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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

cookbook review: raising the salad bar

raising the salad bar

I heard about this cookbook on NPR, where they were reviewing their favorite 10 new cookbooks, and had to order it. Here's a little background: I already cook what I believe to be "healthy." This doesn't mean dieting or counting calories at all; my definition of healthy involves eating organic fruits and vegetables, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, seafood harvested in a sustainable way, whole grains, and above all, no processed foods (i.e. "made from scratch" whenever possible). Because A has a ridiculous daily requirement for protein, I've found myself cooking a less-than-ideal ratio of meats to everything else. This has been bothering me lately, and I won't get into all the reasons here (some related to consuming more than my fair share of natural resources, some purely health related). So I'm going to make an effort to make more creative salads and vegetables as the focus, with smaller portions of meat, and fish in lieu of red meat more often. That's why this book really caught my attention.

I started by making the cover recipe, an arugula and avocado salad, with a light lemon and olive oil dressing with a little shaved parmesan. (I took half a leftover chicken breast, combined it with walnuts and grapes, mayo & dijon, to make a small portion of chicken salad, stuffed into a small pita pocket - a great "side" to the salad!) The recipe makes 4 servings; I halved it for 2 salads. The half recipe is below.

arugula and lemon dressing

The dressing was simple: one garlic clove, minced, plus the juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil. Toss this with 2 cups of arugula, and divide onto 2 plates. Slice half an avocado and arrange the slices over the salad. Add a few strips of shaved parmesan, a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper on top.

arugula avocado salad

Here's the result - looks pretty similar to the photo on the cover, right? The fact that the recipe turned out like the picture is one of my criteria for a positive cookbook review; the other is the actual recipe tasting delicious. So far so good! I'll post another salad later and see if the trend continues...

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