I can't deal with cooking in the summer because if I turn the oven on the entire apartment becomes a furnace. It's just not worth it! I don't know if I mentioned it before, but Theo and I don't have AC in our lil studio. I won't bore you with the million reasons why, but suffice it to say that the environmental impact + the electric bill are more than enough justification for me to sweat it out through the summer. We do have a FANTASTIC fan though, I promise we aren't suffering. But back to food.
I love cooking and am always trying to find recipes that involve the least amount of stove-top time, and if I can avoid it altogether even better! Salads are definitely a summer staple in my house -- I have about 6 different recipes on rotation that make me feel full and are super tasty. If you know me, you know I'm not a big salad person, so there's been a lot of trial and error where salads are concerned in my home.
Whenever I suggest that kids eat salad, I'm usually met with eyerolls and skepticism. Which, first of all, rude, and second of all, give your kids some credit! As with all things, if you introduce salads when kids are very little and they are a normal part of their diet, then they won't reject it when they're older. I've always said that it's all about not giving kids junk options. If your kid has a taste for chicken nuggets at an early age well then, duh, he's gonna reject everything til you give him chicken nuggets every night! If from babyhood they are given fresh fruits and veggies, then they'll crave them instead. Kids are geniuses at knowing which foods are high in sugars, and will request carrots and bananas when they're having a sugar craving.
Anyways, back to salads. Kids will eat salad! I promise you! Here are my two "gateway" salads, as I like to call them, that have literally never been rejected by a child. The first is as easy as pie and since it mixes fruits and veggies, there are no foreign ingredients in it that would put a child off the salad.
Here's what you need:
A handful of shelled edamame
Chop the apple, tomato, and avocado into bite sized chunks, throw in the edamame, drizzle with olive oil, salt lightly, and mix. Voila! Salad! I've literally never seen a child reject this in my entire life. Doesn't matter who you are or where you live. It's tasty, light, healthy, and easy as hell.
Salad no. 2 is the next step into the salad world for kids. It's savory, not sweet, but has enough kid-beloved ingredients (peas and parm) to mask any sneaky efforts to hide greens in there. I made this guy last weekend and was going to take a picture for this post, but we devoured it before I could remember to do so. I made it and then we promptly packed it up, took Mae to Tompkins Square Park, and watched a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show as we ate it. I mean... New York in the summer I love you.
Here's what you need:
1 bag of peas (if they're frozen give them a quick blanching so they're cooked but still have a bite)
1 handful of finely chopped mint
A sprinkle of arugula or spinach
A generous helping of Parmesan
Dressing: A couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, one peeled garlic clove, and some lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together and allow the garlic clove to infuse the dressing. Before you dress the salad, REMOVE THE GARLIC CLOVE. This part is key. You only want the essence of garlic in there.
Mix all the ingredients together and serve!
Here's the trick, the first few times you make this, only put the tiniest amount of arugula or spinach in there, so as to not overwhelm the salad with it. Then as time passes, and they fall in love with it, you can add more and more. I prefer arugula, but since spinach is milder it's usually an easier salad vessel for kids. Just make sure it's raw. Even I hate cooked spinach. (Unless it's from Lil Frankies, in which case I love it. But that's because it's smothered in cheese. I too am a child.)
I promise you can get your kid to eat and love salads before the summer is out. It's all about how you present it. It shouldn't be a punishment, and there's nothing wrong with hiding the salad underneath what I like to call "goodies" like Parmesan and familiar fruits. Next step, a strawberry and spinach salad with goat cheese! It's totally doable!