Today I’m making a salad with local produce and ingredients in my pantry and adding a refreshing honey-citrus dressing.. Let’s add Louisiana strawberries, leaf lettuce, green onions and the walnuts tucked away in my freezer from winter baking. I still have arugula in my garden. This will make a great spring salad! Passover is soon; the sweet and salty, bitter salad can be served at a seder meal, too.Salted Walnuts
One of my goals is to use up all the foods in my freezer before summer arrives. I’m a “pack rat” and freeze left-overs, homemade chicken broth, bread and cookies. Now I’ve reduced my freezer stash to Cuban espresso coffee and nuts. It will take awhile to use up these ingredients!
Nuts freeze well when the intended use is baking. Most nuts can be revived by roasting or baking in the oven until they become aromatic. A friend shared a recipe for salted pecans that I’ve wanted to try. I thought it might be interesting adapt the recipe to use the walnuts in my freezer.The recipe for salted nuts is simple. The nuts are baked in a low-temperature oven for about one hour. While still warm, they are tossed with a little oil and course sea salt.
Nutritional Benefits of Walnuts
The unique nutritional benefit of walnuts is that they contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid, required by the human body. An essential fatty acid means that your body can’t make this nutrient, you have to acquire it in your diet. Walnuts have higher amounts of this poly-unsaturated fat than other nuts including pecans, pistachios, peanuts and almonds. So walnuts can fit into a heart-healthy diet where most of the fats (limited in total amounts) are mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. Walnuts supply fiber and some minerals, too. So eating walnuts in moderation is actually healthy! Plus, I love the taste and flavor of walnuts.
Local Farmer’s Market, Produce and Louisiana Strawberries
I’m glad to see that our local farmer’s market organization is again featuring an extension market on Tuesday mornings a few blocks from where I live. It is in the parking lot of our library. It is a tiny market but I like the idea of supporting local farmers. I hope to go on Tuesday mornings and see what fresh produce the farmers have to offer.This week the market included red tip and green leaf lettuce, green onions and Louisiana strawberries. A few parishes (counties) in the eastern part of Louisiana grow a strawberries crop which ripens in the spring in Louisiana. The strawberries are sweet and juicy, but they are very perishable. Purchase these strawberries while they are available!
Nutritional Value of Strawberries
Strawberries are a popular fruit and healthy. We learned in school that strawberries are high in Vitamin C. They also contain high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals including anthocyanins and ellagic acid. These phyto-chemicals are being studied with potential health benefits protecting against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases. Eating strawberries is a good way to increase fruit in a person’s diet.
Salad with Salted Walnuts, Strawberries, Arugula and Honey-Citrus Dressing
There are an endless number of creative salad combinations that a person can make. I’m a salad lover and have many favorites. Today I’m using the produce from the farmer’s market. Green leafy lettuce grows well in Louisiana gardens in the spring. It is tender and mild and makes a good salad base. I like to add mild green onions to salads. The tart strawberries, aromatic and salty nuts and bitter arugula all blend together. Honey-Citrus Salad Dressing
The best part of the salad is the honey-citrus salad dressing. The recipe is from my friend Alice who brought the salad to a Passover seder meal several years ago. The dressing can be used all year around and Alice made several adaptions for Passover. She used honey for the sweetener. And kosher rules say that fermented products such as vinegar should be avoid. So Alice used orange and lemon juices to give a tart flavor. And of course, a little garlic adds to the flavor of the dressing.
What is Passover and What are Passover Dietary Rules
This year Passover is April 22 – 30 with the seder meal (which re-enacts the Passover escape) observed on the evening of April 21. My husband gives the short version of what Passover means. “It’s the time, once a year, where parents sit down and teach their children what it was like to be a slave and impress upon them never to be slaves again.” It is an important holiday in Jewish culture and relays the Biblical story of Exodus and survival of the Hebrews. It tells the story how of the Hebrews, enslaved in ancient Egypt for 400 years, and led by Moses managed to escape to the Promise Land. The homes of the Jewish people were “passed over” during the plagues; they escaped and flourished.
For Passover, most of us know that leavened bread and most flours are avoided during the eight day period of this celebration. That is because the Hebrews had to leave Egypt in a hurry and did not have time for their bread to rise before it was baked. Matzah, or bread for Passover, can be included in the seder meal since it is cooked for less than 18 minutes.
There are many other dietary rules, too many or technical to include here. Some seem to be made arbitrarily made by the rabbis. For example corn and corn products are avoided since the rabbis deemed that anything that gave the appearance of flour (corn can be ground up) should be avoided. Also fermented foods are avoided. This includes vinegar made from malt or corn syrup. Ketchup is often avoided because it contains vinegar!
Some honey contains corn syrup, so honey used during Passover should be certified as meeting kosher requirements. My honey has been sitting on my shelf for year or so — probably wouldn’t be allowed during Passover for this reason alone. And a tip: if your honey becomes too thick to pour, heat it on the stove in water until it thins.
Salad with Salted Walnuts, Strawberries, Arugula & Honey-Citrus Dressing
- 1 bunch leaf lettuce, washed and torn
- 1 cup packed arugula, washed and torn
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 pint strawberries, rinsed, stems removed and large strawberries halved
- 8 oz salted walnuts (see recipe below)
- 1-1/2 cups honey-citrus salad dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions and Steps
- In salad bowl, combine leaf lettuce, arugula and green onions.
- Add most of the strawberries and walnuts, stir to combine.
- Sprinkle remaining strawberries and walnuts around edge of salad bowl in decorative pattern.
- Serve salad dressing on the side.
- 8 oz whole walnuts
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 Tbsp course sea salt or kosher salt
Method and Steps
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Spread walnuts in 9″ x 9″ baking pan..
- Bake for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until aromatic and slightly brown.
- Remove from oven and baking pan, and while still hot, toss with canola oil and sea salt or kosher salt.
Honey-Citrus Salad Dressing by Alice Carroll
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice from 1 large fresh squeezed lemon
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic minced through a garlic press
- 1/2 salt to taste (optional)
Method and Steps
- Combine all ingredients (except salt) in food processor bowl. Pulse to combine.
- Add salt, if desired, and process.
- Chill until ready to serve, shake to recombine before serving.
California Walnuts. //www.walnuts.org/health-and-walnuts/nutrition/alpha-linolenic-acid/
Strawberry Nutrition Facts. ://www.nutrition-and-you.com/strawberries.html
What is Kosher for Passover. //judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/What-Is-Kosher-For-Passover.htm
The Passover (Pesach) Story. //judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/The-Passover-Pehtmsach-Story.