All roads lead to Vinaigrette in Santa Fe these days, especially if you are on the healthy food trail. When owner Erin Wade opened the casual, salad-centric restaurant, it became an instant hit. So she opened a second in Albuquerque and plans for a third are in the works. “Salads are perfectly emblematic of the sweet spot between health and pleasure,” says Wade. “They are beautiful to look at, packed with flavor and texture and yet nutritious and light.”
Wade spent a year in Italy where she was influenced by the idea that eating healthfully is part of the joy of eating, not its deterrent. “When I moved to New Mexico and began farming, I found that I was making all sorts of creative, satisfying salads for myself and friends,” she says. “It wasn’t a long leap from there to the idea for a restaurant that put salads at the center of the plate!”
The Harvard grad sources most of her produce from her organic farm in nearby Nambé, New Mexico. “During the growing season, we bring in hundreds of pounds of freshly harvested produce every week,” says Wade, “and we return all of our organic food waste back each day to be composted. That intrinsic link between soil and table is something that we don’t just talk about, but consciously connect with and take part in every day.”
Vinaigrette is as green off the plate as on. They recycle, reuse, minimize water waste, rely on energy-efficient kitchen equipment, reclaimed metal and wood design elements. All disposable products are compostable, and all paper goods are 100 percent recycled content. “We are constantly looking for way to think creatively about sustainability,” she says.
Wade is a huge fan of the mustard family plants—arugula, radish, tatsoi and mizuna and all of the Brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage). “Their natural pepperiness, heat and complexity (wasabi and horseradish are also part of this botanical group) never fails to impress me, and because it is so dry in the high desert, the mustards we grow at the farm are especially intense,” she says. “They have a unique flavor profile that is fun to play with in salads, contrasting it with salty or sweet, creamy and crunchy and are bold and tough enough to stand up to bold dressings and goodies.”
Our favorite was the All Kale Caesar, recipe on this page. We would have happily ordered seconds if the portions weren’t so satisfying. Sit in the little backyard under the trees if you can nab a spot. If not, the light bright interior with its clean lines and streamlined decor is a very happy place to be. vinaigretteonline.com
All-Kale Caesar Salad
“Kale is a super food, packed with Vitamin C and other antioxidants,” says Viniagrette owner Erin Wade. “And because it is such a tough, cruciferous green, you need an unusually strong Vinaigrette to soften it.”
Zingy Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette
Juice of 2.5 lemons (or 3)
12 anchovy fillets packed in oil and a little of the oil
2 tablespoons champagne or white vinegar
1 tablespoon creamy dijon mustard
about 1/2 cup olive oil (start with less and add more if needed)
1 tablespoon of water
1 small shallot or half a big one
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients but the shallot in a blender and emulsify. Then chop the shallot and mix it in.
For the salad
1 bunch of curly kale (or Tuscan kale)
1 cup Marcona almonds, chopped
1 to 2 cups grated parmesan
anchovies, to taste
Finely chop the leafy part of the green curly kale (strip each leaf off the main stem) or, if you prefer, the darker green, and even more nutritious Tuscan Kale.
Because kale is on the tougher side, chop the leaves fairly fine, more like a coleslaw, in order to expose a lot of surface area where the dressing can absorb and soften. Add almonds, a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese, and vinaigrette, to taste.
Toss with more rough chopped anchovies, depending on how much you love their briny punch (they are very high in Vitamin D) and enjoy!
Unlike most salads that need to be served immediately, this salad actually improves for a while after, as the dressing works its magic!
Organic Bloody Mary
The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento sources locally and uses organic ingredients. We fell in love with their Organic Bloody Mary, a very veggie drink with a hint of lemon and spice, made with an organic small-batch bloody Mary mix from Preservation & Co. theredrabbit.net, preservationandco.com
The Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University found that American portions exceed the FDA’s serving size guidelines by 200 calories more per day! Portion size is key to controlling weight gain, which is why Slim & Sage founder Tatyana Daniels Beldock relied on research from the Director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Stanford University to create these pretty nine-inch plates, with easy-to-eyeball quadrants: one for lean protein, one for whole grains and two for vegetables. Two percent of profits are donated toward childhood obesity research. slimandsage.com
J.R. Watkins, the company famous for personal-care and home-care remedies, has just spiced up its gourmet food line with 52 new natural herbs and spices. A pinch of Cardamom perks up our morning cup of coffee, a sprinkle of Curry Powder enlivens potato salad, a pinch of Saffron deepens the flavor of our seafood stew, and Madagascar Vanilla Bean shaved over frozen yogurt is simply delicious. jrwatkins.com
When the world is in bloom, it’s time to reach for a light, refreshing organic flower tea. Try Hibiscus, a tart zingy flavor loaded with vitamin C; chamomile with Lavenderto soothe an upset stomach; Echinacea Plus to boost immunity; or dandelion root, a detoxing blend to help stimulate the liver and calm digestion. traditionalmedicinals.com