Everything Green for Saint Patrick’s Day – and Your Health

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Green for Spring:  Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Instead of wearing green for Saint Patrick’s Day, I suggest eating green.  While cooked cabbage may be a tradition for some, I favor something fresher.  Bright and crisp, curly or straight, greens are a promise of spring and a good bet for boosting your health. 

My recipe is inspired by the “Everything Green” salad at one of my favorite Seattle restaurants, The Pink Door.  I look forward to eating their salad every spring at an annual lunch ritual with a couple of my dearest friends.  As I remember, the Pink Door salad includes butter lettuce, asparagus tips, fava beans and pistachio nuts, enrobed in a creamy tarragon dressing. 

Following is my version of Everything Green Salad.  Fava beans were not in my market yet so I used spring peas along with butter lettuce, baby kale, asparagus, shaved fennel and pistachio nuts.  The tarragon dressing and pistachios are a must but you can easily substitute blanched edamame, green garbanzo beans, broccoli florets or bias-cut green beans for the peas and asparagus – and any tender leafy greens can be used as a base. Compose the salad or toss it all together in a more casual fashion.   

Leafy greens (the darker the better) supply nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K, folate and dietary fiber. Dark green vegetables are so nutrient-rich that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 USDA Food Patterns includes recommendations for how much  to include in your diet each week.  For a 2000 calorie diet aim you should for 1 1/2 cups of dark green veggies per week; if you need more calories you need more vegetables, too.

Green leafy vegetables are also a source of phytochemicals such saponins, flavonoids, and the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.  These phytochemicals may prevent or slow cancer cell growth by controlling hormones, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and acting as antioxidants.  (Reference 1)

Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale have other health-promoting phytochemicals called indoles, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates.  Asparagus supplies vitamins C, A, folate and the antioxidants glutathione and rutin.  (Reference 2)

Green peas, considered a “starchy vegetable” like potatoes, are not nutrient lightweights.  A 3 ounce serving supplies about 5 grams of protein along with dietary fiber, thiamin, vitamin C and folate. 

Eat Green – today and everyday!


1. Foods That Fight Cancer – Leafy Vegetables


2.Phytochemicals: The Cancer Fighters in the Foods We Eat http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=elements_phytochemicals


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Everything Green Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Creamy Tarragon Dressing

2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 anchovies, drained

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

4 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons light or regular prepared mayonnaise

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In blender jar combine vinegar, anchovies, shallot, parsley, tarragon and mustard.  Blend until finely chopped, scraping down jar as needed.  Add mayonnaise and oil; blend just until creamy and smooth. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Refrigerate in a covered container until serving time.  Makes about 1/2 cup.

Everything Green Salad

12 ounces asparagus, hard end of stems snapped off and discarded

1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1 small to medium head butter or red leaf lettuce, rinsed and dried

1 cup baby kale leaves, stems removed and discarded

1/2 cup thinly shaved fennel bulb

1/4 cup roasted pistachios

Cut asparagus on the bias.   Blanch in boiling salted water for a minute or two, until tender crisp.  Drain, rinse with ice cold water and drain again.  Repeat blanching and draining with green peas.  Chill asparagus and peas until serving time.   Remove 4 large leaves of butter lettuce and place on 4 salad plates.  Tear remaining leaves into bite-size pieces; place in a bowl with kale leaves, peas and fennel. Toss with 4 tablespoons of the dressing.  Spoon onto the lettuce-lined plates.  Top with asparagus pieces and sprinkle with pistachios.  Makes 4 servings.   

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2013

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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