Healthy Beginnings

Healthy Recipe: Try a refreshing beet salad to suit any party size

Truckee Tavern recommends using seasonal ingredients, like these chioggia beets, in your summer salad. Photo: Courtesy Truckee Tavern & Grill

Planning for a large group gathering can become a headache quickly, causing the host to opt for premade, prepackaged party offerings that are often overpriced.

In an attempt to save time, we often sacrifice freshness and nutrition, something that the experts say shouldn’t be the case.

“Just because food is expensive doesn’t make it high quality,” explained sous chef Nate Lapating from Truckee Tavern & Grill (truckeetavern.com).

Your ingredients’ price tag is often indicative of its name-brand store carrier, rather than what’s actually in the bottle or the bag. The trick is to search for the freshest options, not necessarily the fancy name.

Lapating suggests checking your local farmer’s markets to find fresh foods that you can usually find for affordable prices. His next recommendation is to keep it simple and stay true to natural flavors.

“You don’t need to have lots of ingredients in a dish to make it taste amazing, because too many ingredients can muddle the flavors,” the sous chef said.

His recommendation for a warm weather meal that will wow the crowd, while also taking into account their best nutritional interest, is a fresh salad with plenty of vegetables.

For this rendition, Lapating suggests grilling chicken as your protein topping. If you visit in-house, the restaurant’s original recipe features delicious brined smoked pork and a house-made Dijon vinaigrette.

Truckee Tavern Salad, available on the lunch menu

Ingredients:

  • Combination of mixed greens and gem lettuce
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced apples
  • Shaved fennel
  • Grilled chicken
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Vinaigrette of your choice

Method:

The beauty of this dish is that it can be made to suit your party size for any warm weather daytime occasion. Serve it small as a side salad or go heavy-handed on the lettuce and toppings to feed a larger party as your main course.

Grill your chicken and hard-boil eggs ahead of time so you have prepared toppings to work with for your guests.

Slice your cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes and apples, and then shave fennel atop your bed of washed mixed greens. Arrange sliced grilled chicken and hard-boiled egg on top and drizzle with a light vinaigrette.

Simple Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard

Add all ingredients to a bowl or Mason jar, add salt and pepper to taste, whisk or shake until fully incorporated, and serve over salad.

Cassandra Walker is a special assignments reporter for Sierra Nevada Media Group. She can be reached at cwalker@swiftcom.com.