There’s an unwritten rule of food blogging that says, “When you don’t have anything else to write about, blog your lunch.” Or at least that’s been my formerly unwritten rule, and it’s served me well because it’s led me to create some of my favorite lunches: Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens, Hot Skillet Salad, and Sea-sational Chickpea Salad, among others. I have a tendency to get more creative with my lunch when I suspect I may be sharing it with the world.
But I didn’t get creative this time. What you see before you is the salad that I have three or four times a week, and the only special thing I did to it was to use some beautiful lettuces I got from the farmers’ market instead of my usual romaine:
But even if it’s not super creative, I’m so addicted to this salad that I just had to share.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime after reading Eat to Live and deciding to eat Mega-Huge salads almost every day, I grew to like my salads spicy. I started with strictly spicy salads like Taco Salad, and somewhere along the way I fell in love with the combination of sweet and spicy. There’s something about biting into a crisp, sweet chunk of apple while my mouth is pulsating with heat that makes eating a salad more exciting than it has any right to be. My current favorite salad seasoning is Vulcan’s Fire Salt, a fiery, habanero-infused salt from The Spice House that I think tastes great on salads.
Don’t worry–I’m not going to make you buy some special seasoning just to make this salad. I’m sure heat lovers will love it with diced jalapenos or even Creole seasoning. And if you’re not a fan of the burning mouth, you can go mild and just omit the peppers and I won’t think any less of you. Or just try the dressing, which is fat-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, and preservative-free–so you can use it freely.
- 5 cups romaine lettuce, chopped (about 1 romaine heart)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup clover sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, or broccoli slaw
- 2 tablespoons Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Vinaigrette, see below (or other dressing)
- 1 small apple, chopped
- 1/2 cup chickpeas (or your choice of beans), cooked
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1/2 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely diced (add more or less to taste)*
- additional dressing, to taste
- Combine the lettuce, spinach, and sprouts or broccoli slaw in a large salad bowl and toss well with balsamic dressing. Top with the remaining ingredients and drizzle with a little more dressing, if desired.
Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Vinaigrette
You can make this dressing sweeter by using apple or white grape juice instead of water. Or add a little spiciness by mixing in a tablespoon of spicy mustard. Or add creaminess by blending in a teaspoon of tahini or a tablespoon of raw cashews.
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup golden raisins (see note below)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice or 1 tablespoon regular lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon mellow white miso or salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until liquified. Pour into a storage container and refrigerate until thickened slightly. Stir or shake well before using.
If you’re not using a high-powered blender such as the VitaMix, you may get smoother results by soaking the raisins in the water until they are plump and then blending.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 0 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Nutrition (per serving, about 2 tablespoons): 23 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 21mg sodium, 40.9mg potassium, 5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 3.5g sugar, <1g protein, 0.6 points.