Easter Evolution and the Pollan Family Salad






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).


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.


200 Easy Mexican Recipes – Cookbook Review for Cinco de Mayo


Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I received 200 Easy Mexican Recipes: Authentic Recipes From Burritos to Enchiladas by Kelly Cleary Coffeen just in time.  It’s full of a variety of mexican favorites I’m sure we’ll be making, as Mexican food is very popular at my house.  I love how with a few key ingredients you can make a wide array of Mexican favorites and it easy for me to adapt these recipes to my family’s tastes and my daughter’s vegetarian needs.

I decided to make the Chopped Mexican Salad (recipe below) and while I was glad I did, the name didn’t fit the preparation.  I was expecting a salad of chopped items all mixed together.  However the recipe calls to lay out the lettuce and layer veggies and beans on top – which I’m sure is a beautiful presentation.  Since it was a “chopped” salad I chopped the lettuce and and mixed it together.  I’m sure it’s tasty either way, but I was going for speed and ease.  In order to make it more hearty I added some grilled shrimp.   I think next I’ll try the making the homemade tortillas with my kids. Stay tuned….


Pros: Lots of easy recipes for a variety of tasty, vibrant mexican classics.  Useful recipe tips of substitutions and additions to alter recipes.  Good intro of Mexican cooking techniques, equipment, ingredients and spices.

Cons: If you like colorful photos you’ll wish there were more.  Only about a dozen.  Recipe instructions may differ from others.

Chopped Mexican Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Fresh goodness and color are at the heart of this chopped salad.  A citrus marinade refreshed these chopped vegetables.  This is a wonderful vegetarian meal but can be topped with chicken or steak as well.


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons honey


6 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 can black or pinto beans rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped, peeled jicama

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 yellow or red pepper, seeded cored and diced

2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced

1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (you could substitute feta or goat)


To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, garlic and honey.

Spread lettuce evenly across a large serving platter.  Arrange beans, jicama, corn , bell peppers, and avocado sie by side on top of lettuce. Garnish with cheese. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least one hour before serving.

Drizzle with dressing before serving.






Someone’s in the Salad…

This is for all those who don’t wash their produce….

My son’s school has an amazing garden with fruit trees, herbs, veggies, and even chickens.  Last week my son’s class was able to pick and bring home a bag of assorted greens.  When we got home we put the bag in the fridge.  I was quite surprised that evening, when I opened the bag to wash the lettuces and found a few hitchhikers…slugs and snails.  I thought the kids would be bothered and not eat the lettuce, but I was wrong.  We relocated the critters and washed (and washed again) the leaves to look for any other visitors.  Finally we spun it in the salad spinner.  Even in the spinner we saw one last tiny slug.

Note the round object on inside of bag
escargot anyone?

My son was proud of his lettuce and we enjoyed a tasty salad together.

Now of course if you buy your lettuce at the supermarket, it is unlikley you’ll have slugs and snails.  However it is still possible to have their feces.  So remember to wash and spin no matter if your lettuce comes right from the garden, picked at the farmer’s market or purcahsed at the grocery store.  (Yes, even that bagged salad should be washed)


Girls and Salads

Ellery and her salad

The popular opinion and picture of girls/women eating salads seems to start young.  My daughter loves to make salads.  I’ve shared some of her arrangements with you, complete with  flowers and herbs, no less.  However now my four year old wants to yield a knife and cut the ingredients for her salads.  Her knife is a dull child’s knife.  But still the first few times are a bit stressful for me.  I try to bite my tongue as I watch her little fingers get too close.  Or she misses the veggie and it goes rolling away and she tries to stab at it. 

I was surprised that this is not just my daughter who is interested in salads.  While at my daughter’s gym/dance class I overheard another mom talk about her daughter’s love as sous chef and that she makes her own dressing.  Well, we hadn’t tried that.  Of course that night after my daughter chopped (hacked) way too many cucumbers and carrots for a salad that looked like it could feed 10, I suggested she make the dressing.  Her eyes lit up as I got out the ingredients.  I immediately thought of a glass jelly jar (so easy to clean out pasta and condiment jars for special collections and little things kids treasure) instead of my usual glass measuring cup, for her to use as a dressing bottle.  That way she could shake the jar to combine the oil and vinegar, by herself, without mess.  It immediately too me back to cooking with my mom in the 70’s and the Good Seasons dressing packets that you could even buy with a glass dressing cruet.  I forgot all about those.  What ever happened to that?  Anyways my daughter was having such fun, my son asked for a turn shaking the dressing too.

Dressing fixings and jar
I had to look it up. Still sold. $6.99 on Amazon.com


Jonas shakes things up

Last night we went to some friends for dinner.  Their 8 year old daughter went to the fridge and told her mom “I’m making a salad”.  My daughter smiled and played sous chef to her big girl friend, as they made a lovely spinach salad with cucumber, tomatoes, and Parmesan.  Of course they made too much, but everyone was proud of the girls, even the brothers (who had at least a bite).


Potluck Salads (Organic Recipes)

From Lisa Barnes

It’s potluck time at my kids’ school.  You may remember (or you can read here) my blog (rant) from last year regarding everyone who brings take-out pizza to the school potluck.  Although after now attending a few of these school functions I realize the other popular way out is with dessert.  Who doesn’t like to make and eat cookies and cupcakes?  Plus think how popular your child will be with his friends.

I feel like I shouldn’t take up the dessert choice and the main dishes have improved (a great enchilada and chicken at the last one).  So now I’m bringing salads. Not a typical lettuce salad, but something unique.  Even though I know unique may not be eaten (or tried) by everyone.  Here are two that are easy, healthy, tasty and very colorful.

Organic Confetti Slaw

Here the produce takes center stage with a bright, vitamin-rich mix of colors and flavors that will entice children and adults alike. Cutting julliened pieces or shredding fruits and vegetables with a box grater is a great way to add extra vegetables into dishes such as quesadillas and pasta sauces.

Makes 5 (1-cup) servings

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed organic orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large organic zucchini, julienned
1 medium organic red or orange bell pepper, juliened
1 small organic Fuji apple, peeled and juliened
1 cup juliened jicama
1 cup shredded organic purple cabbage

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, apple, jicama and cabbage, and toss together to combine.

Monica’s Organic Edamame Salad

My friend Monica brought our family a lovely dinner after I came home from the hospital when my daughter was born. The best part was this yummy and beautiful salad. It quickly became a family favorite. Whenever I make it my son Jonas asks, “Did Monica make this for us?” This is a very versatile and quick dish because you can use many prepackaged convenience items (such as slivered almonds), make use of left-over cooked rice, or even find pre-cooked rice in your store. It can be made ahead for a potluck picnic or school event.

Makes 10 (1-cup) servings

1 1/2 cups cooked organic brown rice (left over or pre-packaged)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen organic white corn, thawed
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or frozen organic edamame, (if frozen, cooked according to package directions)
1/2 cup chopped organic celery
1/3 cup organic golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 4)
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves


3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
5 tablespoons expeller-pressed organic canola oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Combine rice, corn, edamame, celery, raisins, onions and basil in a large bowl.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing over salad and toss with a spoon until everything is coated. Serve almond pieces on the side (in case of allergies) to sprinkle on top.

Picky, Picky! For a choosey eater, separate out items such as raisins and edamame that make great snacks on their own, without the fight over “mixing it all together” or getting “dressing on everything.”
See also Lisa’s Freeze Please! (do your kids hate eating veggies?)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Soybeans © Norman Chan | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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Calistoga Get-Away (with Wild Shrimp and Organic Cabbage Salad Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

My husband took me to Calistoga in the Napa Valley for a wonderful birthday present.  He surprised me and made all the plans and reservations.  And thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, we got to spend the weekend without the kids.  Of course we love them, but nice to have couple time too.

In addition to relaxing by the pool and bike riding through the vineyards, we of course had some really great wine and food.  While some were fancier and more creative, my favorite dish was from the SolBar Restaraunt at the green resort, Solage.  In fact we shared it as an appetizer for dinner one night, and I had it again for lunch the following day.  What was it?  The best shrimp summer roll I’ve ever had.  I was so excited by the flavors and textures I wanted to recreate something similar at home.  I skipped the rice noodle wrap and made the dish into a salad.  This is great for a fresh, simple, summer meal.

Note:  Talk about a coincidence.  The day we returned from our weekend there was a review of the SolBar in the Sunday Chronicle.  (By the way in case anyone is asking, I would’ve given another star in each category.)

Wild Shrimp and Organic Cabbage Salad Recipe

(4 – 6  servings)

For a heartier meal and combination of crunchy and soft textures, add cooked and cooled rice noodles to the mix.

1 pound medium cooked wild shrimp, tails and shell removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablspoons Asian fish sauce
Finely grated zest and juice of organic lime
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
4 green onions, minced
1/2 small purple cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 6 cups)
2 organic carrots, julienned
1 organic zucchini, julienned
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

In a small bowl whisk olive oil with the fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice, brown sugar, curry paste and onions.

In a large bowl toss together cabbage, carrots, zucchini, and shrimp.

Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and stir until coated. Let stand about 20 minutes. Toss salad and top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
See also Greg’s Steamed Pacific Oysters With Sweet Organic Wine Butter
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, and Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Felinda | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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