Easter Evolution and the Pollan Family Salad

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One of my favorite Easter activities is egg dying.  So that will certainly happen.  And although I like to do the natural dyes (see past blog for recipes and photo on right), we’ll likely do some not so natural too (photo on left).  This is an area as my kids get older that they like to experience both the organic, healthy way and the colorful less eco friendly way as well.  I figure the majority of our days we practice an eco friendly lifestyle of eating mostly healthy organic foods, reducing our meat intake, limiting processed foods and recycling, but sometimes the holidays have to have some leeway.  The chemical dyes are one way I’m giving in.

 

My other give in is a Cadbury egg (my teeth ache just thinking about it).  My son is 11 and has never had one and is curious (ok, begging) to try one.  So in his Easter basket of rabbit glasses, a book, recycle “grass” and sugar free jelly beans will also be his surprise egg.  My daughter’s basket will also include real eggs from the chicken’s down the street.  Since she’s discovered the egg box in our neighborhood that shares eggs from adopted chickens, she’s enamored (and only wants to eat those – not store bought).

 

I’m not hosting Easter this year but were going to spend the afternoon with family.  There will be a festive egg hunt, followed by early supper.  It’s all ages (from 1 – 70+) so there’s lots of land mines when planning dinner.  I’ve been asked to bring a salad.  At first I was thinking it should be “special” and “holiday worthy” but then I came across this lovely and simple one from Michael Pollan, which is sure to please all diets and tastes (I’ll likely serve my cheese and nuts on the side).  I figure if it’s good enough for his family, it’s good for mine too.  (Although I still may add some edible flowers).

pollansalad

Pollan Signature Salad
6 servings

We serve this salad at all our large family gatherings. Light, crisp, both vinegary and sweet, our signature salad is a delicious addition to any meal.

For the dressing:
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar, champagne vinegar, or sherry vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

5 to 7 ounces mesclun or mixed baby greens
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
½ Bosc pear (cut lengthwise), cored, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

For the dressing: In a glass jar with a lid or in a small mixing bowl, combine the vinegars, mustard, grapeseed oil, olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Shake the jar vigorously or whisk in the bowl to emulsify.

For the salad: Place the mesclun in a large salad bowl. Pour on half the dressing and toss the greens to coat. Add the walnuts, pear, and more dressing to taste (taking care not to overdress) and toss again. Top with the Parmesan cheese shavings and serve.

Food for thought: Walnuts are the healthiest tree nuts around—they have close to twice as much antioxidants as other nuts! What’s more, they are an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which is great news for people who don’t eat heart-healthy fish.

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Hippity Hoppity Organic Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes (plus Egg and Olive Spread Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

I just finished my St. Pat’s left-overs and now it’s time for dying Easter Eggs. Of course there are a zillion egg dyes at the supermaket and high end cooking stores to make the most picture perfect eggs. But how about some simple do-it-yourself natural colors?

Here are some suggestions for cooking hard boiled eggs and decorating them with your children — with or without dyes. Be sure to store dyed hard cooked eggs in the refrigerator if you want to eat them. Also, here’s a favorite yummy stuffing/spread to use all the eggs.

A Good Egg – Organic Hardboiled Eggs

Eggs have been served since ancient times because they symbolize spring and rebirth. During March and April they are served at a Seder meal as well as dyed and decorated for Easter traditions. This is also the only accurate way to separate an egg for a baby that cannot have whites (recommended for those under 1 year old). Here’s a way to insure the perfect hard boiled egg.

6 large cage free, organic eggs

Place eggs in a pot with lid. Add enough water to cover eggs. Put pot on stove over medium-high heat. When water starts a rolling boil, cover pan and turn off heat. Leave pot on burner, covered for 15 minutes.

Drain water and rinse eggs under cold running water. Tap the egg all over to break shell. Egg shells peel easiest from the rounder end (where there is air space). Eggs should have bright yellow centers. If gray or green color appears, then the eggs have been overcooked.

Unpeeled eggs keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you’re dying eggs and then plan to eat them later, they must be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature in a basket.

Egg Decorating Tips: Dying

Here are some fun tips for decorating eggs with children…

1. Start by layering a table with newspapers to mop up any spills or drips.

2. Use empty egg cartons as drying racks for the eggs once dyed.

3. Keep paper towels handy to blot any dye that collects under eggs.

4. Use individual containers for each color. I find ramekins to work well. Container should be sturdy enough to hold liquid and egg, and allow for fingers or spoons to lift eggs in and out. Nothing too tall or plastic that can tip. Be sure to rinse containers of dyes so there are no stains.

5. Use plastic utensils or wooden sticks to stir each color. This makes clean-up a breeze, and there’s no risk of stained utensils.

6. Let children create their own masterpieces, even if all the eggs come out blue. Be patient. If you do not want to use the prepackaged dyes and colors you can make your own natural dyes by boiling common ingredients in water with a tablespoon of vinegar until desired shade is reached. Be sure to strain to remove solids.

Here are the color options and what to add to the water:

Yellow – tumeric or yellow onion skins
Orange – make yellow and add beet juice
Pink – cranberry juice concentrate
Blue – grape juice concentrate, red cabbage
Red – beets, paprika
Green – spinach or kale

Egg Decorating Tips: Other Options

Some children are too small or you may not be up to the challenge or mess of working with dyes. Other ideas include:

Stickers – your child’s favorite stickers can transform an ordinary egg without mess or stained fingers

Collage – using a glue stick or craft glue, how about adding sequins, beads, ribbons, feathers or anything else your child can dream up

Drawing/Coloring – bring out the crayons, markers and pens for children to draw and color on eggs (warn them not to push too hard)

Happy Days Organic Egg and Olive Spread
(from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

Run out of ideas for all those hard boiled eggs after Easter? Many adults think of egg salad and olive spread as comforting foods from their childhood. This recipe combines the best of both. The lemon and yogurt give this spread a new fresh taste and healthy alternative to the standard mayonnaise flavor, which many children do not like. As an alternative to the usual sandwich bread, try wrapping up in lettuce or stuff in pita bread with spinach leaves.

2 hard cooked, cage-free organic eggs

1/3 cup pitted black olives (about 10 whole), chopped

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon plain organic whole milk yogurt

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Chop eggs finely using an egg slicer or knife. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.

Makes 15 (2 Tablespoon servings)
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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