Friday, May 11, 2012

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Salad


I just love it when it's easy to be virtuous. I'm gratified when the sun is setting and I have accomplished ... you know ...something. When a huge project that looms like the spirit of doom over you is suddenly broken down into bits and pieces and you find - you're not tearing your hair out and muttering odd words to yourself - but actually completing the project. Those are my happy days.

Tell me virtuous eating is all about celery sticks and carrots and I go running to the nearest bowl of pasta. And gelato. And salty-dark chocolate. During my week of the "huge project that follows me like a storm cloud," I have been contemplating a new diet - only carbs! They jump start my brain. For five minutes and then I need a nap.

When this happiness salad appeared (tender, chopped zucchini, fresh corn, berries, pears, peaches  and then topped with that decadent fruit that masquerades as a vegetable - the avocado), I found a midway point. I could balance my carb-laden dishes (which fuels my spirit) and my plant-laden meals (which offers me balance).


My happiness salad is from Zarela Martinez and she is Week 47 of Gourmet's Female Game-Changers in Food. Martinez was born and raised in Mexico but began her cooking career in El Paso, Texas. Paul Prudhomme and Craig Claiborne noted her extraordinary Mexican cooking and encouraged her to move to New York City.There she became the menu designer and eventually the Executive Chef for Marimba. She garnered a lot of attention for creating true Mexican  Cuisine but with local New York resources.

Her dishes have been described as "vivid" and "vibrant." I find that so appropriate because when I think of Mexico - vibrant colors are indeed what come to mind.

In 1987, she opened her own restaurant Zarela - which received excellent reviews and had a fiercely loyal customer base. New Yorkers still lament her decision to close Zarela in 2011. It was time to move on to other things. She has an unwavering commitment to Mexican culture and wants to promote that knowledge through her knowledge of food and Mexican traditions. To that end, she is on the Board of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Martinez continues to make TV appearance, cater and offers cooking lessons. There are whispers of a new restaurant or salon - we shall see. Meanwhile, her extensive knowledge of Mexican cuisines and many recipes can be found at her website:  http://www.zarela.com/about/


This salad is not the typical fare at any Mexican restaurant in Minnesota! And for those who think Mexican cooking is all about the carbs (not that there's anything wrong with that)- this recipe may have you rethinking that.

Fruit and Vegetable Salad - serves 6-8
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 medium zucchini - diced
1 small cucumber - diced
1 pear (preferable Comice - I used Bosc) - peeled and diced
1 firm, sweet peach, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh blueberries
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (I omitted - when you can find a peach in the store - you cannot find a pomegranate)
2 small avocados - peeled and finely diced (I used 1 medium)
1/4 olive oil (I used less)
Juice of 3 limes (I used 2)
salt to taste


Combine fruits and vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil and lime juice to taste. Add salt. Pour over salad. Serve immediately.

One thing I did note is that this salad does depend on having at least 3 seasons worth of fresh ingredients at your grocer. Pomegranate and blueberries don't jump into the stores at the same month!

I must also note that although this serves 6-8, 3 of us ate it all with glee.

And my huge project?  It is becoming so exciting I am like the countdown to New Year's Eve. With garden-fresh ingredients on my right side and pasta on my left side, I am no longer creating a bald spot from tearing out my hair. On the contrary - I am leaping awkwardly around the house in sheer excitement and alarming the cat. Time for balance. Time for more of this salad.  


Check out what the other bloggers are doing to honor this week's game-changer Zarela Martinez and if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.

Susan - The Spice GardenHeather - girlichef,
Miranda - Mangoes and ChutneyJeanette - Healthy Living
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Simple Nourished Living

31 comments:

bellini said...

Vivid and vibrant this certainly is.

Kathy said...

Claudia, This salad looks amazing! A bright and beautiful addition to any table! I can’t wait to try this one! Happy Mother’s Day!

Linda said...

Not only is this salad pretty, it also looks healthy. perfect combination to a light fresh salad.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Claudia - Your excitement is contagious. not just for the delicious salad but for the other good news I just about. A very good day and brava to you.

Lynda said...

Such a fresh, vibrant salad! This salad is perfect for our hot, humid days coming. When the weather is steamy, I rely on fresh dishes like this. Thanks for sharing Claudia.

Alyce said...

So fresh! The perfect thing for a side for Mother's Day cookout. I can see eating this over and over and am wondering about substitutions for the out of season things like pom? Enjoy this beautiful day. I'm baking rhubarb pie to take to a friend's for dinner.

Jill~a SaucyCook said...

This salad does look wonderful and thank you for acknowledging that pomegranates and blueberries are counter seasonal! As for the cliff hanger-that was mean! What's the exciting project? Anyway, I am happy to hear that a bald spot is no longer in the making for you!

Pegasuslegend said...

I think everyone would live longer if we just always ate this healthy and does it ever look amazingly delicious!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This salad looks like a healthier way to incorporate antooxidant rich blueberries into my diet, Claudia, instead of putting them in muffins or cake.

I feel your excitment and wish you luck in your new endeavors!

Happy Mother's Day this weekend!

CJ - Food Stories said...

I like your balanced approach :-)

Gina said...

Phew, leave the hair alone, lol. So glad you are getting finished. I don't know how you do it? I can't seem to find any balance these day myself. I could eat this. Hope you have a great weekend.
-Gina-

Chiara Giglio said...

So fresh and healty, can't wait to try, it's a perfect dish for a party! have a good weekend...

Heather @girlichef.com said...

What a fun combo! I'm so surprised by those blueberries in there...but I SO want to eat a bowl full. Vibrant and perfectly representative of Zarela!

Ruth Martins said...

Incredibly attractive. totally agree with your rebellious side lol I would be running for the next bowl of pasta too but this certainly changes everything. Full of flavour!

Tina Bk said...

Nice read about Zarela's culinary journey. I love authentic mexican food, so much more healthier than tex mex! This salad is a perfect example, so fresh and delicious. Enjoy the weekend!

Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits said...

What a great way to get your daily variety of fruit and vegetables. So healthy!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a delightful salad, so fresh and healthy and full of fruits and vegetables. I'm loving it.

Happy Mother's Day to you.
Sam

Mari said...

Great salad recipe. Original combination of flavors that looks delicious :) Your ricotta gelato looks divine.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Balvinder Ubi said...

this salad is just the right for this kind of weather. Vibrant and full of flavor. i like the addition of blueberries.

Mary said...

I love the ingredients in this salad and plan to try it soon. It really does sound wonderful. I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day. Blessings...Mary

love2dine said...

Oh, my! These really look exceptionally healthy and delicious

Jeannie said...

Mmmm...give me a bowl of this fruity salad and I am a happy woman:D delicious and fresh and healthy, just so what I need after all the cakes binging. Happy Mother's Day to you

Veronica Gantley said...

What a colorful salad. You picked a great recipe to feature this week. Thanks for sharing with us.

SKIP TO MALOU said...

Iwould love to be enveloped in that feeling of your "happy days".. It's been challenging to find my balance.
Sad that her resto closed but her legacy lives on....and this vibrant and cheery salad is a proof.

Happy mother's day Claudia....

My Little Space said...

Claudia, wishing you a very Happy Mother's Day. ((hugs)) Hope you're having a fabulous day with loads of fun & laughter. And your salad looks just cool for this special day.
Blessings
Kristy

Angie's Recipes said...

I am a sucker for salads. This looks vivid and vibrant!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Hmmm I already like this salad from the first look! Blueberries, corn, peaches... PERFECT. I can eat this as main dish too! Thanks for the recipe. Very easy to put together on busy days!

Beth said...

I'm thrilled to hear how well your project is going! And I love the idea of a happiness salad. This one looks wonderful.

Susan Lindquist said...

What a salad! I imagine that late summer, one could find some awesome berries, peaches, the first pears ... def zucchini and corn ... oh what a summertime treat!

And dream about the poms!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Good dish! Love the combo of flavors. In the 80's & 90's I was lucky enough to work just a few blocks from Zerela's, so I'd eat there several times a year. Good stuff! Thanks for this post - it brought back some happy memories of great meals.

Reeni said...

What a luscious mix of fruits and veggies! Not what I think of when I hear Mexican food. All the more reason to love it.