I make this salad so often that it was almost an afterthought for the website. Given that this salad graces our dinner table at least 4 nights a week, I felt compelled to share it with you. It is the embodiment of the GalaKitchen food philosophy in one bowl. Most importantly, it’s a snap to prepare, easy to assemble and oh so tasty and satisfying. No longer are salads defined by a handful of something green, a smattering of carrots and white, and creamy, lipid-laden dressing out of a bottle. No, you’ve now just entered the world of superfood salad bowls. Piled high with mixed greens, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, beets, winter squash, avocados and seeds this salad will keep you going all day long. These bowls are a complete meal for lunch or dinner.
So, I humbly offer…. Our all-time favorite everyday super-food, super-tasty, super-easy salad recipe. Looking at the pictures you may be intimidated by how many ingredients there seem to be. But let me tell you that on a typical weeknight I throw this salad together in about 3 minutes flat. While Vishal and the kids usually follow with a main, there are nights that I will eat a huge entree sized portion of this as my entire meal.
Yield: 2 entree sized servings or 6 appetizer sized servings
6 cups mixed greens, baby kale or baby spinach, or our favorite, mixed greens with herbs
1 large cucumber, skins removed, seeds removed, sliced
2 carrots, cleaned and chopped
2 red or golden beets, roasted, skins removed, cubed
2 cups grape tomatoes, whole or halved
1/4 cup sliced onions (optional)
1/4 cup red or orange pepper, diced (optional)
2 cups butternut or acorn squash, roasted and cut into cubes
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1/8 cup shelled hemp seeds
For the dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Tips and tricks to make this salad super easy to make and super delicious to eat:
Dressing: Whisk all the ingredients of this dressing together. This dressing will store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week. The oil will congeal in the refrigerator and the texture will become more clumpy. To smooth it out, re-whisk in a bowl before dressing the salad.
For a non-oil based dressing I use the Whole Foods brand no-oil balsamic dressing. You will find it in the refrigerated section. I probably use this dressing the most but Vishal prefers the homemade version.
Greens: Mixed greens and baby spinach is easy to buy in pre-washed (triple-washed) containers. I always keep at least one type of salad green mix in the refrigerator. Change up the greens you buy and this salad will taste a little different every time.
Carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies: Cucumber and carrots are always stocked in our refrigerator. They are our kids favorite raw vegetables so we make sure to always keep them around. I buy baby carrots so they are already pre-cleaned and ready to chop. My kids eat the cucumbers de-seeded but feel free to slice them up any way you like. I like grape tomatoes because they don’t get mushy, the kids can pop them into their mouths, and they can be added to the salad without any prep. Add any other vegetables that you like, on occasion I add bell peppers, sliced onions, radishes, jicama, or anything else that happens to be in the house.
Cutting up the veggies ahead of time (like over the weekend) and storing them in air-tight containers is easy to do. It only takes about 5 minutes, and this way when you get home it’s easy to just throw this salad together any night of the week.
Beets: To easily roast the beets I cut off the stems, rinse them, and wrap them in foil. Then place them in the oven on 400deg F for one hour. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. The skin then peels off easily. I cut them into chunks and then store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They are good for about a week.
Squash: You can use any type of thick skin squash you like. My favorites are butternut and acorn. To roast them, I slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and place them upside down (no oil required) in a baking dish. I then place them in the oven on 400 deg F for 45 minutes (acorn) to 1 hour (butternut). Check to see if they are done by making sure a butter knife inserts easily. Remove them from the oven and let them cool so they are easy to handle. Then scoop out the squash (this should be very easy) and cut into cubes. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Avocados: It can seem like avocados go from underripe to overripe in a matter of minutes! But it’s really easy to make sure the avocado is just right when it’s time to eat them. If your avocados are underripe leave them on the counter in a fruit bowl. Every morning, check on them; push down softly on the skin. It should be soft to the touch (able to make a little thumbprint) but not too soft, with a darkened outer shell. Once your avocado reaches this consistency, immediately move it to the refrigerator. It stops the ripening process and you can eat the avocado anytime within the next several days. Avocados are the key to this salad. The avocado and seeds are what make this salad amazing, and so satisfying!
Here is another tip when buying avocados: Before you commit to a specific avocado, look for all the external signs of ripe-but-not-rotten. With a Hass avocado (the variety we tend to get on the West coast), the skin should be very dark green-to-black and bumpy. The fruit should feel heavy and firm, with no obvious smushy parts or flat areas… Now here’s the trick. Once you’ve got a good candidate, take a sneak-peak at what’s inside. Discreetly flick the dry stem off the fruit. If you see a brown patch under the stem, put that avocado back. It will be gross inside. But, if the pit right under the stem is bright avocado yellow-green, you have a winner! Your avocado will be great.
Seeds: I always, always, always have pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and shelled hemp seeds in my pantry. I like adding these to salads (over nuts) because they are lighter on the digestive system, extremely nutritious, and add a really nice crunch. They complement the smooth silky texture and taste of the avocado and squash well, and round out this salad beautifully.
Once a staple ingredient amongst ancient civilizations, hemp seeds have achieved great longevity due to their ability to nourish and fuel in their natural state. The nutritional wonder seed is derived from the same hemp plant renounced for it’s durable fiber. Each serving provides a unique balance of vitamins and minerals including proteins (2 tbs contains 10 grams of protein), fibers, omegas and essential amino acids, making it an ideal addition to your daily salad.