I never used to be a big fan of salads; that was probably because the only salads I’d ever been introduced to were the bagged mixed greens variety coated in your choice of bottled dressing. I really didn’t like any of those bottled dressings, and the typical bagged greens topped with not-so-fresh tomato and onion tasted bland and, honestly, completely unappetizing.
Thank goodness I stepped out and experimented with how I could make salads fresh, appetizing, and delicious!
For a long time I would just enjoy my salad plain with no dressing, savouring the flavour of each vegetable on its own or how some blend together and complement each other.
Then I started adding in fresh herbs because I loved the bright and complex flavours they added; a little bit of fresh fruit went a long way to add sweetness and moisture; and toasted nuts or seeds brought a savoury, decadent, and satisfying quality to round out the dish.
Fresh lemon became my favourite ‘dressing’ – a bright acidity that tempers out the bitterness of certain greens and brings the entire salad together beautifully. I also find that the acidity of the lemon takes over any need for salt in a salad.
We have a beautiful big garden blooming with all sorts of herbs and vegetables right now. One of my favourite things to enjoy every day are the fresh baby salad greens my baba grows. Mild, delicate, and almost buttery in flavour, they make a great base for lots of other great flavours and textures.
Last night I had an Anjou pear I wanted to use up and decided it would go great with cilantro and toasted walnuts. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Serves 1 – simply multiply measurements by number of people for larger servings
– 1 cup baby greens (can also use Boston Bibb or other butterhead* lettuce)
– 1-2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
– 6 walnut halves, toasted and chopped
– ½ nicely ripened** Anjou pear, chopped or thinly sliced (or both)
– juice of ¼ lemon
Use baby greens as is or tear larger leaves into bite-size pieces.
Toss greens with cilantro, pear, and lemon. Garnish with a few pear slices and toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.
*Butterhead lettuce describes a family of lettuce with very tender, smooth, and delicate leaves. The flavour is mild, almost buttery. They come in smaller bunches and often still have the roots attached – I like to eat the roots, too! It can sometimes be pricier than other lettuce in stores which is why its so nice to have these available fresh from the garden at home.*
**Anjou pears can be tough and lacking in flavour if they aren’t properly ripened. Keep them at room temperature to ripen until the top, thinner portion of the pear is softened and gives a bit under the pressure of your thumb; then they can be kept in the refrigerator. I like to use them when the top is a bit over-soft and the pear is softer and juicier throughout.**