Spring Salad with Basilicious Dressing

It’s supposed to be spring.  Instead it’s -7 degrees Celsius.  In fail of greenery without, this salad generates a healthy portion of it within.  And the dressing is magnificent.  While I remain biased in favour of my own cooking – the vibrant blend of herbs and citrus that smothers a variety of vegetables and grains along with the occasional sweetness of a plump raisin: it’s magic for the mouth.  Just try it and see.

Yield: 3-4 servings as a main, 6-8 as a side; 1 cup of dressing if you would rather forego the salad and spoon the dressing over cooked grains, sauce it in wraps or drizzle it over vegetables

What you need for the salad (along with cooking and prep notes):

  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in water for several hours (until plump) and drained
  • 3 cups cooked couscous or quinoa (about 1 cup dry that’s been cooked up and cooled)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, lightly steamed and then cooled (they should still be crunchy and bright green)
  • 4 cups kale, torn up, wilted and then cooled (when the broccoli has about a minute or two of steaming left to it, dump the kale on top, cover, and turn off the heat – that should wilt it without cooking the crap out of it)
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced

What you need for the dressing:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped fresh Thai basil (or regular basil, but the Thai is a real treat)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 scallion, both white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 stick lemongrass, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive or flax oil (if you aren’t used to flax oil, go olive – flax takes some getting used to for the uninitiated)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup

What you do for the dressing:

  1. Blend everything together in a high-speed blender or personal blending unit.  If you use a regular blender, have at it for a while, letting the motor rest between blending sessions – since the lemongrass and herbs need a lot of energy to be broken down into smooth creaminess.

What you do for the salad:

  1. Make sure all the ingredients are room temperature or cool.  If desired, the grains and broccoli can be cooked the day before and the raisins soaked overnight.  Ideally, wilt the kale relatively soon before serving.   DSCN1227
  2. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Add the dressing (yes, the whole cup of it) and mix well until the grains are a nice and uniform green.
  4. Serve.

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