I know we’re often fed up about all the food rules — eat this, don’t eat that, only eat that in relation to this, alternate all the thises and thatses to maximize the something elses…
But in the last few weeks I’ve stumbled upon a new rule you hopefully won’t mind: Salads, whenever at all possible, should be beautiful.
This is technically true for all food. Think about the artful presentations at fancy restaurants. Or the specialized swirls in barista-made lattes. But it’s especially easy to accomplish during summer salad season, and if you can, you should.
Flowers are the key. So many are edible! From dandelions dotting spring lawns to kale going to seed, from high-summer delights like Mondarda to weedy borage and wild fireweed, edible flowers are a simple way to special-up your meals.
A surprising number of flowers actually are edible. Nasturtiums are a summer staple, and Calendula blooms almost year ’round in much of the Pacific Northwest. Portland is known as the City of Roses (just make sure you use unsprayed petals.) Squash blossoms and daylilies are robust enough to stuff, if you feel like getting fancy.
I’m enjoying these peak summer days when so many blooms are available to beautify meals. The next challenge: What to do when there are fewer floral options.
In the salad pictured at the top of this post, I started playing around with Chioggia beets from the Homer Farmer’s Market. Their roots are candy striped white and pink, and so a great way to add color to your greens. Later in the season, one could grate up beets or carrots of many colors to keep things pretty.
(By the way, all the salads above are fully locally Alaska Grown. See more below and on my Instagram feed.)
This feels like the beginning of a new mission: The Salad Beautification Project. Are you with me?
Beautiful food can be simple, making meals more enticing and joyous. And as you know, joy is medicine.
P.S. Joy is also infectious: I’ve been asked to do record a talk on this topic for my colleagues at the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians annual conference. If you’re attending, make sure to check it out. If you’re not a doctor needing the continuing education-credit, no worries. I’ll be making a video for you soon, too!