Recipe: Simple Salads & Hidden Treasures

Treasure hunting anyone?

A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

As I have said before, good grocery stores are truly my happy place.

I love roaming the produce aisles for anything special that catches my eye, and screams at me to consume it (or feed it to friends and family).

Occasionally, I like a good deal too. (Okay, who are we kidding here). I love a good deal. I mean, who doesn’t?

So I always check my local shop for their cast-offs in the produce department. I spent years working with fresh vegetables and I know that vast amounts of fresh food get chucked from grocery stores everyday – so I like rescuing them. It feels good.

Good deals. Good karma. Hidden treasure.

How can this not pull at your heart strings (just a little)?

It’s true that old saying too: someone’s trash can be another person’s treasure (and also my cooking fun and sustenance for the weekend).

These were easy foods to process as I just popped them in the oven to cook while I tackled my other weekend project: organizing years of children’s artwork, letters, cards, & photos into one easy, safe place.

(A big job.)

There is always lots of emotion (and lots of fun too) going through all that old stuff. Because as most parents learn all too quickly:

Kids do get older (it’s true what they say).

My cheap veggie treasures in the grocery store were well-matched by the treasure trove of precious family memories contained in a few sturdy storage boxes (now well organized in the basement).

It’s easy to feel (just a little) sentimental at the passing of time when I look at this stuff.

I try not to get too mushy – because I love where the family is at right now. It just reminds me to try to enjoy every moment.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

~ Dr. Seuss

So as we packed away our memories so we can access them easier, (and enjoy them longer), the little gems that were rescued from the floor of my neighborhood green grocer cooked slowly and luxuriously in the kitchen.

My grab bags of reject (cheap) gold beets and tomatoes. Enter rescue mission, and henceforth...inspiration.

Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner in which it is bestowed.

~ Samuel Johnson

I love roasting veggies for use later in a cold dish, or in a soup or sauce.

This post is meant to celebrate the beauty in simplicity, and the gorgeous flavors that can come from simple things, like food destined to be wasted. Or as I call it, hidden treasure.

The Less:

Less heavy foods makes easy work of digestion. Less waste in our grocery stores means less waste in our composts or (even worse) city landfills. Less ingredients in your bowl means more appreciation of each individual ingredient. Less stove top cooking means you can tackle other jobs while your food cooks and your oven does all the work.

The More:

More green and orange vegetables means more vitamins and minerals. More roughage means more activity where it matters. More salad emphasis means more uses for more varieties of veggies. More variety means more ideas and inspiration (ain’t that something to treasure!).

Kale & Butter Lettuce Salad w/ Gold Beets & Yam:

  • (1/2) bunch curly kale, chopped, steamed 3-4 minutes, and cooled
  • (1) head green butter lettuce, washed and torn
  • (1/2) cup roasted hazelnuts
  • (3-4) roasted gold beets, cooled & sliced or chopped
  • (1) cubed roasted yam, cooled
  • (2-3) tbsp olive oil for cooking
  • Cashew Herb Dressing

To roast the yam:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube the yam* into one inch chunks and place in a bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil and a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt and mix with your hands.Lay flat on a cookie sheet (with an edge) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes (turning over half way through with a flipper), or until soft, brown, and slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool in a bowl until ready to use. These will keep up to a week in the fridge, but they won’t last that long!

*True yams are the orange fleshed sweet potato (also sometimes garnet colored) – true sweet potatoes are the yellow fleshed ones, many think they are the same, but alas they are not!

To roast the beets:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each beet individually in foil. Using a fork, pierce each beet 4-5 times as deeply as you can through the foil wrapper (do this carefully!), making sure to get all sides. Place beets on a flat tray and bake until soft, about 1-1.5 hours depending on the size of the beets. When soft to the touch, remove from the oven and let cool. When cool, unwrap the beets. To peel them, hold them in your hands and while running under cold water, rub the skin off with your hands. Once peeled, cut off the tips of the beets and store or slice as you wish. Beets will keep this way in the fridge for several days.

To roast the hazelnuts:

Hazelnuts roast in roughly 15 minutes using the roasting method I described here. Simply lay them on a flat pan and dry roast at 350 degrees until fragrant and turning a golden brown. If you pop them in an already warm oven, they will be ready in 7-8 minutes or so. To peel them, simply let cool and rub with your hands, the skin will fall right off! Use in salads, granola, or as a snack with dates!

Assembling your salad:

I always use my hands to assemble my greens and I tear lettuce whenever I can (except for romaine). Assemble your beautiful salad by mixing the 2 greens together in a nice clean bowl. Top the bowl of greens with the whole nuts, sliced or chopped beets, and the sweet roasted yams.

Serve with Cashew Herb Dressing and some additional toppings if desired (my personal faves are goat cheese and dried cranberries).

This salad might serve 2-4 people depending on your appetite or what you are eating it with.

Served on it’s own these ingredients make for a gorgeously simple, fresh, and elegant salad that is remarkably satisfying and filling!

Keep in mind all of these amounts are variable – feel free to play around with what suits your mood!

I hope you all had a fabulous day!

  • Where did you find treasure this weekend?
  • Do you have a favorite salad?

One truly great treasure for me this weekend was the amazing feedback I received from all of you!

I absolutely delight in hearing your stories of almond-milking, kale-hunting, cookie-making, and granola crunching…

It really makes my day! (Thank you!)

This week I’ll tell you what I did with those cheap juicy tomatoes above as well as (if all goes well) another yummy dessert…

Happy Monday!

Yours in Less,


Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Dressings, Family, Nut Recipes, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Shopping, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

25 responses to “Recipe: Simple Salads & Hidden Treasures

  1. So many wonderful things in this post!! The quotes! The beets! The yams! And, I love roaming the produce aisles! Shoot any aisle…I could spend hours in trader joe’s or whole foods! Wish I had more of a local joint…

  2. I have to say that reveling in veggies seems a much more attainable goal for me right now than triageing the kids’ artwork. :). I would never have thought to pair cooked kale and butter lettuce but I bet the texture contrast is great! And I love the Dr. Seuss quote. πŸ™‚

    • I know Emmy – it has taken me years!….my eldest is 14! I am not sure how old your kids are, but it took me this long (insert guilty pang here). The contrast is lovely and the leftovers (if kept separate) keep really well. Dr. Seuss..I know, awesome! Hope you are well! πŸ˜‰

      • My little artists are 3 & 5, if I wait until they’re 14 I’ll be in trouble…which is probably exactly what will happen! I try to pile up the many ‘treasures’ & purge the rest but containing chaos has never been my strong point. πŸ™‚

      • I am the same….what I had was a poorly managed system..resulting in stuff kind of everywhere (much like my tiny closet at times *sigh*)….you’ve got lots of time! I am sure you are reveling…;)

  3. Your recipes and photos to match are fabulous. You do a great job with these blogs. Simple, interesting and mixing up the format to make the whole blog interesting. Thanks

  4. Another fab’ post from Vancouver! The dressing (in particular) sounds superb.

    In NZ, yams (or orange sweet potato) are known as kumara. Yams are something different to us Kiwis. You may know them as ‘Oca’? πŸ™‚

    Was it a wee bit bitter-sweet packing away all that beautiful art work?

    • Oh thank you Miss Sydney! Great to hear from you! The dressing is (indeed) very sharp!
      I have never heard of those names (and never ‘Oca’? come to think of it — maybe..?) that’s cool that they are known as different things..(less confusing!)
      Yes, yes it was hard….I am a crier so you can well imagine…I had them kept, but a wee bit everywhere. Good to have them in a proper home which they deserve!!
      How’s Sydney life? πŸ™‚

  5. Lovely post ! I love the way your bring in the recipe with a story πŸ™‚ fantastic visuals πŸ™‚

  6. What a beautiful salad! When I go to the produce section I almost never check for cast-offs, always stick to my game plan. But I should give it a try, I might just find something new!

    • Thanks Gabby! I’m a terrible game planner as my whim can change in a split second…I could do better to stay on track but it’s just so hard! πŸ˜‰

  7. Looks awesome and great photos! Stop by and say hi πŸ™‚

  8. Lovely post Shira, itself a treasure! And I truly love roasted root veggies and nuts in a salad! So perfectly heart warming in the colder months! and the drawing? HONESTLY! Could anything get any cuter!?

  9. Beverly

    Loved your quote by Dr Seuss πŸ™‚ Also, great tip on including an orange veggie with your meal. I’ve recently read that elsewhere and have been challenging myself to do so. Right now I’m stuck on carrots and orange bell peppers so I will definitely try out the golden beat!

    My favourite salad topping is to do a bit of a stir fry with chicken or fish (salmon), onions, diced tomatoes, spices, a clove of garlic and some bell peppers in oil (grape seed, olive or coconut) and then put that mixture on top of my spinach salad along with raw sprouts, avocado, cucumbers etc. Hot meets cold and the stir fry mix acts as a dressing, too. Sometimes, for a little extra flavouring, I’ll squeeze half a lime on top and stir. YUM!

  10. Funny….saw your post of Tolkien’s quote and I have Lord of the Rings on the tv now. =P

  11. Shira – I love the quotes you always intersperse within your post. My favourite is the Dr Seuss one.

  12. Nice recipe…I think I will try it with some roasted butternut squash leftover in the fridge. I love butter lettuce…it’s also good buy itself with some olive oil drizzled on top and a light sprinkling of sea salt.

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