Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂