Guess what, the sun is popping out and I think It might stay and hang out for a while today, yay! I was beginning to forget what it looked like.
I’ve posted a few healthy recipes lately but the sight of the sun made me realize it’s been mostly things that aren’t going to be overly helpful for those of you up north trying to stay beach ready. Hey, cut me some slack, it’s winter here so that isn’t really on my mind. Anyway, I thought I’d try to lighten things up a bit today. It’s all about balance, right? (p.s. There will be plenty of diet-wrecking recipes to come if salads aren’t you’re thing.)
So what do think of when you hear the word salad, because it seems to be a very broad term with many different interpretations, especially here. Salads are actually kind of a joke here in Chile. Not that there aren’t exceptions, but in general if you order a salad at a restaurant you are going to be disappointed with a large bowl of lettuce and a few dots of something to garnish, and don’t even get me started on the dressings, or the lack thereof I should say. The only choices you’ll get are oil and balsamic, not even kidding. I love oil and balsamic but I also love variety. I think it boils down to the fact that most Chileans consider salads only a side dish type of thing. You won’t find any of those North American steakhouse-style salads that are basically a pile of meat, cheese, and croutons smothered in ranch.
My view of a perfect salad is somewhere in between the two. I think every salad needs to have plenty of flavors and some kind of awesome dressing to finish it off, either creamy or sweet. It also should be light enough to be a side dish on it’s own, or loaded enough that you could add some protein and make it a meal. Of course, that applies only to lettuce based salads, I’m not talking about pasta, egg, or fruit salad. Those are all completely different animals.
However, since I have the beach on my mind I thought I’d go a little on the lighter side and skip the really carby toppings in favor of fresh fruit and healthy fat. One of my favorite flavors of summer is fresh basil and I happened to get a bunch of it the other day. Since it pairs so well with tomatoes and mozzarella it seemed only fitting to make a caprese salad and my favorite way to top that is with a balsamic reduction that is super easy.
This salad fits the criteria of being perfect as a side, but you can add some grilled chicken or fish and it becomes a delicious no-heat lunch or dinner on a really hot day. It can also go vegan if you want to trade out the cheese for garbanzos or something and for strict vegans use agave instead of honey. Stay tuned for something much terribly evil tomorrow!
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 cups loosely packed red leaf lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
- 1 medium avocado, sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- For the reduction, combine honey and balsamic in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened, then remove from heat and cool.
- Combine ingredients for salad in a large bowl and toss together gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top salad immediately before serving or serve per individual.