Ask Chef Boy Ari
A Locavore's Winter Salad Bar
Q: Dear Chef,
My family is trying really hard to do the local foods/seasonal-eating thing. The onions, squash, carrots, potatoes and garlic in our basement were all purchased at the farmers’ market. My daughter picked the strawberries in the freezer and says she wants to go hunting next year! This year we went in on a cow and a pig, both from a local farm, with our neighbors.
We follow your "slow boat rule," so we drink coffee and eat chocolate like normal people, and for the most part our "locavore" diet is fun and satisfying. But the one area where we're having some trouble this winter—especially me—is in the salad department. I really feel that eating green leaves and raw vegetables gives me something no other foods can offer. I worry that I’m depriving myself and my family of these nutrients for the sake of an intellectual exercise. Help!
—Jonesing for Mojo
A: Dear Jonesing,
I don’t think it’s your imagination. Raw, living foods really are good and tasty.
First suggestion: You can make a salad by grating those carrots, onions and garlic in your basement. They might not be leafy greens, but they’ll give you that raw foods energy burst. That’s what they do in Siberia, since they can't run to the store like us tender-skins and get watercress, romaine and baby spinach.
Second idea: Consider growing sprouts. Many seeds and grains, from mung beans to sunflower seeds to quinoa to wheat, will easily sprout, and the sprouts have the chlorophyll and vitality of spring shoots.
Soak 1 tablespoon of seeds or 1/3 cup beans in 1 quart of tepid water overnight. The next day, rinse the seeds thoroughly in tepid water and drain. Place in a quart jar covered with a dampened washcloth. Fasten with a rubber band and store in a dark cupboard. Rinse the seeds or beans twice each day. Make sure excess moisture is drained off each time. Depending on what you’re sprouting, it’ll take 2 to 5 days.
And if you have to buy a few salads from California, it isn't the end of the world. After all, California can’t be that far away, judging from all the darn Californicators everywhere. And by the way, that Slow Boat rule is Bill McKibben's, not mine—only food that could have arrived on a slow boat from China, like canned and dried things, not frozen or even refrigerated.
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