This post has been compensated by Aunt Nellie’s. All opinions are my own. Thank you to the readers and brands that support The Petite Professional!
Perhaps the name of this recipe and title of this post is overly optimistic. From where I stand in Austin, the end of summer doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight, which means my food fantasies are driven by the need to stay cool.
This salad is no different. It’s made up of a collection of colorful, summery, light ingredients that are still hearty enough to satisfy. Said heartiness of the ingredients also means that it’s the perfect salad to make ahead of time, whether you’re eating it throughout the week at work or school, or packing it up to bring along for a picnic… Although who in their right mind would want to have a picnic in this 100+ degree surface of the sun weather? Not this indoorsy gal.
Aside from the seasonal inspiration that set this recipe into motion, I also thought a lot about the mix of textures, flavors, and nutrients offered by each ingredient. We recently did a major salad menu overhaul at work and our Executive Chefs totally inspired by their process. Let me explain.
greens: Because I wanted this to be a make ahead meal, I knew I couldn’t mess with any wimpy mixed greens or baby spinach. I needed to bring in the big guns: Trader Joe’s pre-washed, pre-chopped Tuscan Kale and Cruciferous Crunch (kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, red cabbage). Because these are all super firm greens, they hold up really well to a few days in the fridge. And I wouldn’t be a good RD if I neglected to mention all the glorious vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber these leaves are packin’.
grains: For me, taking salad from a side dish to a meal usually means adding some kind of carb component, whether it’s roasted sweet potatoes, beans, or grains. This salad was begging for barley. I love barley’s pearl shape, chewy texture, and fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in your GI tract and can help lower cholesterol. Wins all around.
calimyrna figs: There is just nothing prettier than a sliced fig atop a bowl of greens. Figs are sweeter later in the summer, offering a perfect balance to the rest of the savory, bitter salad components.
radish: Crispy, crunchy, and peppery. I thinly sliced the reddish-purple veg to keep it from overpowering anything else. Full of riboflavin, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, and… Duh, fiber.
chia beet dressing: With all of the savory and peppery action going on in the salad, I knew I wanted something sweet to complement it. Enter beets. Nothing contrasts a green salad better than a bright and beautiful, pinkish-reddish-purple beet. But tossing on some chopped or sliced beets was just too obvious. Instead, I opted to blend them up into a gem-toned dressing. Enter: Aunt Nellie’s Sliced Beets. These are jarred just hours after being picked, so they maintain the beets’ earthy, sweet flavor and are super easy to deal with. If you’ve ever worked with beets before, you know they can be a beetch (ha, sorry, couldn’t leave that one on the table), leaving your fingers magenta-stained for days. I simply fished some sliced beets out of the jar with a fork and moved on with my life and this dressing. Its completed with just a few simple additions– lemon juice, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and chia seeds to thicken.
Before you run to the grocery to grab your ingredients, enter to win your own jar of Aunt Nellie’s Sliced Beets AND a $500 VISA gift card!