Cook's Corner


Acrisp green salad is always a bright and perky accent to whatever you’re serving for dinner. But after a long, wet winter, the lettuce we buy for our salads can be very disappointing. The dreary days and endless winter rains lettuce is often kind of wimpy and tasteless.

In fact, my dinner salads have been so boring that not even the dogs want to eat them. I finally gave up on my old stand-by-salad of lettuce, tomato and avocado. Instead, I opted for fruit combos. I think I’ve added more shredded carrots, cabbage, cranberries, apples and oranges to lettuce salads than ever before. 

I had the same bland, boring problem with green vegetables. One can only eat so much broccoli or green beans and I have had my fill. So I went looking for a different, tasty and interesting green leaf lettuce salad AND an unusual green vegetable combination. I found both in an old “Good Housekeeping” magazine.

The following recipes violate my rule of “the fewer ingredients the better” but they are worth the effort. The salad is a little confusing because it has three parts: dressing, pickled red onions and the salad base of greens, etc. But is tangy, crispy and different. The Spring vegetables are a meal in themselves.

Good luck and enjoy!

Pickled Red Onions

1/3 c. fresh lime juice

1/4 c. distilled white vinegar

10 oz. small red boiling onions (about 30), peeled and halved, or 1 red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

Make Pickled Red Onions

If using boiling onions: In medium bowl, stir lime juice, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt together. Heat medium saucepan of water to boiling on high. Add small onions; boil 1 minute or until just softened. With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with lime juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least 40 minutes or until cold. Makes 2 cups.

If using sliced onion: In small bowl, combine sliced onion, lime juice, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes, stir occasionally. Makes 3/4 cup.

Transfer to a jar; refrigerate (up to 2 weeks) until ready to use.

Salad

3 c. coarsely torn romaine lettuce hearts (from 1 head)

1 1/2 c. green cabbage, very thinly sliced

4 radishes, cut into matchstick-size strips

1 carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved 

Pickled Red Onions (see recipe below)

2 small avocados cut into large chunks

1/2 c. coarsely crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese

3 tbsp. toasted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 1/2 c. tortilla chips, coarsely crumbled

Make Salad: Just before serving gently toss romaine, cabbage, radishes, carrot, and tomatoes with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt. Drain pickled onions and scatter over salad. Top with diced avocados, Cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, and crumbled tortilla chips. Serve immediately. Serves a lot!

QUICK BRAISED SPRING VETABLES

4 green onions, trimmed and slices

2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

3 tablespoons olive oil 

3 tablespoons lower sodium chicken broth (or water)

8 ounces asparagus (trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces)

1 cup fresh fava bean (shelled, from about 1 pound pods, peeled, or sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise)

1 cup garden peas (shelled fresh, from about 1 pound peas in the pod or frozen peas, thawed)

1/2 head escarole (torn into bite-size pieces, about 2 cups)

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves 

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (finely)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (finely)

1/2 cups baby spinach leaves (loosely packed)

Parmesan cheese (for serving)

In heavy 12-inch skillet, combine onions, garlic, oil and broth; heat to simmering on med. heat. Cover; cook about 2 min. or until onion softens slightly. 

Add asparagus, fava beans and peas and sauté 2-3 min. or until heated through. Add escarole, spinach and basil; sauté 2-3 min. or until escarole wilts and asparagus is crisp-tender. 

Stir in lemon peel and juice. Season to taste with kosher salt. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with chives and grated Parmesan. Serve immediately. Serves 6.