If you’ve enjoyed the heat and extreme humidity in Chicago these past few days, then bless your little heat-loving heart. If you know me, even just a teensy bit, then you know that I turn into an utter “crankster” on days like these and do everything I can fathom to dodge the heat. Weather like this does not call for heavy, heated, richly-delectable meals. Weather like this calls for a revitalizing and refreshingly-crisp salad.
I left class yesterday evening dreading my trek to Trader Joe’s. Why? Because of the heat! Like I said, I am constantly providing myself with excuses as to why I should avoid doing anything outside but sitting in an ice-bath of a pool with a piña colada in hand whenever the thermometer pushes 95°. Although hesitant, the thought of another evening with a barren fridge was too disheartening to allow. More intriguing than that was the bribery coming from the list of ingredients for this recipe: "If you buy us and make this salad, we will cool and delight you." So, I made my rounds at the store and hauled all three, way-too-heavy-to-make-it-to-the-L bags to a cab who then speedily (maybe a little too speedily) got me back home.
After carefully compiling the grapes, arugula, and sunflower seeds in my favorite wooden salad bowl, I vigorously whisked the dressing and gently poured it over the greens. While the list of ingredients in this salad appeared overly simplified, the combination of bright flavors quickly moved this recipe from "trial" to "keeper" in my book. The arugula's peppery bite is well-complimented by the sweet burst of flavor from the grapes, the salty-nuttiness of the sunflower seeds, and the tangy pleasantries of the dressing. This salad will take a hot day and make it cool.
Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad with Agave Nectar Dressing
Adapted from Cooking Light
3 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1.5 tsp Agave Nectar (may substitute honey)
1 tsp Maple Syrup
½ tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Olive Oil
7 cups Loosely Packed Baby Arugula
2 cups Red Grapes, Halved
2 tbsp Salted Sunflower Kernals
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
1. Whisk together vinegar, agave nectar, maple syrup, and dijon mustard. Gradually add olive oil while whisking.
2. Combine arugula, grapes, and sunflower seeds in bowl. Gently pour vinegar mixture over greens, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
3. Enjoy the cool.