Summer salads are here – but to be fair – salads are my favorite year round. It is not that I think that you have to eat salads to be healthy, but I love the endless variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, homemade dressing and the creativity that comes with coming up with different flavor and nutrient combinations. All school year I made jar salads for lunch and the last couple of months I have enjoyed making pasta salads. If you like pasta salad you might want to check out my recipe for Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill which I have received many positive reviews.
In May I started making bento-styled lunches in three cup Pyrex containers. Instead of making Mason jar salads a week in advance, I would use the leftovers from dinner and other vegetables that I had on hand and make a couple at a time. I would drizzle with homemade dressing, and like always, I would add two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each salad for portion control.
When I make salads, I like to bulk them up with ingredients that are going to have staying power. I love to add beans or raw nuts for protein and whole wheat pasta, other grains, or quinoa. For the salad that I am sharing today, I decided to use rice noodles – because I thought they would work well with the spicy chili lime dressing. My husband Mike loves rice noodles and I usually have them on hand. They come in a variety of textures (for this salad I used a thicker noodle) but the thin strands would work well too.
When I made the salad I prepared it three ways – in a jar, plated, and in rectangular Pyrex containers – so you could see the salad multiple ways. I love to create vibrant salads, since we eat with our eyes first, and I think that taking time to artfully arrange food helps deepen our enjoyment and brings eating to a new level.
How much of each ingredient you use will depend on how many salads you want to create. I made two Mason jar salads, three Pyrex salads (three cups), and one plated salad with the following:
SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING
- 1 quart of cherry tomatoes halved
- 5 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 1 head of broccoli, steamed (I used one large bag of frozen since that is what I had on hand)
- 1 twelve ounce bag of edamame (I find mine the “healthy” freezer section. I always make sure the edamame that I purchase is organic)
- 1/2 head of purple/red cabbage, chopped
- Rice noodles, cooked (I used 1/2 of a 16 ounce package)
- 1 cup of rice vinegar
- 1 lime (juice and zest. If you are using bottled lime juice, one lime rendered 1/4 cup)
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil (sesame oil has a very distinct taste and I love to use it to stir fry vegetables as well)
- 2 Tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon garlic chili sauce (I purchase this sauce at Target and many grocery stores carry it in the Asian food section. Warning — chili sauce is SPICY so you may want to add a little at a time. I like heat so I even added more after mixing)
- 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped onion (I used red onion but green onions would be great for this dressing)
- 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger root (ginger has a very strong taste and if you are not used to it, I suggest adding a little at a time)
- Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (1 used 1/4 cup. If you do not like cilantro, parsley would work well)
- Sprig of fresh mint finely chopped, (since I have it in my garden, I add mint to everything in the summer)
- Fresh chives, finely chopped (the same as the mint)
Normally, when I make dressing, I use my Vitamix blender. However, for this dressing, I wanted a chunkier consistency so I added all the ingredients into a pint-sized mason jar, put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I added 4 Tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of the two Mason jars and divided the rest between the other salads.
PRINTABLE RECIPE:SPECTRUM SALAD WITH CHILI LIME DRESSING by producewithamy
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I did. I am going to make different varieties this summer and I think it will be great with different stone fruit (especially nectarines and peaches).
If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I love hearing from other health-minded individuals and the tweaks and additions that others make to fit personal tastes. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you!