it’s easy being green — satisfying gluten free salads

Growing up, if we talked about salad it meant some kind of pasta salad or cranberry salad at Thanksgiving. When we had a “salad” of lettuce and toppings with dressing, we called it lettuce.

Interesting, yes?

These satisfying salads are kind of a combo of both — greens mixed with toppings, some served up traditional style, and others deconstructed.

Either way, they will keep you full for longer then just lettuce. ūüôā

I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets warmer, the last thing I want to do when I get home is heat up the kitchen. I prefer to throw something on the grill, or go with a no-cooking-required meal like a hearty salad or a smoothie.

Most of these salads were thrown together with what was in the fridge at the time, so don’t go getting worried about the ingredients or following a strict recipe. Instead, I’ll give you the rundown on what’s in the mix for each one, and you can substitute to fit your dietary needs (or your kids’ preferences) or toss in additions that you are craving. Then come back and tell me what you tried!

Mediterranean Spring Greens Salad

  • tuna
  • ¬†tomatoes
  • kalamata olives
  • feta cheese¬†
  • Green Goddess Dressing

Black Bean Quinoa Salad

  • quinoa
  • tomatoes
  • black beans
  • scallions
  • cilantro
  • dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly squeezed lime juice¬†

Taco Salad

  • mixed greens
  • taco meat – beef, chicken, or pork
  • refried beans¬†
  • tomatoes
  • salsa
  • Cotija cheese¬†
  • sour cream

Fennel & Orange Sesame Salad

  • romaine lettuce
  • shaved fennel
  • orange segments
  • kalamata olives¬†
  • feta cheese
  • sesame seeds¬†
  • dressed with: remaining juice from orange, splash of champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper

Roasted Beet & Walnut Salad with Goat Cheese

  • mixed greens & spinach (lightly dressed with balsamic vinaigrette)
  • roasted or pickled beets
  • chopped walnuts
  • goat cheese¬†

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps 

  • buffalo chicken pieces (Frank’s Hot Sauce with a bit of butter)
  • shaved carrots
  • diced celery¬†
  • iceberg lettuce¬†
  • ranch dressing

Caprese Bites

  • fresh basil leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella (mini mozz balls work well)
  • aged balsamic vinegar (not pictured, drizzled on top)
  • salt & pepper to taste¬†

Need another salad dressing idea? How about creamy avocado dressing? In that same post, you’ll find the croutons.

Any of these sound like they could end up in YOUR kitchen this week? What other salad combos are you putting together? 

 

gluten-free croutons & creamy avocado dressing

This is the situation inside my freezer door.

It’s no secret that I’m an Udi’s fan. From the first time I got my hands on some Udi’s, I’ve been talking and writing about them. They helped get me through my meatless-week. This egg-lovin’ girl would be lost without them for my breakfasts. Shortly after they made fondue fun, I even had the pleasure of eating at their cafe in Denver.

I heart Udi’s.

Get it?

Got it?

Good.

So you can understand how my freezer door gets filled up with the ends of my loaves of bread. Same idea as the story I told you about my mom keeping black bananas in the freezer. No wasting around this house.

What do I use them for?

I’m so happy you asked.

Sometimes I tear them up and toss them in the food processor to make bread crumbs. Much cheaper than buying them at the store, and they can stay in the freezer for a long time. (use them for meatloaf, breading for chicken, magnificent meatballs that your friends make for you, all kinds of things)

But today, they were transformed into croutons.

Don’t you miss croutons sometimes?

Now you can make your own at home. In no time.

And while you’re at it, go ahead and make some creamy avocado dressing for your salad too. This was an on-the-fly dressing that turned out perfectly. Not a salad fan? You could dip chicken strips in it. Use it as a glaze for chicken, fish or any protein really. Eat it out of the container with a spoon… I’m not promoting that, just saying you could do that, if you really wanted to.

Gluten-Free Croutons & Creamy Avocado Dressing

Cut ends of loaves into large cubes. (or smaller, whatever makes you happy) Place in bowl and lightly coat with olive oil. Squeeze a little lemon juice on them too. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other spice blend you are craving. I used some that a dear friend brought home from Italy. Toss to coat and spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown.

I didn’t add exact amounts for this, because it is such a versatile recipe. You can just use one slice of bread if you would like. Same process, and then toast the croutons in your toaster oven. If you have fresh herbs, use those. Modify it to fit your needs.

For the dressing:

1/2 avocado

juice from 1/2 lime

small handful green onion

1 tablespoon plain yogurt (you can omit this to make it dairy-free, it will still be creamy from avocado)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder — season with the amount that makes your taste buds dance

Combine all ingredients using emulsion blender, until nice and smooth. Creamy. Oh-so-good.

See that rub on the chicken? My friend Katie was kind enough to send me some samples of gluten-free products from Wild Tree. This is the Chipotle Lime Rub. A little tangy, a little kick to it. (you could also put a couple of pinches of it into the dressing) They have a whole list of gluten-free products for us. Go check out her page.

Then come back here and tell me your favorite salad combo. My salad: romaine, red lettuce, red peppers, black beans, green onion. What’s topping your greens?