A Bite Inspired by… The Secret Garden (1911 novel):
Looking for a light and healthy salad that’s super easy to make? You’ve come to the right place! My “Healthiest Garden Salad” recipe, inspired by “The Secret Garden”, has a delicious, no oil dressing that delivers bold flavors through the use of fresh herbs. Serve as a side salad or add a simple, grilled protein to create the perfect entree! This post also contains instructions for night-before meal prep, so you can get a healthy dinner on the table even faster!
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“The Secret Garden” is one of my all-time favorite stories. I’ve not only read the original novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett more than once, I’ve also watched the movie and seen the musical. It’s just such a magical and whimsical story that was way ahead of its time. Burnett broaches important topics, such as chronic illness and depression, that were taboo to discuss publicly during the early 1900s when the story was written. Her story has had a lasting impact on children and adults alike for generations, and now it’s the inspiration for my latest recipe.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, here’s the basic premise. A young girl named Mary Lennox moves to England to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven. Mary is extremely surly and spoiled, while her uncle is in a severe depression following the death of his wife. Mary befriends Mr. Craven’s son, Colin, who suffers from a spinal problem, and the two of them work together to bring his late mother’s garden back to life. The garden becomes a safe-haven for the children, helps to restore Colin’s health, and brings solace to the family. My summary doesn’t really do the story justice, but you get the picture.
My recipe inspired by “The Secret Garden” is a delicious garden salad that will make you feel the same way Mary and Colin felt when they were in his mother’s garden: rejuvenated, refreshed, and extremely healthy! It has a variety of fresh from the garden vegetables: baby romaine, carrots, radishes, and alfalfa sprouts. These veggies are light, but extremely nutritious. Plus, the salad doesn’t get its flavors from a really oily, heavy dressing. Instead, following in the spirit of the secret garden, it gets its delicious taste from a variety of fresh herbs. That’s right– this recipe has absolutely NO OIL. There’s nothing in this salad, except for the garden itself (and a splash of balsamic vinegar!) The balsamic vinegar gives the dressing an earthy, slighty sweet complexity (I like MiaBella Balsamic Vinegar.) This salad is so delicious, even hard-to-please Mary Lennox would approve (I hope!)
This recipe serves 4 people as a side salad, but it’s also super easy to turn it into an entree salad for 2 people . Just add a grilled protein like chicken, tofu, or steak! Adding a protein creates a healthy, simple, and surprisingly, filling meal. It can be really hard to stay healthy during the weekdays, when you’re tired and feeling lazy. That’s the beauty of this recipe– you can do nearly all the prep work the night before!
The night before:
- Slice the radishes and carrots. Put them in a tight container (no air!) and place in the fridge.
- Chop up the herbs and place them in a freezer bag. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed and put it in the fridge.
- Marinate your protein and refrigerate. I love using Stubb’s Marinades. They’re super easy and so SO delicious!
The day of:
- Grill your protein.
- Assemble the salad with your pre-cut veggies.
- Make the dressing.
- Toss the salad and top with your protein.
If you follow this method, you can have a healthy dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. This salad means that healthy weekday eating is in your grasp– no more excuses! 😉
No matter how you choose to eat it, this salad will make you feel like you’re in the secret garden with Mary and Colin regaining your health and your youth with every bite you take. Enjoy!
- For the salad:
- 5 ounces baby romaine
- 5 large radishes, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 ounce alfalfa sprouts (about 1 cup)
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
- Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl. Stir well.
- Add dressing to the salad. Toss well. Enjoy!