I didn't expect to feel the transition to spring in Northern California.
Well, not so much anyway.
Unlike the dramatic seasonal transformations that take place at home, and the huge relief and joy that accompanies them, I suspected the transitions in this part of the world might be more homogeneous. Boring even. But I was wrong. We are surrounded by a myriad of colors, blossoms and burgeoning new life. I feel a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm and I know you will too. Spring may be late in coming in certain parts of the world ("I think we're on to our next winter" is the best line I've come across by the way) but it's on the way, that we know for sure.
And what I love most about this time of year is that everything is expanding, including our dietary options. Soon farmers' markets will be abuzz with an array of deep pigmented produce each delivering a different vessel of potent nutrients and taste sensations.
Fruits and vegetables are not only replete with vitamins, minerals and fibre, they are also the number one source of health-protective antioxidants and powerful phytochemicals in our diet (plant compounds that also have disease fighting properties) all working together to help fortify our health and shield us from disease.
The key here is to take advantage of what's in season (whether it's from your farmers market or local grocer) and aim for variety to benefit from the broadest spectrum of nutrients possible.
Ninety percent of today's featured salad comes from our local farmers' market -- especially beautiful in early spring is the lush rainbow chard, the bright green sugar snap peas, radiant radish, citrus (ongoing) and beets of all colors and descriptions. The berries are also from Cali but just a little further south ;-).
You will note from the nutrition facts that we have met our daily requirement of vitamin A and exceeded our vitamin C requirement by 300% from one serving of this simple, delicious salad. Of course, not measured are the potent antioxidant/phytochemicals as well as a host of other vits/mins in this dish (vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, manganese, lutein).
Don't miss the swoon-worthy vinaigrette!
Cheers to a radiant Spring.
Full-Spectrum Energizing Salad with a Honey-Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette
For the Salad:
- 8 large leaves of rainbow Swiss chard (substitute other greens: spinach, kale, mustard greens, etc.), washed and torn into bite-sized pieces and massaged*
- 1 small bunch radishes (you will need about 4), sliced thin
- 2 cara cara oranges (substitute any orange or citrus of choice), sliced with rind removed if preferred
- 1 yellow sweet bell pepper, sliced or chopped
- 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
- 14 or so sugar snap peas, with fibrous outer string removed*
- 2 medium kiwifruit, sliced
- 1/3 cup blueberries
- 1/3 cup fresh raspberries or strawberries
- 14 or so raw unsalted almonds
For the Honey-Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette:
- 2.5 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (substitute white rice or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 heaping tsp grainy Dijon mustard
- pinch Herbes de Provence
- 1 heaping Tbsp fresh Tarragon, finely chopped
- sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
Nutrition & Cooking Notes:
- Massaging dark leafy greens is a simple and effective way of softening the tough fibrous exterior of raw greens rendering them more palatable/digestible without cooking them. This method can be used on any dark leafy green (kale, chards, collards, turnip/mustard greens, etc.) Once you have your bite size pieces assembled into a bowl, simply spray (or drizzle) a touch of olive oil over the greens and use your fingers to gently massage the oil into the greens. You will notice the greens taking on a slightly darker, silken appearance. You can also use a little mashed avocado instead of olive oil as your lubricant.
- Sugar snap peas are beautiful, delicious and nutritive but they come with a tough string that some find rather difficult to chew and digest. I recommend using a paring knife to snip off the ends of the sugar snap pea while pulling back on them to remove the string that runs the full length of the pod. (You can also gently steam the sugar snap peas to soften and facilitate this process). Once this fibrous string is removed, the pod splits open easily. You can then enjoy both the peas and the stringless pod at this stage.
- Common antioxidants found in the diet include vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium. Here are some antioxidant-rich ideas for your basket: • Vitamin A: sweet potato, squash, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, cantaloupe, peaches, mango, apricots, carrots • Vitamin C: red bell pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts, citrus fruit (oranges, lemon, lime), kiwifruit, strawberries • Vitamin E: wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut, avocado, spinach • Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, tuna, beef and chicken liver, whole grains, garlic, eggs
- See Nutrition and Cooking notes above for details, options and explanations.
- Simply wash, chop and assemble ingredients into a large serving bowl or individual salad plates/bowls.
- Meanwhile, in a small container with fitted lid, place all of the vinaigrette ingredients together and shake vigorously before drizzling over salad.
© Inspired Edibles
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Northern California in bloom
beautiful market fresh rainbow chard
our farmers' market is open year-round