If you’re like me, then you’ve probably often wondered how to turn a fresh, healthy all natural foods salad into a whole meal. It’s a classic dilemma in my house actually, as I live with someone who only reluctantly will eat an all vegetarian meal. Like last week, I made the standard black beans and rice with ripe green peppers and onions, only to be met with, “but…no sausage?!” So, as you can see, I better be creative in making a vegetarian meal if I want it to be a success and have it again.
And yesterday, I’m pretty sure I created the Ultimate Summer Salad! I took the classic standard, spinach and strawberries and turned it into a filling and delicious straight-from-my-farmers market, all natural foods vegetarian salad that even my husband was totally satisfied with.
It’s a simple concept, actually – and one I hope to apply to many other salads this summer. You take your veggies and simply add some whole grain and other protein source and voila! You’ve got the Ultimate Summer Salad! (Are you getting it yet, how this is Ultimate?)
So, I started with organic quinoa. This grain is not only a complete protein, but is also packed with iron and magnesium. Add it to a spinach salad, and you’ve got plenty of protein and iron, no meat necessary. Combine ¾ cup quinoa with 1 ½ cup water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Fluff and let it cool, but not completely. You want warm quinoa for the salad.
Meanwhile, get together two cups of local, organic baby spinach and about 10 local and ripe strawberries. Coarsely chop the baby spinach and slice the strawberries. Then prepare the dressing. You’ll need 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and one teaspoon each maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and minced shallots. Whisk everything together.
Now, once the quinoa is cooked, put it in your salad bowl and toss in 2-3 tablespoons of local goat cheese. Stir it together to create a creamy mixture, then toss in the spinach and strawberries and stir to combine. Finally, drizzle on the dressing until it is coated to your liking.
I’m telling you, the combination of slightly warmed goat cheese, sweet strawberries, tangy balsamic and crunchy spinach is divine. And it’s all natural foods: local, seasonal and straight from the farmers market. Enjoy!