Friday, May 4, 2012

May Is "National Salad Month" & A "Tricolor Cauliflower Salad" Recipe

As we begin the month of May, the weather is getting warmer. This means that you will be outside more and enjoying your days in the sun. As you participate in activities outside, you will want to prepare quick and nutritious meals for your family. Well not to worry, because May is “National Salad Month“. Who knew that a whole month was allocated to celebrate and enjoy the “salad”? What can be more simple and easy so you are not stuck in the kitchen cooking all day by a stove or oven, so let’s make a tasty salad!

Salads can be served as an appetizer to stimulate your appetite, a side dish that will accompany your main course, for your entrée which would include your protein, (beef, pork, chicken, or fish) and also for desserts that you can add gelatin and whipped cream for a delicious sweet treat. The salad can be made from many different ingredients, not just lettuce such as vegetables, legumes, eggs, cheese, and pasta. They may be served either cold or hot, often raw vegetables are added and many sweet fruits.

The word “salad” comes from the French “salade” which has the same meaning. The first appearance of the word “salad” was in the 14th century. Salt is also associated with salad because the vegetables were seasoned with a brine or a type of vinegar dressing. The “Salad Bar” term first appeared in American English in 1976. Many food historians say that the Romans ate mixed greens and dressing over two thousand years ago. In the United States the “salad” became very popular in the late 19th century. Throughout the second half of the 20th century salads have been sold in supermarkets, at restaurants, (salad bars) and even fast food chains that appeal to the health conscious customer.

A simple “green salad” or “garden salad” is the most common to be consumed. It is composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, and arugula cut into bite sized pieces. Due to their low caloric intake, salads are a common diet food. Other vegetables can be added to your “tossed salad” which includes; cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, nuts, and so many others too numerous to mention. That is what is so wonderful about a salad, you can make it your own by adding whatever you would like to your salad. There is no right or wrong, no special recipe, and you can use what is in season.

Sauces for salads are often called “dressings”. In our Western culture, there are three basic types of salad dressing; the first is called the Vinaigrette, which is an emulsion of salad oil mixed with vinegar, spices and herbs, plus salt & pepper. The second one is Creamy Dressings; usually a mayonnaise based, but may contain yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk. The last is the Cooked Dressings, which resemble creamy, but are usually thickened by adding egg yolks with a gentle heating. In North America, mayonnaise based Ranch dressing is most popular, with vinaigrettes and Caesar-style follows close behind. Some other popular dressings are Italian, Blue Cheese, Russian, French, and Honey Dijon Mustard.

In my Italian family, there was never a dinner without a huge bowl of salad. My family would always say, that there was, “always room for salad“. Served along side our entrée or at the end of our meal, was mostly a green tossed salad with all the trimmings. An Italian vinaigrette dressing which consisted of the finest olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and spices were drizzled on top of the salad. It was so tangy and sweet at the same time. Preparing any kind of salad is easy especially now you can purchase pre-washed salad greens at the supermarket or by supporting your local farmer’s market. So, no matter what type of salad you make for lunch, brunch or dinner, remember enjoy, and make family memories together.

My recipe this week is called, “Tricolor Cauliflower Salad”. One night I was watching “Ciao Italia” with Mary Ann Esposito and I saw her make this recipe. It looked so colorful and delicious that I had to try it. Fantastic! Not only the colors are so beautiful, but the taste is sweet and the scallions add a twist to its flavor. So enjoy a salad in the month of May and be creative with your ingredients.

Tricolor Cauliflower Salad

2 cups yellow cauliflower, separated into small florets
2 cups white cauliflower, separated into small florets
2 cups of green or purple cauliflower, separated into small florets
2/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup of White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of diced scallions
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1/2 cup of diced black oil-cured olives

Blanch the cauliflower florets in salted water for about 2 minutes. Drain and shock in a large bowl of ice water for about 1-2 minutes. Drain into a shallow bowl.
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, salt, scallions and garlic together. Pour over the cauliflower and toss well. Sprinkle the raisins and olives over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature before serving. Serves: 4-6 people
Till Next Time……

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  1. These colors are so eye catching. I have never even seen cauliflower like that. I have been on a mission to find more salads that are not leaf based and this one looks like a tasty one. Now I am on a mission to find that cauliflower!
    Enjoy the weekend.

  2. Thanks Tina,
    The colors are so bright and this dish is really different. It is not that hard to find the colored cauliflower, but you may see them at farmers markets. I know what you mean, we get tired of eating just leafy greens. It is time to change it up! Enjoy your weekend as well.