An Island Approach to Good, Green Salad

If you pop “I hate salad” into Google, guess how many results you get. 1 million? 10 million? Try 33,600,000. Ouch.

Now, the internet being a rather nebulous place, a good number of those 33 million results probably have nothing to do with hating salad, or even to do with salad in general. But even still. Salad has a lot of enemies. And understandably so. Why put the effort into preparing a laborious, unremarkable side dish in the name of nutrition when you could cook up a tastier veggie in half the time? Like a lot of people, I am a salad snubber. 

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But this spring, while I was in Prince Edward Island, I had some great salads. Fresh vegetables so well-composed that PEI should, I think, be considered a culinary destination not just for seafood and potatoes, but also for its salads.  

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They weren’t fancy – one was made from a bunch of common garden veggies, and one was made simply from greens and cheese. But they were put together with thought and care, using produce that was in season and seemingly prepared to order, dressed lightly just before serving with homemade vinaigrettes that were flavourful, but not overwhelmingly so.  

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I think they’ve figured it out, the folks on PEI. Salads shouldn’t be things we throw together simply to make our meals healthier. When given the same care as any other dish that’s meant to be tasty in its own right, salads can be worth savouring. Choose your veggies (or fruits!) with freshness, flavour and texture in mind, coat them just lightly with a complementary dressing, and add any herbs, cheeses or nuts that’ll help make them shine. Salad complete, deliciousness ensured.

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PEI-style Green Salad with Dijon & Maple Syrup Vinaigrette 
Inspired by the salad at this tasty Island cafe
Makes 4 side-servings (it’s best made day of, so scale it back as need be!)

Note: The salad ingredient quantities are rough estimates, given that the size of your veggies will likely be slightly different from mine. Feel free to adjust the ingredients up or down slightly depending on your tastes. For an easy meal, add an egg – poached, fried or boiled – on a hefty slice of buttered toast. 

Dressing Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste 

To make the dressing: Dump all of your ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Secure the lid and shake the jar until the ingredients have emulsified.  Let the dressing sit at room temperature for a few hours to let the flavours meld. Extra dressing can be stored in the fridge and brought back to room temperature by placing the jar in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. 

Salad Ingredients
1 head of leafy green lettuce
1/2 a red pepper
1 large carrot
1 small zucchini
1 green onion
16 cherry tomatoes (I forgot mine, oops!)
8 small radishes

To make the salad: Prep your veggies no more than an hour before you want to serve your salad. Cut your lettuce into bite-sized pieces, slice the red pepper into thin strips, peel and coarsely grate your carrot, julienne your zucchini into thin, 2-inch strips, thinly slice your green onions, halve your cherry tomatoes and quarter your radishes.

Set aside a bit of each type of veggie, then pop the remaining veggies in a large bowl. Add half the dressing to the bowl and toss the salad well. Give the salad a taste and add more dressing as needed. Top the salad with the reserved veggies and drizzle a bit more dressing overtop. Sprinkle the finished salad with just a pinch of flaky salt. Serve immediately! 

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