Super Salads

Lemony Lentil and Quinoa Salad

Lemony Lentil and Quinoa Salad

Visual appeal is a vital though often ignored aspect of good digestion, as a mouthwatering response to the food on your plate prompts greater production of saliva, which helps break down food from the moment it hits your tongue. When I’m teaching, I like to use quinoa to underscore the importance of appearances. After an unenthusiastic glance at a bowl of cooked plain quinoa, the response is usually “Doesn’t look like much. Kinda tan.” Then we go to work on it, studding the quinoa with tiny green lentils and a blast of color from cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, and mint that gets people excited about this dish. It looks like an edible painting by the time we’re done. Now that’s my idea of art. 

My Favorite Salad with Bright Mediterranean Vinaigrette

My Favorite Salad with Bright Mediterranean Vinaigrette

I love this salad. I dream about this salad. It’s a variation on fattoush, a fabulously named Mediterranean salad. This is the freshest, cleanest salad I can imagine. It’s like Nautilus for the taste buds: the sweetness of fresh tomatoes, a starburst of fresh mint and parsley, creamy cheese, salty olives, crispy pita chips, and crunchy lettuce . . . like I said, it’s a workout for the palate. Like most workouts, you’ll feel wonderful after you eat it.

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad

This salad was inspired by those gorgeous, colorful Bollywood flicks that offer a feast of singing, dancing, and romance. I love Indian food, as it was my first real introduction to all things curry. Only much later did I learn that turmeric, a typical curry spice that gives curries a yellow tint, has tremendous antitumor and anti-inflammatory properties. And to think, I loved it just for its taste! Here, I was hankering for a swirl of flavors with an Indian feel. The chicken makes a great starting point because it’s full of protein and amenable to all sorts of accessorizing. In this case, the apple and raisins play delightfully off the curry spices.

Watercress, Purple Cabbage, and Edamame Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Watercress, Purple Cabbage, and Edamame Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Cooking sometimes defies math—or, as we’re fond of saying around my house, the whole of a dish is often greater than the sum of the parts. Edamame, watercress, cabbage: in themselves, they’re a tad less than exciting. Yet when you combine them and add zinc-filled sesame seeds and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, suddenly you have a salad that’s clean, green, and lean. I love it with fish (especially salmon), but it also works well on its own, notably on those days when your body and mind are yearning for culinary refreshment. This would be a great accompaniment to Wild Salmon Kebabs with Asian Pesto.