Summertime Meal Solution: Bagged Salads
Our hectic schedules can often conflict with our desire to eat healthier foods. Sometimes even the thought of putting together a simple salad can seem daunting. But with the help of bagged salad greens, you can create summertime meals in minutes.
Supermarkets everywhere now offer a wide variety of ready-to-use organic lettuces and other greens from baby spinach, to mixed field greens, to crunchy romaine. Although these greens come “pre-washed,” I like to take an extra minute and rinse and dry them in my salad spinner before tossing in a bowl. If you use bottled dressings, your salad is ready in a flash. Whether enjoyed as simple green salads or as a base for hearty main dish meals such as the recipes below for Tuscan Bread Salad and Chopped Vegetable Salad with Baked Tofu, bagged greens can help make salads the ultimate healthy fast food.
Chopped Vegetable Salad with Baked Tofu
This is a substantial salad with lots of goodies that is attractive, delicious, and easy to assemble. The dressing is ideal for virtually any green salad so consider making extra to keep some on hand. Commercially prepared baked tofu is widely available in natural food stores and larger supermarkets. Recipe adapted from Carb-Conscious Vegetarian by Robin Robertson © 2005, Rodale.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced scallions
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bag organic salad greens
- 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and chopped
- 6 radishes, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 ripe tomato, chopped
- 8 ounces baked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick cubes
In a food processor, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, parsley, garlic, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Place the lettuce in a serving bowl. Add the cucumber, radishes, bell pepper, celery, artichoke hearts, tomato, and tofu. Drizzle on the reserved dressing and toss to combine.
Tuscan Bread Salad
Served over bagged salad greens, this is a filling and delicious salad that’s also quick and easy to prepare. The bread absorbs the surrounding flavors and becomes the focal point of the dish. Recipe adapted from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson © 2003, Harvard Common Press.
- 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- 1 shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ripe grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, (drained and rinsed if canned)
- 1/2 cup brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
- 1 bag organic salad greens
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a blender, combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, sugar, oregano, and salt, and blend until the shallot and garlic are pureed. Stream in the olive oil and add pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, chickpeas, olives, and parsley with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving over salad greens.