So you know those Little Men books, specifically the Little Miss Sunshine one? Well, for as long I have known, I have been referenced to this book character. Believe me, I have the pyjamas to prove it. I think this connection is simply because I tend to see the rainbow behind the proverbial clouds in any circumstance.
Like, Little Miss Sunshine I get giddy with excitement, sometimes with a booming laugh, over the simplest and most obscure things. And having spied cherry blossoms in Vancouver over the last few days, I’ve had some of that same giddiness. I can’t wait for spring to officially make her entrance. In the meantime, I’m on the cusp of eating winter foods and craving veggies non-stop. Yes, veggies for the win.
Usually salad doesn’t come to mind during the winter months. People, okay my definition of normal people, don’t get excited by salad. Usually them lot are indulging in hot and hearty foods. But, in my stubborn mind — salads have the ability to cross the Rubicon of replenishing my hungry soul. This leads me to this particular salad. It has the ability to bridge the gap between cold weather eats and a warm weather veggie fest.
Salads should never, ever be bastioned to only spring and summer eats. Even at the end of winter it’s possible to create tremendously fresh salads using herbs, citrus, spices and a few staples you may have on hand. Really, winter salads just need to be a bit more creative. Salads provide opportunity to really play with produce and think of it in out of the box ways.
This salad is one of my favourites. It requires no tricks, just an assemblage of ingredients I already have on hand. Recently, I was like “Damn, this is delicious. I should really blog about this.” Here we are.
To make this salad, open your fridge and rustle up some washed and dried spinach (most likely you have some). You can use another type of lettuce with this salad. Pretty much any mellow type lettuce or baby kale will do. I just love spinach for its vibrancy and I feel like I am scoring points with the veggie gods when eating it.
Sometimes I add a handful of cilantro to the greens. It adds another layer of freshness. Then because we are smack dab in the midst of citrus season, peel a few navel oranges. No navel oranges? Tangelos or pink grapefruits will do the trick. A handful of roasted chickpeas. The spiced chickpeas lend a cozy feeling to the salad, kind of like a warm blanket. They give the greens some body and crunch. I have a whole blog post revering my love for these spiced chickpeas, they are addictive and delicious.
Next, add a few super thin shavings of red onion (optional of course). Sometimes, I add a few pomegranate arils or big chunks of creamy goat cheese. This is truly when I want to make this more decadent or am extremely hungry. These ingredients combined create a great balance of sweet and tangy. Perhaps this salad could be labelled as a superfood salad? On second thought, let’s not do that. That label is overplayed. But there is lots of good stuff in here that it makes one feel healthy (hail the veggie gods).
Though I knew I wanted a salad with crunch, bright fruits and young spinach, I couldn’t put my finger on the right kind of dressing. After some tinkering, I came up with this dressing…
It’s the true star of this salad. It includes turmeric, which is referred by me as Indian Sunshine. Golden and bright, you can’t help smile when you see it. Instant sunshine. As of late, turmeric is getting some well-deserved attention. I love it for all its amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and detoxifying properties, just as much as I love the vibrant colour in dishes.
Turmeric is a root/rhizome that has been honoured for thousands of years. It has a major active ingredient, Curcumin is widely studied and proven to have many positive effects potent, powerful, and one of nature’s most healing ingredients. It’s known to boost immunity, speed up healing, and provide a gentle detox, among many other benefits.
The daily recommended dose of turmeric is about 1 teaspoon, however you have to take this daily or at least 3 times a week for it to have maximum effect on your health. If you want to boost the effects of turmeric then pair it with black pepper. Lucky you, this dressing provides opportunity to add turmeric and black pepper to your life.
The dressing like so much of my cooking is easy to do. Shake together in a glass jar and drizzle over your salad. You will have leftovers, which you can save for salads in the coming days.
Waiting For Spring Salad
1 large bunch/bag Spinach (washed and dried)
Handful of Cilantro Leaves
1 cup of Roasted Chickpeas
½ Red Onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Chunks of Goat Cheese (optional)
Pomegrante Arils (optional)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cut the very top and bottom off of the oranges. Carefully slice off the peel, removing the white pith while sparing as much flesh as possible. Cut into 1/2″ thick slices. Or just chop up. Make it easy for yourself. Drizzle some dressing over the spinach, and turn with your fingers to coat. Spread spinach and cilantro on a large platter and tuck the oranges throughout. Finish with a final drizzle of dressing, a pinch of sea salt, and several twists fresh pepper. Scatter chickpeas, red onion, goat cheese, and pomegranate arils on top.
Indian Sunshine Dressing
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated or ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch sea salt and black pepper
Combine dressing ingredients into a small jar and mix well until combined. Taste and adjust to your requirements.