Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Days & Salads...

Roquette Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado, Cucumber, Carrot, & Pepitas.

I often take for granted the food that I make for myself on a daily basis.  My schedule is both frenetic and dense, so my meals need to be 1) packed with nutrition, 2) delicious, and 3) quick and easy to make.  When I post pictures of the things I'm eating, they're often greeted with comments like, "That looks amazing - Wish I could make something like that!" or "If only you were my personal chef," which is funny to me because the food is literally 'thrown together' with little thought or planning.  But then it occurs to me that "easy for me" is not "easy for everyone."  And when I really think about it, "easy for me now" is not the same as "easy for me back then."

Let me explain.

Only a few years ago, I was pretty clueless in the kitchen.  Without a recipe to follow or someone to show me how to do something, I would be so fearful of trying something new that I simply wouldn't try at all.  This resulted in a lot of repetition in my diet, making only a few things for myself that I felt comfortable making and otherwise eating out.  Not very exciting and not very healthy, to be honest.

But when I began working at The Steeping Room, I was literally immersed in food that was both exciting and healthy.  And to top it all off, it was also relatively simple food, with a focus on fresh, flavorful ingredients.  It opened my eyes to what my diet could be, and ultimately fueled me with inspiration and courage to break myself out of my dietary rut and take more risks in my own kitchen.  I began investing in cookbooks and kitchen appliances, teaching myself different cooking techniques, and buying more fresh produce.  And fast forward to now, not only am I pretty handy around the kitchen, but I've also made a complete 180 in terms of my health and wellbeing.

The first time I made this salad with local curly leaf endive.

As the days grow longer and the temperature climbs, I find myself eating mostly raw vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a salad recipe with you today.  While I know it's not nearly as exciting as reading about gluten-free bread, cakes, and cookies, I hope you'll still enjoy it.  While I often discount the more everyday recipes that I make as "nothing anyone would want to read about," I remember that there was a time not so long ago that I wished I knew how to make fried rice, hummus, or just a simple salad.  

We all have to start somewhere, right?

Baby Arugula with Avocado, Pepitas, Carrots, Cucumber, & Grapefruit Supremes
Gluten-Free, Vegan, & Raw

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 1 entree salad or 2-3 appetizer-sized side salads

1/2 medium grapefruit, supremed
2-3 c baby arugula, or a similar bitter green
1/4 c carrot, sliced
1/4 c cucumber, seeded & sliced
1/4 c raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1/2 medium avocado, sliced

1.  To make your supremes, slice the top and bottom off the grapefruit and rest it squarely on your cutting board.  From top to bottom, begin slicing both the rind and pith away from pulp of the grapefruit.  If you err on anything, it is should be slicing too much rather than too little.  Afterwards, you will be left with a juicy globe, and the membrane separating each segment should be clearly seen.  With your knife, carefully slice on either side of each membrane to release the supremes.  Set aside both the supremes and the membranes (aka the "skeleton").
2.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a chilled salad bowl.  Lay the supremes on top.

The inspirational ingredients for this salad.

Texas Rio Star grapefruit is so delicious.

Grapefruit & Garlic Citronette
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Prep Time: less than 5 minutes
Yield: up to 1/3 cup

2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon agave (or to taste)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.  Squeeze the "skeleton" of the grapefruit into a bowl.  There will be a surprising amount of juice - likely more than the two tablespoons you will need for this recipe.
2.  Add remaining ingredients to grapefruit juice with the exception of the olive oil.
3.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking briskly to emulsify the oil and create a smooth, even color and consistency.  If your grapefruit and lemon juices are less acidic, you may only need two tablespoons olive oil.  Start there, taste, and then add additional olive oil to taste if necessary.
4.  Spoon over salad to serve.  For deepened garlic flavor, make an hour or two in advance of serving.
5.  If you have leftover dressing, keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed jar for up to 3 days.

Fresh juice, garlic, & spices.


One thing I really love about this salad is the harmony of flavors and textures - sweet, sour, bitter, savory; creamy, juicy, crisp, crunchy.  Truly fun for the palate.  And for as easy as this salad is to throw together, it's also pretty impressive and may elicit more than a few "ooohs" or "aaaahs" from your lucky guests.

From these recipes, may you be inspired to create simply beautiful salads all summer long to help you stay both cool and healthy.  Because when you do right by your body, it will return the favor. 


  1. Yum, this salad looks delicious! I face the same dilemma in my blogging. I feel like I should always be putting up something unusual or decadent when, really, my day-to-day meals are pretty simple. You've inspired me to capture more of those to share, thanks!

  2. Glad to know that someone else understands this situation. A lot of times we keep trying to trump ourselves or others when it comes to creativity and unexpectedness (a la Top Chef), but the best food I've eaten is always simple, straightforward, and ingredient-focused. Thank you for your comment - looking forward to checking out your blog!


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