VEGETARIAN | GLUTEN-FREE | CAN BE DAIRY-FREE* | CAN BE PALEO*
My love affair with toasted nuts began when my boyfriend first made me his top-secret kale and Brussels sprouts salad.
The secret dressing for that secret salad is deliciously savory and lemony — but it’s the warmth and the crunch of the toasted almonds that send the whole thing to the next level. One day, I’ll be able to share that recipe with you. One day.
Until then, I can share my own salad + toasted nut combinations. Adding nuts to salads is my favorite way to incorporate some (paleo-friendly!) crunch — not to mention protein and healthy fats. Toasting them adds a warmth and depth of flavor that elevates your greens.
This recipe is kind of an Isreali salad (pine nuts, lemon, fresh veggies), kind of a Greek salad (feta, red wine vinegar) — but since I was serving it with meatballs, I made the the dressing with some Italian herbs. We’ll call it… Mediterranean.
In this crunchy, fresh, Mediterranean salad, there’s a beautiful balance of flavors and textures. You get the crunch of the romaine, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes; the tang of the feta cheese; the citrusy zing of the dressing; and the earthy warmth of the toasted pine nuts.
If you’re going to bring this salad in your lunchbox (with say, some grilled chicken), bring the veggies, nuts, dressing, and feta in separate containers/baggies and toss immediately before serving for ultimate crunch and freshness. The lettuce will unfortunately go limp if you toss it in the dressing in advance.
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tsp Italian herb blend (or basil, oregano, parsley)
- 1/2 tsp+ of salt
- Black pepper
For the salad:
- 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 bunch radishes, diced
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled* (eliminate for dairy-free, paleo)
- 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
- EVOO (for toasting nuts)
- Mix all salad dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar. Store in fridge until ready to use.
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of EVOO, swirl around the pan, then toss in the pine nuts. Do not leave the pine nuts unattended or you will burn them.
- Toss the pine nuts around in the pan as they heat until they are fragrant and golden in color.
- Add lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes into a salad bowl and toss with dressing. Then add feta cheese and pine nuts and serve.
This recipe is very adaptable. Replace the romaine with chopped bell peppers, radishes, and parsley to make it more of an Isreali salad; add Kalamata olives to Greek-ify the thing; or add artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes and replace the feta with shaved Parm to make it more Italian. Do you booboo.