, too. Ricotta salata is my go-to cheese for summer salads– I love it’s subtle flavor, but parmesan, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue would all work. I used pepitas here, though I often turn to sunflower seeds for a nice crunch. Load it up with herbs, if you want. I like dill with this combination. Are you feeling me, here? Use your imagination, you’ll be happy.
Sometimes I make a simple vinaigrette with this salad. This one works well. But, more often, I choose to do something creamy, so I enjoy this simple herbed buttermilk dressing. It’s less gloppy and bad for you than the bottled versions. I like a dressing that lightly coats my greens, instead of sits on top of them. I still use full-fat mayonnaise, but just less of it (even better if you make your own completely out of olive oil– recipe coming soon on that). The reduced-fat versions tend to have a sweetness to them that makes for an off-flavor. And honestly, don’t even get me started on the fat-free bottled dressings that are on the grocery store shelves. If you have them in the refrigerator, do yourself a favor and toss them out. They are loaded with a bunch of junk (corn syrup to replace the fat? Seriously?). Not to mention, your body needs a little fat to absorb all of those healthy things that you eat a salad for in the first place. Make your own and use less. Hope you enjoy!
The Recipe: The Un-Lettuce Salad
(Make this as big or as small as you like)
Handful of pea tendrils, large stems removed
garden peas, left in the pod or not
roasted red peppers
ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
pepitas or sunflower seeds
dill or any herbs you prefer
Herbed Buttermilk Dressing:
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (full fat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped dill, oregano, and parsley
kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
To make the Dressing: Combine all of the ingredients into a small jar and shake. Make sure to season properly with salt and pepper. If you prefer a thicker dressing, and a bit more mayonnaise.
Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Place into a large salad bowl and coat with a bit of dressing. Top with the cheese, nuts, and dill. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by Relishing it today!