Nobody loves dessert more than I do (well, except maybe in New Zealand, where they eat more ice cream per capita than anywhere else in the world. . . as I’ve said before, I really must move to the antipodes). I’ve been known to eat dessert for breakfast, for snacks, for lunch, or for dinner. I’ve had dessert at 3:00 AM; I’ve ordered dessert before dinner in a restaurant. I like dessert even more than nutroast (that’s saying a lot) and more than sweet potato (though I do often include the former in the latter). And, in my younger years, there were times when I ate more than one dessert at a time (gasp!).
But even I was a little surprised to see that almost every submission for our SOS Stevia event this month was a dessert recipe (thanks, Alex, for breaking the streak). Like any other sweetener, stevia can be used in savory dishes, too. Wherever you’d add a touch of sugar, or honey, or maple syrup, you can usually use stevia. In fact, if you’ve been reading DDD for a while (or if you browse through the archives), you’ll probably note rather quickly that more than half my recipes tend to use this herbal sweetener in one way or another. And so, just under the wire, I am going to submit this second SOS entry tonight.
For most of my adult life (and believe me, that’s a long time), I’ve thought of salad as “boring” or “bland.” Perhaps it was due to the insipid, somewhat anemic lettuce and tomatoes (with a texture and flavor of raw potato) that are the only ones available during Ontario winters. Maybe it was that I associated salads with the constant dieting of my youth (and the lack of any gustatory pleasure during those episodes). Or it may have been that my passion for dessert was so powerful as to outweigh any appreciation of vegetable matter during all those years (not likely, as that would have ruled out kale, and peas, and sweet potato, and every other veggie I like as well).
No, the real reason I was so meh on salads was my father.
You see, my dad eats salad Every. Single. Day.
That’s right: Every.
Not only does he eat salad Every. Single. Day.- -he also eats the exact same salad– Every.
Are we getting bored yet?
My dad’s idea of “salad” harks back to the 1950s or so, when my mother, like any good wife of her generation, first tossed together that mix to accompany the salmon patties she served for dinner. The so-called “salad” consisted of a quarter of an iceberg lettuce, chopped (not torn) into bite-sized pieces; one third of a cucumber (peeled), sliced; half of a factory-farmed, barely blushing orb,(labelled a “tomato” in the grocery store), sliced; and a few slices of yellow onion scattered over top. This mass of water and fiber was then topped with a spoonful of Miracle Whip, all stirred together, and eaten. And that is precisely what he has eaten as “salad” ever since. And also–
No wonder I considered salad to be tasteless and dull–and steered clear for years, even after I lived on my own.
After I moved to Toronto in the 1980s, I discovered the joys of raw leafy greens and other veggies, including many I had never eaten raw before that (kale, parsnip and–for the first time this very month–fennel, to name a few). After an epiphany eating warm spinach salad in a Mason jar (all the rage at the old Mr. Greenjeans on Adelaide), I moved on to classic Caesar at Joe Allen’s (tossed together in a huge wooden bowl right beside your table); bean salad courtesy of my friend Carol during our PhD years together; quinoa salad in its many guises; and the now-iconic raw kale salad, a discovery made during nutrition school.
These days, I’m willing to try pretty much any kind of salad as long as it conforms to the strictures of the ACD (ie, no mushrooms) and doesn’t contain slimy creatures or animal parts. And though I’ve read that iceberg is back in vogue these days, for me it still evokes memories of those flavorless piles of pallid greenery that my dad continues to consume; I guess that after all those years, I just can’t escape my conditioned response to it. (“Well, you can say that again, Mum. And if anyone knows about conditioned responses, it’s us. Was that a bell I just heard?”).
This salad, a recipe I adapted from the venerable Bonnie Stern via The National Post, is aptly named “Green Crunch.” Almost every ingredient is, indeed, green–as well as crunchy. The slices of Granny Smith apple offer up a lovely, sweet and juicy contrast to the grassy crunch of the celery and mild fennel. Avocado provides richness and a creamy foil for the veggies, all bathed in a light and tangy citrus dressing. You can toss in any combination you please of greens and lettuce as a base.
But please, just be sure it’s not iceberg.
[As seen here, the salad is missing the avocado (which I added after the photo was snapped).]
Green Crunch Salad (adapted from Bonnie Stern, National Post)
A refreshing, lively salad with a surprising variety of tastes, textures and shades of green. We enjoyed this as a main course one night, then as a side the next–it held up well in the fridge overnight.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw apple cider vinegar
zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 tsp (5 ml) dijon mustard (for Stage 2, use 1/2 tsp/2.5 ml dried mustard)
6-8 drops plain pure stevia liquid, to your taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, preferably organic
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small head non-bitter lettuce, such as Bibb, Boston, Romaine, etc., washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces (not Iceberg!)
3 celery stalks, diced
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored, quartered and sliced
1 cup (240 ml) microgreens or mesclun mix (I used Italian mix)
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed, sliced
Make the dressing: in the bottom of a large salad bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients; taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Make the salad: Add all but the avocado to the bowl and toss; add the avocado and toss gently to coat with the dressing. Serve. Makes 4 large or 6 side salad servings.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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