Grow Green, Save Green, Go Green….

Salad is a wonderful thing. It really is – no, really. Personally, we at The Budget Ecoist have never trusted when a person claims not to like salad. It’s like when someone says, “I don’t like spaghetti.” Who doesn’t like spaghetti? As for salad, there are so many variations, to make a blanket statement that includes “don’t like” and “salad” just screams to us, “I haven’t really tried….”

So we’re making it easy for you to step up to the salad bowl. Salad offers a healthy supply of vegetables to your diet, it’s easy and convenient to grow, it saves you a lot of money (we’ll show you how!), and it prevents the waste of food. Never thought a salad could be so versatile? Just wait and see…

Grow Green: Salad is incredibly easy to grow, and requires minimal space. There’s a salad available for every season. Summer is all about Romaine. But the healthiest salad varieties are available during the fall and winter: arugula, radicchio, Belgian endive, curly endive, frisee, and escarole. Salads can be grown directly in the ground, of course, but wine barrels make for great containers for growing colorful salad mixes, and terra cotta pots will even work (if you have a balcony or a sunny window, you too can grow salad!). Salads are prolific growers, require minimal “green-thumbage”, and offer year-round seasonal vegetables for you and your family. All for the cost of a little organic seed packet. To learn how to best grow salad in your area, read these tips on growing fresh salad greens.

Save Green: Count how many times you’ve purchased a bag of salad, only to waste a partial or entire bag…consider that money in your pocket. In fact, think about all of the vegetables you’ve bought over the years, that sit in your refrigerator or on your counter, going bad before you get around to using them. Having home grown salad around means you always have a vegetable on hand, and if money’s tight that week, there’s no need to buy more side dishes…just whip up a salad. And because salad is so versatile you can serve it throughout the week without mimicking the version from last night. Remember our post on buying in bulk? Bulk items kept on hand can be great additions to a salad. For example, items we keep as a part of our staples include all sorts of nuts (walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds), dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apples), plenty of vinegars (barrel aged red, chardonnay, California golden, balsamic, apple cider, rice wine) and of course, our best olive oils are reserved for salads (the cheaper stuff is for cooking!). You can see how you can basically go and pick some salad from your container or garden and throw together something delicious with what you already have on hand. And then of course you can go through whatever fresh vegetables, fruits or cheeses you might have as well. Voila! Instant side dish or meal, utilizing what you already have.

Go Green: We’re hoping by now we’ve convinced you into perhaps growing a test container of salad and seeing how it works out for you. If we have, or if you are just wanting to pick up a bag of mixed greens at the farmer’s market this weekend, here’s a simple salad that easy and inexpensive to make, and delicious besides.

A simple dressing: Crush or finely chop a clove of garlic, mix with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Slowly mix in 3 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil.

A simple salad: Take several handfuls of mixed salad greens, depending on number served. Add thinly sliced red onions and slowly add in salad dressing, while mixing to cover the salad, to taste. Add slivers of Parmesan cheese to top off the salad (tip: Parmesan keeps better than most cheeses. Buy a small block and keep in your fridge for whenever you need to shave, sliver or grate).

Surprisingly simple, simply delicious.