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Make a salad

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Tired of eating thick soups and meat loaf? Have the winter blahs taken their toll, sending you out for high-fat fast food?

Help is on the way.

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Make a salad to remind you spring is here. Add a baked chicken breast on top and you have main dish.

That's what those who took the "Spring Salads" class learned on Gentle Saturday hosted recently by District 833 Community Education.

Taught by Laurel Severson, students learned a lot more than how to make delicious salads. They got cooking tips as well.

The difference between standard cream cheese, low fat and no fat cream cheese is a matter of taste.

"When they take out the fat, they add more sugar to make up for it," Severson said.

If you must use a low or no-fat cheese, add some lemon juice or vinegar. "It will add zest," she said.

Sea salt and Kosher salt tend to clump, but can offer a brighter, fresher taste to food, as opposed to standard table salt.

Unsalted butter, if your recipe calls for it, can give a recipe a fresher taste. Salt is added as a preservative and can cover up lower quality butter. Bakers like unsalted butter so they can control the amount of salt in desserts and breads.

Use a potato peeler to take off strips of orange peel to flavor a cooked salad dressing. Make sure you do not shave off any of the white stuff because it's bitter. Before serving, remove the peels from the dressing.

Severson said Brie, a soft cheese, adds extra taste to a spinach salad topped with caramelized walnuts, raspberries and homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

"The Brie coating is completely eatable, "Severson said. "Let your guests remove it if they want to. The riper the cheese, the more it will ooze out at room temperature."

There is more than one type of feta cheese, she said. Try shopping at a specialty food store and sample several kinds, she said.

While soaking up cooking tips, Carol Urbanski and Delina Sherette made a wild rice salad with fresh mushrooms and cashews.

"The class sounded wonderful," Sherette said. "You can't go wrong with salads."

Joe and Carol Fohrman enjoy cooking together.

"We wanted to do something new," said Carol while following the directions to cook Quinoa, a tiny grain that is cooked and added to chopped onions, peppers and olives.

Relatively new to American cooks, Quinoa is seeds of a plant related to spinach. When cooked, it offers "complete" protein.

Joe said food processors might be quicker, but he prefers chopping everything by hand.

Suzanne Coleman and Byerly have taken several cooking classes together including Chinese food and appetizers.

"Then we took belly dancing to burn off the weight we gained," Coleman said.

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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