I’ve been in a state of denial about the coming of our Texas summer. It’s been a spring of multiple cold-snaps and intermittent days of cool breezes coupled with sunshine. I was lulled into complacency, even going so far as to make crock pot meals and stews as late as mid-May (almost unthinkable in years past).
But now it has hit. The intense Texas humidity, heat, and mosquitoes are here until early October, so I am embracing it with sunscreen in one hand and insect repellent in the other.
That leaves no hands free for cooking.
It’s ok; I’m too hot to be too hungry. Hence I’m eschewing all cooking and making a main-dish green salad instead. It’s loaded with summer vegetables, hearty beans, crunchy whole grain croutons and a special dressing: fresh lemon chia seed dressing with a bit of thyme.
I’m leery of most creamy dressings, save for yogurt or tahini ones I make myself; but I dislike vinaigrettes that roll right off the lettuce into the bottom of the bowl. Mustard is my go-to for achieving the perfect “cling,” but a new favorite has emerged: chia seed dressing.
When soaked in a bit of liquid, chia seeds take on a gel-like consistency; in simple salad dressings like this one, it adds subtle thickness, perfect when you want a low-oil dressing. The tiny seeds are dark, reminiscent of poppy seeds; we all need more polka dots in our lives, so this is a lovely bonus.
This humble saald is far greater than the sum of its parts. Enjoy not cooking, and here’s to summer!
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- 8 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 medium-large tomato, diced
- 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 15-ounce can white beans (any variety), rinsed and drained
- 1 small yellow, orange or red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 cup diced or sliced cucumber
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought whole grain croutons (optional)
- Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, water and chia seeds; let stand 15 to 20 minutes until thickened. Add the agave nectar, oil, and thyme, whisking until blended; season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Salad: In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, tomato, avocado, beans, bell pepper, and cucumber. Add the dressing, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with croutons and serve.