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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Springtastic Salad

It's gray today. It's hot, and the air is sticky, and thunder keeps rolling through but there's no rain. It's one of those days that just makes you want to sit in the air conditioning and not move much.

The perfect cure for the hot-sticky blues is something fresh, bright, and clean. Something sweet and tangy and fabulous. Something just loaded to the brim with all kinds of goodness that comes from the earth.

So on days like these, a salad just fits the bill.

But we can't have just any ol' salad, now can we? Nope. That just won't do. A salad should have texure, and not just texture but contrast! Hot and cold, sweet and spicy, creamy and crunchy, ooh baby, I'm gettin' all shivery. Sounds like one hell of a salad, yeah? Yeah!

I feel a bit silly writing out an actual recipe for a salad, so is it okay if we just take a walk-through? There's no need to stand on formality, we're all friends here.

First let's start with the greens and the as-is stuff. Things that don't need any modification.
I used living lettuce leaves (that cool lettuce that comes with the roots still attached? Yeah, that. It was on sale this week), fresh blackberries, cherry tomatoes, and avocado slices. I also sprinkled pinches of Mediterranean herbed goat cheese across all that loveliness.

I prepped the sweet potato by poking some holes in it, wrapping it in a wet paper towel, and mirowaving for 8 minutes. It's too hot for ovens. When it was nice and tender, I sliced it up and threw it in a skillet with just a dab of oil and sauteed the pieces until crispy and browned on each side. Throw those on the salad.

Trim the ends of a handful of asparagus spears. You want asparagus that is brightly colored, firm, and have tightly closed tips. In that same skillet, toss the asparagus with a little garlic pepper and olive oil, and sautee lightly until tender, about 5 minutes. Those go on the salad, too.

Now, the dressing! Mmm, dressing.

I admit, I stood over this pot of dressing and ate it like dip, using a handful of asparagus as my "spoon".

I brought 1/3 cup mango juice to rolling boil in a small saucepan. I used Naked juice, but you can use whatever you fancy. You'll want to let the juice reduce down at a rolling boil until you're left with about half of the original amount. Next, slice a pink or red grapefruit in half. Squeeze the juice of one half into the mango reduction, along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Stir well and remove from heat.

Peel and separate the other half of the grapefruit into segments. Guess where those go? Yep, on the salad!

Now, drizzle your warm mango-grapefruit dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

Could you possibly ask for anything more decadent and luscious? No way. Enjoy, and happy eating!

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