Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Salad "Recipe" (to keep your kitchen cool and the veghead caesar lovers happy)

Welcome to one of my favourite things in the world: The Smorgasbord Salad. The toss-whatever-and-however-much-of-it-into-a-bowl-and-chow-down dinner. Or lunch. Meal? Meal. It's perfect for days like today.

Just like the post today's adventures in the kitchen came from, it's hot here too. Like melt into a sad little hungry puddle who doesn't want to cook kind of hot. And my go-to food of choice in this weather is of course ice-cream salad! Problems arose today, though, when I remembered that I'm a complete scatterbrain who didn't pick up her favourite salad dressing the last three times she's been shopping. Of the twelve or so (I kid you not) dressings we have in the fridge, caesar is the only kind I like. And it's one that, while I love it to death, is not vegetarian friendly. Anchovies my friends, in case you were previously unaware. Those (adorable) little buggers really botch that option up for me, so today was spent on a quick search for a stupid-simple recipe for some caesar dressing that didn't require a drive into town to get some obscure item that wasn't currently sitting in my kitchen. This was the outcome:
A pepita escaped!

To make my version of this super yummy salad you're going to need (and bear in mind I'm only making enough for myself!)

-A handful of kale leaves, washed and torn into bite-size chunks
-A handful of spinach leaves, washed and squeezed well (trust me, you'll have a soggy watered down salad if you don't)
-A handful of pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), soaked*
-Croutons (I was treating myself, shush)
-Your wonderful homemade veggie caesar dressing
-Extra veggies/fruits of your choice

Feel free to tweak away at this. I like swapping kale and spinach for lettuce a lot so that's what I often do with salad recipes. Does kale taste kinda like broccoli to anyone else? Maybe I'm just a weirdo.

Surprise! Pepitas are green! Not quite the same as pulling them out of pumpkin goop, eh?

 *Pepitas are basically pre-hulled pumpkin seeds. You can buy them that way, or you can make your own, up to you. They're pretty widely available in my area. All the local grocery stores carry them, as does Walmart and the Bulk Barn. As for soaking your pepitas (or other nuts and grains if you choose to throw them in...or consume them, period), you don't have to do it, but I highly recommend it, especially to those of you who don't eat meat and need to reap all the benefits you can from seeds and nuts. Soaking raw nuts and seeds neutralizes those nasty [to us, not the nuts!] enzyme inhibitors allowing your body to absorb the vitamins, good fats, and all that other great stuff found within much more easily, along side beneficial enzymes that are produced. Also, they shouldn't mess with your digestive tract after being soaked (also why you should soak and sprout your legumes but that's for another day). Convinced? Soak away! If not, look into it more. The possibility of my food going easier on my teeth and digestive tract convinced me pretty quick, haha. Honestly, to me it's worth the effort. Especially with almonds, which are less bitter and almost creamy after soaking. Yum!

Getting back on track here, if you  are going to soak your pepitas, just toss them in a container and cover them with a warm water and sea salt mixture (your brine) for several hours, rinse them off well, and you're done! If I want them for lunch I'll start them the night before, for dinner I'll start them in the morning. You can take it a step further and dehydrate them if you want them to keep/want them crunchy, but I have no experience with that, I just toss them in my salad as is.

The Dressing. I store everything in empty baby food jars lately. They're a great size for leftover sauces, beads, buttons...

As for the salad dressing, I didn't have fresh garlic or lemon on hand, nor do I have my measuring spoons accessible, so I guesstimated the amounts of lemon juice, garlic powder, and everything else needed. Next time I think I'll be upping the garlic and cutting back on the mustard and lemon juice. And maybe throwing in another egg. But all that is just personal preference, my my mum tried it and really liked it as is. Ah well. I'll see what I can do with the leftover dressing. For now, I'm pretty pleased with the results considering how leery I am of dressings. I have a feeling dinner tonight will be another smorgasbord salad if the temperatures keep up like this, haha!

pssst! This spiffy link and this spiffy link were really helpful to me in regards to the how to's and why's of soaking. This one  and  has a list of beans to avoid sprouting and this one talks about the facts vs fiction of sprouting.

I was chatting with The Boyfriend, so excuse the webcam pic... but my cat is a goober and I just had to share. He was bugging for a chin scratch haha
Stay Scary,

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