Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sweet & Salty Green Salad with Papaya Seed Dressing

I've decided that I need to get more salad onto my winter menu. There really isn't much excuse, considering I can make lots of tasty ones, greens come to me all winter in my produce basket and they're awfully good for me. And so part of that is a new project of mine: Salad Saturdays. Every Saturday, I'm going to post something that will hopefully inspire readers to make something creative with those delicious and nutritious veggies.

Today's entry is a salad that I stumbled across when I was doing a detox. I was avoiding a lot of things: any animal products, gluten, soy, caffeine and refined sugar, among other things. This salad was one of the breaths of fresh air, with its amazingly crispy and fresh flavour and a hint of spicy sweetness. The dressing is definitely the winner in this salad.

I started with a foundation of crispy leaf lettuce from my produce basket. Mine came in a super cute browny-purple colour and reminded me it was an heirloom variety.
How cute is this purple head lettuce? It was super juicy and crispy and made a really nice bed for my salad.

Then I chopped up some cucumber and tomato for a few extra nutrients and lots of fresh veg flavour.
These super cute white cucumbers came from my local farmers' market and were a little bit spicy, almost like they had a hint of nutmeg in them. I strongly encourage you to try new varieties of organic veg--it's always an adventure!

Then I threw on some whole pecans and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese.
 Between pecans and cashew-based parmesan, you could say that this salad got a little nutty--in the best way possible.

Then all it needed was the papaya seed dressing and a fork. A fun fact: papaya seeds are an anti-parasitic and can help you get little bugs out of your system. So not only are they delicious (they have this spicy flavour not unlike a radish or mustard), they're also helping keep your body in tip-top shape.
This is an old salad dressing bottle that now holds my papaya seed dressing!

Be prepared: I went back for a second round of this salad.

Sweet & Salty Green Salad
Amounts can be adjusted as needed

Spinach leaves or leaf lettuce of your choice
Pecan halves
Vegan parmesan cheese
Papaya seed dressing (below)

Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and make a bed of them on serving plates. Add a few slices of tomato per plate, as well as some cucumber (amounts can be done to taste). Toss a handful of pecans on top of each serving and sprinkle with a little parmesan. Add dressing just before serving and enjoy!

Papaya Seed Dressing
Makes 3/4 cup (about 6 servings)

1 Tablespoon fresh papaya seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons agave or honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, process the papaya seeds, onion, vinegar, agave, salt and mustard until it's a purée. Add the olive oil in a very thin stream with the motor of the blender still running, and you will see that it will start to lighten and get thicker. Once you've incorporated all the oil, shut off the motor and serve over the salad. I use about 2 Tablespoons per serving for meal-sized salads. Enjoy!


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