The term, "salad days" in Britain is a reference to youth. I like it because if there is one food that keeps us young and healthy, it is fruits and vegetables. I like the trend that encourages us to add things like fresh blueberries to a green salad, as well as a handful of walnut or bacon pieces for a shot of taste that has less impact on our diet than bacon in sandwiches or, heaven forbid, tortured into all kinds of cutesy pseudo-foods like bacon taco shells, which give me the galloping epizootics.
Another thing that is happening in salad is making vegetable smoothies, which is a good way to include things in a nutritional drink that we may not want to eat in a salad. Tucson's health-oriented stores are full of organic fresh vegetables and fruits the year around, so if you are equipped with a super-blender, sometimes known as an emulsifier, you can follow the cookbook that you got with your order and start making amazing drinks as well as fresh, healthful salads.
When shopping at Whole Foods in Tucson, I found a salad ingredient made up of various shoots and leaves that was called Power Mix. I really like it, and the greens are so tender that they can be used either as a green salad with dressing, or included as a smoothie ingredient.
The bullet-type emulsifiers tell us that we can grind up seeds and stems in their recipes, but I must admit that I have yet to do that. It isn't appetizing to me, although claims are made that special nutritional benefits accrue to those who follow the more radical recipes and include most parts of the fruit. However, as I learned years ago, apple seeds are not healthful, along with peach, apricot and cherry pits, plum pits and a few other things. I wouldn't advise you to emulsify papaya seeds, even though they might appeal to you. Never grind up seeds unless you are positive that they are good for you.
If you are making a green salad as a side dish for lunch or dinner, or as a snack in the late afternoon, start with a handful of greens per person and then add a few extra touches. Cooked beans, berries, nuts and sliced fresh fruit are good additions, and on top of that you will need a super dressing that is flexible enough to taste good with anything. Do I have such a recipe? I sure do--and I got it from my little old gray-haired mother.
I am giving you in this article a slight variation on Bernice's French Dressing, which uses some ingredients to make it a bit more nutritional. There is no reason not to vary the oils you use; I was at Whole Foods awhile back and picked up a big bottle of avocado oil, for example. The flowing type of coconut oil (not the type that is congealed in a jar) also works if you blend it into a salad dressing. Walnut oil is also wonderful.
I happen to have something called Adjust-A-Cup that is like a cylinder with a watertight plastic plunger that goes through it. You can measure quite a few different units around the outside, but for salad dressing you find the Cups section, lower it down to 1 cup and then add oils, which you can see on the side as the overall measurement approaches the proper level. Then you tip it over the mixing bowl, push the plunger up and your exact quantity of oil is deposited neatly into your mixing bowl, or your blender or whatever. I use this tool constantly, and discovered it when I observed it in use by Chef Alton Brown. I got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Tucson, but I am sure they are carried in many local stores.
ULTIMATE FRENCH DRESSING
1/3 cup organic safflower oil
1/3 cup organic walnut oil
1/3 cup organic avocado oil
1/3 cup organic tomato catsup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup organic blonde sugar
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half an organic orange
2 cloves of fresh organic garlic
1/8 or one small organic onion
Place all these ingredients into a blender or food processor. Run the machine until the dressing is completely mixed. Transfer the dressing to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator between uses.
If you use the bullet-type emulsifier, the dressing will be light orange in color and very thick because some air will be incorporated into it. I must also mention that I made a recipe of this dressing while I was in Costa Rica, and shared it with my hotel manager's family. They were delighted with it, and I made a few recipes during my month there. They put it on everything, so as far as I am concerned, make it up and have at it.