[Our potluck salad feast!]
Last week, I alluded to the annual potluck I host for my nutrition buddies. As it turned out, 2011 was the first time in eight years that I missed it (why thank you horrible flu, awful weather, and chaotic schedule with 200 student assignments to mark within one week). Needless to say, my friends and I all felt the omission, so I thought I’d use the warmer weather to make up for our lost time.
Since the habitual party takes place in December, the menu is fairly standard with stews, soups, and lots of holiday-themed baked goods. Switching to May altered the menu as well; I thought we should aim for something fresher and lighter (hmm, sounds like the HH’s description of me every time I lose a few pounds). 😉
My notion for an all-salad party was sparked initially by an exchange with a friend about a salad tasting party. Why, such a great idea, I thought! Less than a week later, I flew out to Monterey for the Dole Salad Summit, where I experienced true salad immersion: every dish in our lunch and farewell dinner contained Dole Salad ingredients!
Suitably inspired, I invited my friends to a pot luck Salad Soirée. Everyone was asked to bring a salad of one sort or another: it could be raw, with fresh greens or other veggies; legume-based, like the Warm Butternut-Chickpea Salad (which is still on regular rotation in the RH household); grain-based, like my favorite Buckwheat-Quinoa Salad; or any combination of the aforementioned.
Our Party Table
Here’s what we ended up with on our party table:
Raw Collard Wraps with Mock Chopped Liver, shredded carrot and red pepper
Our Salads Included the Following:
[clockwise from top left: Greens with Avocado Pesto Dressing; Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad; Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad (with cheese in separate bowl for vegetarians); Curried Tofu-Cauliflower Salad; and Three-Bean Salad.]
[This Arame-Edamame Salad is a long-time fave of mine. . . .]
[. . . I also made this Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad. . . ]
[. . . . and this Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad.]
Other offerings included these:
[Kale Salad with Pear, Smoked Tofu and Balsamic Dressing in the foreground; Creamy Pesto Pasta and Three Bean Salads at back.]
[And two Asian-inspired Salads: Snow Pea, Jicama and Sesame, above; and Napa Cabbage Salad (far left in the first photo at the top of the post).]
Some of us sipped on wine. . . and this:
[Almost-Instant Homemade “Kombucha” (see more, plus the recipe, below).]
And Finally. . . Dessert
[Raw Fudge-Topped Brownies (bet you thought it would be fruit salad, right? Heh heh! Recipe coming up next!)]
As usual, the evening was brimming with giggles, squeals, gasps, oohs, aaahhhs, OMG!s, “She said WHAT?”s, “No, you didn’t!“s, “Tell me more!”s, “That’s just tooooo funny!“s, “What’s in the recipe?“s, plus the usual array of stories about work, spouses, social lives, health, plans and dreams for the future, alternative health, catching up on the past, admiring of outfits, and sharing of experiences in personal growth. (“And don’t forget the yelps, barks, growls, ‘I love those treats!’-s, ‘How about another treat?’-s, ‘Let me give you my paw for a treats’-s, and ‘Zip it, Chaser’-s, Mum!“)
All in all, a fantastic evening with good friends.
And while I never got to make the new salad I had planned (I’ll mix it up in the next week or so and post it then), I thought that today I’d share the drink I served up alongside the wine, which was inspired by Lexie’s apple cider knock-off that she made back last November. Although there were only two of us in attendance who didn’t drink wine, every single person sampled the “kombucha” and loved it. Comments ranged from, “So refreshing!” to “This is great, what is it?” to “I LOVE THIS DRINK!”.
I’ve loved kombucha tea, a naturally-fermented and probiotic-full beverage gaining popularity in recent years, from the moment I first tasted it. Unfortunately, though, the price can be prohibitive. True, you can make it at home, but it takes more than a month for the tea to ferment properly, and it doesn’t always work, sometimes leaving you with a foul smelling, fungal mess.
This faux kombucha, on the other hand, employs sparkling water for the fizz factor and apple cider vinegar to reproduce the characteristic “sweet-and-sour” flavor profile of real kombucha; it also delivers its own healthy probiotic from the vinegar.
Let’s Make It the “Summer of the Salad”!
The salad-only concept turned out to be such a success–and everyone loved both the variety and freshness of the selections on offer–that I’ve decided salads and raw foods will be a trend on the site this summer.
How many of you are salad fans? Would you like to join me in celebrating the Summer of the Salad? I’d love to know your favorite recipes and any ideas for salads you’d like to see me feature on the blog! (Feel free to share in the comments).
In the meantime, here’s that Kombucha my guests were raving about. 🙂
[Freshly poured. . . with some fizzing action.]
Almost Instant “Kombucha”
Even though it’s not exactly authentic, this drink is still a remarkably refreshing and appealing beverage in its own right. And once you’ve made your tea (and allowed it to cool)–the drink practically mixes itself. And the bonus: absolutely no sugar is added! 😀
3 cups (1.5 liters) boiling water
2-3 fruity herbal teabags (I’ve used Ginger-Peach (my favorite), Lemon-Ginger, Ginger-Mint and Strawberry, all with great results)
2-3 green tea bags (or use more fruity herbal if you prefer)
3 cups (720 ml–or just use a 750 ml bottle) plain, lemon, lime or grapefruit sparkling mineral water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
30-40 drops stevia, to your taste
Place the teabags in a large heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let steep, covered, at least ten minutes, preferably until cold.
Once the tea is cold, add the remaining ingredients and stir very gently (it will fizz). Serve immediately. If you have leftovers, you can store this in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator, but it will lose its effervescence fairly quickly (still tasty, just won’t be fizzy).
Suitable For: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, low glycemic, allergy-friendly, vegan.
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