June 10, 2023. Every June. I lose five pounds. I don’t need to. I don’t try to. It has nothing to do with how I’ll look in swim trunks in July.
I think it’s all the lettuce. All the amazingly flavorful greens we get every year when our CSA farm share kicks in. We got the first weekly delivery yesterday. Just-picked Buttercrunch, Tropicana, Oak Leaf and Red Tide lettuces. Plus bok choy and Chinese cabbage. Makes you realize how important freshness is. Mine was picked 24 hours before I ate it. The supermarket’s is picked two or three weeks before it travels its long and winding road to the produce department cooler.
If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to bet I’ll lose five pounds during the next four weeks. Because each week, the two of us will eat three big heads of lettuce plus a lot of other late Spring greens. Sure, leafy greens have near-zero calorie content. But here’s the trick: when you eat so many, there’s not much room left on your plate for everything else. So you eat a lot less of the high-calorie stuff. Which is great if you want to lose some weight.
My motivation is the same year round. I really like to eat, and I really like to eat delicious stuff. That lettuce soup is delicious. Might sound ridiculous, but it really tastes great. So does this 3 Greens & Bean Salad.
For a huge salad that two good eaters can polish off if it’s a main course. If not, well, 6 side salads.
12 cups of lettuces, torn, rinsed, dried. It’s June: you need a salad spinner.
1 cup of cooked heirloom beans. I used chickpeas.
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (I used the garlic chives and oregano that came in my Farm Share)
Salt to taste
3 Greens & Bean Salad
I knew the lettuce was coming so I made a pot of heirloom chickpeas from Rancho Gordo the day before. I added one cup of these cooked beans to add some protein and texture to my salad. And that sweet earthiness you get from great heirloom beans. Goes great with the crunchy sweet moistness of incredibly fresh, organic greens.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the beans in the dressing and let them sit for a few minutes. This is Way too much dressing for the beans, but it’s going to cover your greens, too. When you add the lettuces, toss everything very thoroughly. Not ten seconds of tossing. A full minute or two. So the greens are evenly glossed and you don’t have a small pool of dressing at the bottom of your bowl.
This romaine is truly sweet. So much flavor you think of it as a real vegetable, not a leaf that was produced to be a flimsy platform for salad dressing. The red leaf lettuce combines sweetness with sharpness and some sort of minerality. The spring kale is like mild arugula: just slightly peppery and bitter. If your lettuce doesn’t have this kind of flavor, find a Farmers Market near you or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. Meet “my farmers”: Deb and Pete’ll convince you in three minutes flat.
The tartness of the lemon-based dressing really brings out the sweetness of the greens and beans. And the emphatic aroma of the olive oil and herbs makes this salad a complete and completely satisfying main course. Have it with a slice of Jim Lahey’s crunchy, chewy, soulful no-kneading bread. So good there’s no need for butter.
It’s a meal that makes you feel great. Makes you feel like a healthy culinary saint. A saint with a full belly. Better have a glass of wine with this.
Less than $2 for a colossal main course salad that’s sweet, earthy, sharp, bright and amazingly satisfying. With 3 days worth of Vitamin C, 6 days of Vitamin A and 2 weeks of Vitamin K.
$3.25 to mix together McDonald’s tiny Apple & Walnut Salad and their equally tiny Side Salad with Caesar dressing. Ounce for ounce, their industrial lettuce is 5 times more expensive than your fresh organic stuff. With 1/12 the Vitamin A, 1/6 the Vitamin C and none of the Vitamin K. Way Better is Way Cheaper.
Let’s Do The Math
1 hour to walk off your huge, delicious salad’s 320 calories (they’re all in the dressing and the beans). One hour plus 20 minutes to walk off the 420 calories in McDonald’s tiny and very badly dressed salads.
Every Thing Is Everything
This study in The Journal of The American Dietetic Association finds that vegetarian diets help weight management without compromising nutrition. “… vegetarians have lower body mass index than nonvegetarians, suggesting that vegetarian diet plans may be an approach for weight management. However, a perception exists that vegetarian diets are deficient in certain nutrients … Mean intakes of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron were higher for all vegetarians than for all non-vegetarians “