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March Madness — show me some greens

Published 6:07pm Saturday, March 16, 2013

What is in season and goes great with your March Madness pizza gatherings? Spring greens.

Spring is the season for edible greens like collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, arugula, mustard greens and many more.

Greens are a gold mine of nutrients, including vitamins A and K, folic acid, magnesium, antioxidants and phytonutrients that may provide protection against cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis and also promote vision health.

When selecting greens, look for brightly colored, green and crisp leaves.  Yellow leaves may indicate aging leaves with an unpleasant flavor. For convenience, grab a bag of pre-washed, pre-cut greens.

You can often find pre-cut kale and chard at your local Hy-Vee produce department.  When you are preparing your salad with greens, add grilled chicken or fish, a handful of walnuts, additional vegetables to add a rainbow of color and fresh berries to complete the meal. Drizzle with your own homemade vinaigrette.

How to make your own vinaigrette:

• Vinaigrettes are a combination of oil and an acidic liquid, like vinegar, citrus juice or wine, with herbs and spices for flavor.

• Often they include an emulsifier (an ingredient that combines substances that normally do not mix) such as mustard, to help prevent the oil and acid from separating.

• The traditional ratio is 3 to 4 parts oil to 1 part vinegar — for example: 3/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup vinegar or citrus juice — which makes the mixture very high in calories from the oil.

• In this recipe, I increased the amount of acidic liquid and also diluted it with a few tablespoons of water to offset some of the calories from the oil.  I also want it to have enough body (viscosity or thickness) so it is not too watery.  The touch of honey or light agave nectar also produces a little thicker consistency to help the dressing cling to the salad.

• Use extra virgin olive oil (purest and most intensely flavored), assorted vinegars (balsamic, red wine, rice wine), citrus juice (fresh-squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice), or wine (our certified wine specialist recommends a pinot grigio or a viognier)

• Try different herb and spice blends for a variety of delicious flavors:  Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, various Mrs. Dash blends or other herbs and spices of your choice.

•Recommended ratio – You need about one tablespoon vinaigrette for 2 cups salad greens.  Remember to add the vinaigrette gradually, toss and taste.  You can always add more dressing if you like.

Make-your-own vinaigrette

All you need

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

• 1/2 cup acidic liquid (vinegar, citrus juice or wine)

• 2 tablespoons water

• 1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 teaspoon honey or clear agave nectar, optional

• 2 teaspoons dried herbs

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• Freshly ground pepper, to taste

All you do

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.


• Add 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard as an emulsifier if desired.

• Try assorted herbs and spices for a variety of tasty flavors. Some delicious ideas include oregano, rosemary, parsley, Italian blends, lemon pepper, etc.

• Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.



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