Treat your body to an infusion of nutrients. This quick salad is rich in vitamins and minerals, with dark leafy greens, dried apricots, walnuts, and roasted pumpkin seeds, topped off with a homemade orange zest vinaigrette. The recipe for this salad is so simple, it’s not as much of a recipe as it is a remembrance of how easy it can be to make a really good salad that’s really good for us. Sometimes all we need is a nudge in a certain direction, or a simple reminder, and we have a really delicious salad in front of us that came mostly from foods we have in our own pantry.
If you live in a northern climate like I do, spring takes her sweet time to truly settle in, and winter does not give up without a few fights. We are in such a situation right now, where it is cold, gray, and wet. The only indication that it really is springtime is that the birds are singing loudly and beautifully, and the crocuses are proudly carrying on, despite the cold rain. And I am really grateful for that! However, during this time of year, I often feel depleted of energy and nutrients. The longing for spring and all that it brings is strong, yet we are not quite there yet.
So to remedy the situation, I have been eating this salad for lunch for the past few days, and it is really helping my energy level and my overall feeling of health. Even if greens are not growing in my own garden yet, they are growing somewhere nearby, and fresh greens are appearing at the grocery store more and more as this month progresses. And mandarin oranges have been on sale at the grocery store lately, so the orange zest salad dressing seemed like a good idea. There are so many nutrients in leafy greens and they are so well known, that I don’t feel the need to list them all. The rest of the salad is from staples I like to keep on hand, and though I sometimes take them for granted, these ingredients are full of really good stuff. Dried apricots are known for their potassium and iron content, walnuts for their omega 3s and vitamin E, and roasted pumpkin seeds for their zinc, manganese, and magnesium. And that’s just mentioning a few of the minerals found in these foods.
For me, it can be easy to get sidetracked and just graze on some pretzels and cheese for lunch, so eating this salad has been a boost to my nutrient intake, which helps my energy level and outlook on life. The recipe below is for two servings–feel free to double it or whatever, depending on how many you are making. And just a note–in my photos, the dried apricots look like bacon! (Not that bacon would be bad in this salad–it would probably taste really good!) They are actually organic dried apricots, so they aren’t the bright orange that some of the dried apricots are when they have preservatives to retain their color.
With the events going on in the world the past few days, we need all the energy and nutrients we can get to keep a hopeful attitude. I usually don’t like to talk about politics or world affairs much in this blog, and I don’t want to say much, except that I am saddened by the events and words that are tearing people apart lately, and I hope that we can each do our small part to help try to put love and healing toward the hatred. There is no easy answer, and I don’t pretend that there is, nor do I pretend to know the answer. I do know that I want to take care of the people I love, and if we all try to take care of one another, it will help. Food is a way for me to do that.
On a much lighter note, even if the weather doesn’t feel like spring today, I did see 6 mallard ducks waddling down our road this morning. I’m not sure where they were going, but I hope they got there safely. And if you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend! If you don’t, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I managed to get some photos of the crocuses when it was sunny a few days ago, and they look to me like rays of hope.
For the salad:
- a large handful of leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or lettuces
- a handful of dried apricots, chopped
- a handful of walnuts, chopped
- a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
- feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
For the dressing:
- 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of honey
- 6 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing, first grate an orange peel for the orange zest (and eat the orange!). In a glass jar, combine the orange zest, mustard, wine vinegar, and honey. Add the olive oil, and shake or whisk till combined. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad, arrange the greens on two plates. Sprinkle on the desired amount of chopped apricots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle on some feta cheese, if desired. Pour the dressing over the salads. If you like a lot of dressing on your salad, you may want to double the dressing recipe. Enjoy!