Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paleo Harvest Salad

Tonight's recipe was inspired by Panera, the one fast food joint I willingly frequent with the kids in a pinch.While it's certainly a healthier option than similar chains (hormone-free meat, multiple salad options), there are obviously areas in which Panera could be healthier.

When I order a salad I skip the cheese and ask for the dressing on the side, as they usually totally submerge everything green by the latter. I'm also not thrilled with the canola and soybean oils and sugar that most of their salad dressings contain.

For example, the current Harvest Salad's cranberry vinaigrette contains:
water, soybean oil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, garlic juice, garlic base [roasted garlic, salt, maltodextrin {from corn}, garlic powder, corn starch, canola oil, and sesame oil], extra virgin olive oil, onion juice, contains less than 2% of cherry juice concentrate, salt, lemon juice concentrate, xanthan gum, natural flavors)

Tonight I tried my hand at my own version of the salad, with homemade dressing, paleo-compliant candied nuts and chicken and apple sausage (the original salad uses turkey, but I loved the way the sausage worked here).

This was a huge success. Both the salad and nut recipes yield much more than needed for tonight's salad, but I figure if you're going to take the time to make them it's nice to have extra on hand for other purposes.
I wouldn't suggest eating this salad during a Whole30 or similar program, as it's obviously a little high in sugar. You can tinker with it to suit as well, though, such as omitting the dried fruit or using less sweetener in the vinaigrette. Instead of candied nuts, plain raw nuts would also work just fine as well.
Panera’s Harvest Salad (Adaptation)

6 chicken and apple sausage links, cut into slices
10-12 oz. of mixed greens (I used romaine, spinach, radicchio and arugula)
1-2 sliced pears or apples
small handful dried cherries or cranberries

maple-honey roasted pecans:

2 cups raw pecans
1 tbs. olive or coconut oil
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. raw honey
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl; spread in an even layer on a Silpat-lined or greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

cherry vinaigrette:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. stevia or other natural granular sweetener
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup jarred organic cherry fruit spread (no sugar added)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the balsamic vinegar, stevia and garlic. Allow to simmer, stirring to help stevia dissolve. Simmer until the mixture reduces by about half (about 10 minutes total), stirring to prevent it from scorching.

Add the cherry spread and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove mixture from heat and let cool to room temperature, then whisk in the apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Be sure to whisk or shake (if put in a sealed jar or bottle) again before serving.

To compose salad, heat sausage in a skillet until browned. Top greens with sausage, sliced pear, cheese (if using), dried fruit and pecans. Drizzle vinaigrette over top.

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