If you asked the average joe today what he thinks about salad, ten to one odds are he says something about “healthy.”
I’m a 1980s baby, a Millennial, a product of the decade marked by thick shoulder pads and Jell-O Pudding Pops commercials. And what I remember most about the salads throughout my childhood is that there weren’t many.
My school cafeteria had Pizza Day and Hot Dog Day. By the time I was a senior in high school, when I was the one running to Aldi to grab the cheapest versions of buns and chips and candy bars for us to resell, I was never picking up greens or vegetables, or even fruit.
Who would buy them, especially when they could get a giant bottle of Coke for less?
Besides that, salads were considered rabbit food – crunchy and raw, the sort of thing you needed to chomp at before you could swallow – and they couldn’t fill you up like the burgers we made on grill day or the bread-heavy pizzas we enjoyed each week, right?
You’d eat salad if you were dieting. Maybe they went nicely with your aerobics plan. In the years of Richard Simmons’s dance moves and Suzanne Somers’s thighs, aerobics was a pretty big deal.
Of course, as I am still shocked to realize, the ’80s were over 30 years ago. And high school feels even further gone than that.
While Tim and I were in Chicago recently, we spent the day with my friend Jackie who used to have a locker under mine, sometime in 1997 or ’98, I think. She was in eighth grade, and I was a sophomore at our small private school.
We headed to Chipotle for lunch, and there three out of four of us ate big bowls of greens. This was our choice, not a punishment, entree salads that comprised the sort of thing we actually like to eat today.
So sure, salad’s come a long way in my lifetime. Me back in 1994 and today’s me have precious little in common in terms of what our typical diet consists of each week.
We all know that today there are restaurants wholly devoted to salad, raw veggie buffets, entire sections of salads on most menus at most sit-down restaurants. If you go to Google and type “salad,” there are over 21 million results brought up in less than a minute (781 million results in under a second as of the time of this update to my original article, in 2019).
Over 80% of Americans eat at least one bowl of leafy greens and fresh veggies a week, says the USDA. Most fast food restaurants offer salads on their menus, catering, at least in theory if not in actuality, to people looking for a healthier way to eat.
If there’s one thing people today seem to know about salad, it’s that it’s good for you, the thing you pick when you care about your body and your health, and you want something fresh.
Here is my only problem with that: I know what it’s like to do and consume things, like fresh and raw veggies, because I think that I should, not because there’s anything particularly alluring about the idea to my heart.
The former me, the one with big bangs and braces, and an affinity for clothes sold at Abercrombie, ate greens when I was forced to, when my mom put them on the table or when my peers were first claiming salad was a virtuous choice.
Some people are good at things like that; I’m not. So when I hear people talk about the health perks of salad, when I talk about the health benefits, I wonder if there’s something of a disservice going on. Leafy greens, like all fresh produce, are more than nutritious.
Salad is more than just low in calories, and high in vitamins and minerals that make your body well. Made with different veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, and fungi, they can also be delicious.
When you find the right combination of textures and flavors, like a triple berry salad or a leafy sprouts salad with a sweet and spicy homemade vinaigrette, it doesn’t have to be a chore to get through. It can be a thing to savor.
Salad can fill you up.
And while the former me ate leafy greens only when I had to, the present me often debates between salad and something else on a menu because I find so much pleasure in a colorful, tall stack of vegetables on my plate.
Case in point: this peach and corn salad. It’s a seasonal celebration that I don’t have to fake affection for, every day marveling at the fierce sunlight and blistering heat and the way these things make the world around us grow, providing us with fresh and delicious produce.
Just like it is good to want to eat food that nourishes our bodies because it nourishes our bodies, so too it is good (better!) to want to eat it because we also want to eat it, because we like it, because it tastes good, and because when we eat it, we are delighted.
Today, that delight keeps us coming back, over and over again, to serve up another salad on our plates.Print
Make the most of the best summer flavors with this outstanding peach and corn salad, with fresh mint and lime. It’s ideal for lunch.
- 2 ears sweet corn, shucked
- 1 small bunch leaf lettuce (about 4 cups finely chopped)
- 2 ripe large peaches, sliced (or 4 small)
- Juice of 2 limes (2-3 tsp)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 10 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium-sized pot at least the width of your corn cobs with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add corn and cook until kernels are firm but tender, or to the doneness you like, about 3-5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, mint, salt, and pepper until combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Set aside.
- Wash lettuce and spin in a salad spinner if you have one. If not, allow to dry in a colander.
- Place chopped lettuce in a large wooden salad bowl.
- Transfer corn to a cutting board and slice off the kernels.
- Add corn to the bowl of greens. Add sliced peaches, then drizzle the dressing over the top. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Boiling
- Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keywords: peach, corn, lettuce, salad, lime, mint, vegetarian
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Remove the husks and silk from 2 ears of sweet corn.
Chop 1 small bunch of leaf lettuce. You should have about 4 cups of chopped lettuce total.
Juice 2 limes. You should have about 2-3 teaspoons total.
Finely chop 10 leaves of fresh mint.
Measure out the remaining ingredients as they are listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Cook
Fill a medium-sized pot with water, making sure the pot is at least the width of your corn cobs. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Once it’s boiling, add the corn and cook it until the kernels are firm, but tender. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
Step 3 – Make Dressing
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, as desired.
Step 4 – Assemble
Wash the lettuce. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, or allow it to drop dry in a colander.
Add the lettuce to a large salad bowl.
When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife on a sturdy cutting board. Place them in the bowl.
Add the sliced peaches. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss to coat well.
This Is How We Summer
When it comes to summer, it’s all about the balance between grilled delicious meats and light, fit salads, isn’t it? We all want to enjoy the flavors of summer, making the most of the freshness and everything the great outdoors has to offer.
However, many of us are also concerned about fitting into our swimsuits through the end of the season. That’s why this recipe is ideal for bringing out when you need to lighten up your summer diet, without sacrificing any flavor.
For more fun salads, check out the following vegetarian recipes:
- Grilled Veggie Salad with Tahini Dressing
- Fried Tofu with Charred Green Bean Salad
- Asparagus Broccoli Salad
- Fresh Berries and Spinach Salad
- Einkorn Salad with Radicchio and Walnuts
- Arugula Dijon Salad with Figs and Pistachios
What excites you more about this salad – the peaches, the fresh corn, or the mint and lime dressing? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back to rate the recipe after you’ve tried it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 14, 2014. Last updated: December 30, 2019 at 18:40 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.