Thursday, 5 April 2012

A 'spring meets winter salad' on a plane


You would think that I would be tired of salads. After seven days of creating a diverse array of salads, a funny yet likely predictable thing happened. I fell into a salad trap. I cannot stop wanting to eat a mix of spring lettuce with a simple home made dressing. Nothing beats it. At least not when you consider the time, taste, quality and nutrition that goes into and comes out of making a fresh salad.

Today, as I start this post, I am 2 hours away from shooting up into the sky and across the country to Winnipeg, Manitoba. I hate flying. Let us just get that out of the way right away. My analytical mind will not let me not think about the possibilities (as rare as they are) for disaster in an aircraft. But I try very very hard to fight the irrational thoughts.

Distractions are the only way for me to make it through the twenty fours surrounding a flight. I focus on packing, planning, finding books and magazines to read, making sure I have my head phones and some podcasts to listen to. And of course, I like to make myself a snack. A snack that usually serves as the highlight of the time that passes so painfully slowly in the air.


For some reason, when traveling, I feel that people go into a mode of "lets eat crap that I normally try to avoid". I cannot say I am not also a victim of that mindset. But there is a unique feeling of superiority and smugness that creeps in when you manage to avoid unhealthy temptations even when you are living outside of your regular routine.

I remember one particular moment on a past flight when I opened up a container of freshly chopped fruit and veggies with dip. I remember the people on either side of me; looking over with their "yum"s and their "oh that looks good"s. It was nothing - fruit and vegetables chopped. But when you are trapped in a metal cylinder filled with nothing but your local gas station fare - soda pop, coffee, juice, salty pretzels and chips - some fresh produce looks pretty darn amazing.


For today's three hour flight I made myself a salad with leftover winter produce (beets, grapefruit and pear) and the new spring lovelies (chives, peas and asparagus). Balsamic vinegar and Cannensi extra virgin olive oil will dress my salad and likely assault the noses of my fellow passengers but I could care less. I know they will be wishing for a bite of their own as I crunch away on my super springy-winter salad.

*I made it to Winnipeg and my flight was smooth and even almost enjoyable. I nearly did not eat my salad on account of fear of annoying my fellow passengers. But, with about 30 minutes left in the air I could not resist. I must say I could not have been happier to have that salad to distract me for that last agonizing stretch in the sky. Now I am back on the earth, the weather here in Winnipeg is almost summer-like and I am so happy to be with my mom and my grandparents. Happy Easter Holidays everyone!


Spring meets winter salad

Ingredients
1 yellow beet
3 asparagus spears
1 small pear, chopped
1/2 grapefruit, segments
1/4 cup shelled peas
2 cups chopped spring lettuce mix
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 tsp fine sea salt
Chopped chives and fresh goat cheese to garnish

Directions
1 - Preheat oven to 400F or turn on grill (I use a George Foreman grill).
2 - Peel and thickly slice beet. Then, snap the tough ends off of the asparagus and lightly salt both.
3 - Grill or roast until tender. Asparagus will cook faster, about 10 minutes, while the beets will take 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
4 - In a large serving bowl, place in lettuce and top with chopped grapefruit segments and chopped pear.
5 - Chop up the asparagus and beets into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl with salad mix.
6 - Mix together dressing by placing vinegar, oil and salt in a jar then shake vigorously until emulsified.
7 - Top salad with chives and goat cheese.
8 - When ready to eat, toss the salad with the balsamic dressing.


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