Designer greens: American salads are turning over a new leaf.
Springtime is the time to lighten up, especially at mealtimes, and a variety of new garden greens are here to help us do just that. Mescluns, mixes of tender young lettuces and peppery flavored plants--including purslane, arugula, chervil, and others--are gaining ground in American gardens and kitchens.
Seed companies now offer mesclun mixes, including Provencal Mix, Mild Mix, and Tangy Mix, the flavor depending on which greens are included. The mesclun mixes are grown in one garden row or patch so you can pick a whole tossed salad from one place.
The mesclun idea comes from southern France, where mesclun purists employ only certain greens in set proportions. In America, however, anything goes and mescluns may contain lettuces of all kinds, as well as chervil, endive, purslane, cress, parsley, fennel, escarole, and even flowers and dandelion greens.
Lettuces used in mescluns are mostly loose-leaf and include brightly colored red varieties such as Red Oakleaf, Red Sails, and Red Salad Bowl. Other common mesclun ingredients include chicory, an endive relative, and mustards,,as well as watercress, kale, and arugula (roquette). Herb components may include dill, ants, caraway, lovage, coriander, and angelica. The great thing about mesclun salads is that each bite has a slightly different flavor. And many mescluns are high in vitamin A as well as potassium.
The French season their mescluns with vinaigrette made of olive oil, herbs, garlic, and sometimes anchovies. To flavor our mescluns, we have prepared some new and delicious salad dressings made with the latest heart-healthy ingredients: flaxseed oil and soy products. They include an eggless Caesar salad dressing, a soy vinaigrette, a tofu Thousand Island dressing (one of our favorites), and a soy or flaxseed french dressing. Bon appetit!
Soy Thousand Island Dressing (Makes 1 1/3 cups)
1 package (10.5 oz.) soft tofu, drained 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ketchup 1 tablespoon green onion, chopped 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish 2 rounded tablespoons onion, chopped 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In blender or food processor, combine tofu, lemon juice, and ketchup. Whip till smooth. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and whip till blended. Chill minimum of 1 hour. Serve over salads or on hamburgers.
Per Serving (1 tablespoon): Calories: 19 Carbohydrate: 2.0 gm Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 1.1 gm Sodium: 52 mg Fat: 0.7 gm Diabetic exchange: Free list
"Eggless" Caesar Salad Dressing (Makes 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese Juice of 1 lemon 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar 1 cup olive oil 1 cup vegetable oil
Combine all dressing ingredients except vinegar and oils in blender until smooth. Remove center cap from blender lid to pour in oils. Turn blender on and slowly add oil to whirling mixture in fine, steady stream until emulsification occurs. After 1 cup oil, add vinegar. Continue with remaining oil. If dressing becomes too stiff, add small amount of water, just enough to keep it swirling. Final result should resemble thin emulsion.
Per Serving (2 tablespoons): Calories: 220 Carbohydrate: 0.8 gm Cholesterol: 3 mg Protein: 1.2 gm Sodium: 105 mg Fat: 23.5 gm Diabetic exchange; 2 fats per tablespoon
Modified French Dressing (Makes 5 servings)
1 tablespoon soy or flaxseed oil 5 tablespoons chicken stock (can be low-salt) 1 clove garlic, peeled 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh (or 1/4 teaspoon dried) tarragon 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley 2 leaves fresh basil, minced, or 1 tablespoon dried 1 tablespoon wine or rice vinegar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 1 tablespoon ketchup
Combine oil, stock, garlic, and herbs in small bowl and let marinate 2 hours. Add vinegar, lemon juice, pepper, and ketchup. Mix well with fork. Store covered in refrigerator; use within 1 week.
Per Serving (2 tablespoons): Calories: 34 Carbohydrate: 1.6 gm Cholesterol: trace Protein: 0.3 gm Sodium: 45 mg Fat: 2.9 gm Diabetic exchange: 1/2 fat
Soy Vinaigrette (Makes about 1 cup)
3 teaspoons honey 3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons rice vinegar 6 tablespoons water 3 tablespoons olive or flaxseed oil
Combine all ingredients in small, tightly covered container and shake hard. Serve or store.
Per Serving (1 tablespoon): Calories: 44 Carbohydrate: 1.5 gm Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 0.1 gm Sodium: 49 mg Fat: 4.0 gm Diabetic exchange: 1 fat
Mustard Salad Dressing (Makes about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon flaxseed or soy oil 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon favorite mustard
Combine all ingredients in covered pint jar. Shake well. Store in refrigerator.
Per Serving (1 tablespoon): Calories: 27 Carbohydrate: 2.0 gm Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 0.4 gm Sodium: 8 mg Fat: 1.9 gm Diabetic exchange: 1/2 fat
French Mixed Lettuce Salad (Makes 4 servings)
1 1/2 cups each of 4 lettuces (choose from arugula, endive, escarole, Bibb, romaine, or cress) 1/4 cup Modified French Dressing
Wash and drain lettuces. Tear each of 4 lettuces into bite-sized bits. Chill 30 minutes; toss with French Dressing in salad bowl and serve.
Per Serving (1 1/2 cup): Calories: 35 Carbohydrate: 3.6 gm Cholesterol: trace Protein: 1.2 gm Sodium: 31 mg Fat: 1.7 gm Diabetic exchange: 1/2 vegetable + 1/2 fat
Mustard, Spinach, and Endive Salad (Makes 8 servings)
4 cups mustard greens 4 cups fresh spinach 4 cups endive 1 clove garlic 1 cup Soy Vinaigrette 1/2 cup salad croutons, warmed 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Trim all greens, wash, and drain. Chill all greens in refrigerator 30 minutes.
Before serving: Halve garlic and rub it all around a wooden salad bowl. Add 1/2 cup Vinaigrette and greens. Toss thoroughly. Marinate 1 hour. Serve with warm croutons and top with Parmesan cheese.
Per Serving (1 1/2 cups) Calories: 147 Carbohydrate: 11.4 gm Cholesterol: 2 mg Protein: 4.4 gm Sodium: 246 mg Fat: 9.3 gm Diabetic exchange: 2 vegetables + 2 fats
Endive/Boston Bibb Plate (Makes 4 servings)
2 cups endive 2 cups Boston Bibb lettuce 1/2 cup Tofu Thousand Island Dressing or "Eggless" Caesar Salad Dressing
Clean lettuce and drain. Chill 30-60 minutes. Serve leaves or tear into pieces for salads. Portion and top each salad with 2 tablespoons dressing.
Per Serving (1 cup salad + 2 tablespoons dressing): Calories: 48 Carbohydrate: 5.7 gm Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 3.1 gm Sodium: 110 mg Fat: 1.4 gm Diabetic exchange: 1 raw vegetable + 1/2 fat
Seeds and Greens with Poppy Seed Dressing (Makes 4 servings)
2 cups chicory (ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces) or romaine lettuce 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 cup orange juice 1 tablespoon olive or flaxseed oil 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Combine chicory or romaine, onion, and sunflower seeds in large salad bowl. In small bowl, whisk together juices and oil.
In nonstick skillet, heat poppy seeds over medium-high heat until fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes. Add poppy seeds to salad, then pour on dressing and toss well to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Per Serving (3/4, cup): Calories: 129 Carbohydrate: 8.6 gm Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: 3.4 gm Sodium: 5 mg Fat: 9.0 gm Diabetic exchange: 1 vegetable + 1 fat