Callie’s Cabin: Springtime garden salad and skinny fries (recipe) |

Callie’s Cabin: Springtime garden salad and skinny fries (recipe)

Cal Orey
Callie’s Cabin

It is the season for lighter foods, including fresh salads. Enter the garden salad. A wide variety of greens can be used, including arugula or baby spinach. A garden salad is perfect for brunch, an appetizer, side dish or main entrée salad for a light dinner. And potatoes, especially French fries, can make slim-down rabbit food filling and fun.

Speaking of joy, last time I was in the Pacific Northwest, I craved a spinach salad and baked potato. The restaurant I chose served me a garden salad with fresh fruit and a basket of over-cooked curly fries. It wasn’t my fantasy.

Memories of my hitchhiking days in the deep South haunted me. When I ordered yogurt and bagels for breakfast I got the same treatment. My server looked at me like I was a creature from another planet. She offered grits and sausage. I passed as I did with the funny salad and taters. Both times I longed to be home where I could eat and enjoy familiar Golden State food without being judged.

The funny thing is, after I returned from my trip to Seattle, I began to crave the garden salad I was served. So, I put together a salad with a California twist. I added a gift of heart healthy walnuts from our central state. I learned that you can acquire a taste for different foods — but sometimes mixing up the new and old works best.

Garden Salad with Spring Fruit

2 cups spring mix (mix of baby lettuces, greens and radicchio)

½ cup Roma tomatoes, diced

¼ cup cucumber, sliced

¼ cup fresh strawberries, sliced (other choices: raspberries, plums)

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup premium blue cheese, crumbled

Balsamic vinaigrette (store bought)

In a bowl, toss vegetables, fruit with lettuce. Top with nuts and cheese. Drizzle with vinegar. Serve salad with fresh warm whole grain French bread slices dipped in extra virgin olive oil or spread with European style butter. Serves two.

Sweet Potato Skinny Fries

2 sweet potatoes, sliced thin (leave skins on)

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons European style butter, melted

Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chives, fresh, chopped

Ketchup or malt vinegar for dipping or drizzling

Place potato slices in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet. Top with garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Put in a 400 degree oven. Turn mixture three or four times. Bake for about 25-30 minutes so fries are golden brown but not overcooked. (As a kid I didn’t like mushy sweet potatoes but as fries with herbs they’re full of flavor and crispy texture.)

A garden salad, like this one, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette instead of a blue cheese dressing or thousand island is different but in a good way. While it took me a while to warm up to fruit and nuts in my salad — it works. And crumbled blue cheese is a nice switch. Of course, I included chamomile tea to complete the springtime recipes. It was a fresh delight to savor in the Sierra and tossed together just the way I like it.

Motto: Traveling is exciting but sometimes foreign foods are strange. Making homemade foods your way from a past journey can whisk you away without leaving your comfort zone.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is

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