a new leaf

food detective

Categories: Salads and Dressings, Sources, Eating Out, Posted on February 24, 2014 by Sandy Bergsten

When New Year’s resolutions lose their novelty it might be time to turn over a new leaf. This year I resolved to get healthy, and not for the short run but for life. I’m a pretty healthy person but I wanted to hold myself accountable. One of the ways I’m doing just that is by keeping a detailed food diary.

“A moment on the lips forever on the list” has made me think twice more than once. Tracking what I consume I realized I don’t eat as much protein as I thought. And while I drink a lot of water- do I drink as much as I think? My daughter turned me on to My Plate. It’s an app by Livestrong and it tracks my daily weight, calories, nutrition, water, and exercise.

And since I have to enter everything that enters my mouth I find myself turning toward healthier options. Kale is all the rage, and I’m loving it. So when I stumbled upon Clementine’s Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe in Palm Desert I breezed by the baked goods and settled on the prepared salad case. In it was a bright green platter fittingly named “resolution salad”. I knew I had to have it. And after one bite I knew I had to figure out how to duplicate it at home.

Playing food detective is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s like a culinary crossword puzzle. It often takes several days to solve. But when I do the reward is all the sweeter. Here’s a trick I’ve devised- I call the establishment where I first sampled what I’m hoping to recreate. (Note that when utilizing this ploy you should always call at an off time. No one is going to divulge secrets in the middle of their lunchtime rush.) Once you get someone on the phone mention that you picked up a container of …. and are going to serve it to guests but you thought you should call to find out exactly what is in it in case anyone asks. This ploy almost always works. Make sure you have a paper and pen in hand because you want to catch each and every ingredient they are going to rifle off. Oft times you will have to call back another day in the future, or stop back in and chat it up the person behind the counter to make sure you got it all down correctly.

The second level in the food detective game is finding suitable swaps to make it come together with as little effort as possible. This is where Trader Joe’s often makes a star performance. Clementine’s resolution salad contains kale, shaved broccoli, cabbage, craisins, and honeyed walnuts with a cilantro white wine vinaigrette. Trader Joe’s sells a prepackaged super veggie mix called Cruciferous Crunch Collection with kale, shaved broccoli, green and red cabbage. Down another aisle they have dried cranberries and slightly sweet candied walnuts. As for the vinaigrette I opted for my tried and true chutney garlic dressing and a handful of roughly chopped cilantro.

Here is my version of resolution salad.

resolution salad

Start with a bag of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch Collection. Place in a large bowl.

resolution salad

Add a handful of roughly chopped cilantro.

resolution salad

For the chutney garlic dressing combine the chutney, hot pepper flakes, chopped garlic, water and lemon juice in a tall bowl. With a hand blender blend until smooth.

resolution salad

With the motor running slowly pour in the canola oil until it emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper. Note that the dressing can be made days ahead of time. Toss the greens with six to eight tablespoons of dressing. 

resolution salad

Add a handful each of dried cranberries and candied walnuts.

resolution salad

Toss once more. The salad is best made earlier in the day so the flavors can meld and the greens can wilt a bit. Cover and refrigerate, then toss just before serving.

This revamped resolution is in the bag!

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