In the past, I could be described as a picky eater. The kind of picky eater that most parents dread. Here are just a few of the foods that I despised and refused to eat…
Beets: It took me nearly 28 years to even try a beet. 28 years! Now, I enjoy beets regularly in a morning smoothie, or even mixed with a leafy green salad.
Avocados: There’s something about the soft texture and bland flavor of avocados that just sends my tastebuds into panic mode. After years of experimenting with avocados, I’ve found that I actually love avocados when prepared in certain ways: mashed with lemon juice and salt and then spread over toast or large rice crackers, made into guacamole, or blended into a smoothie.
Olives: My only exposure to olives as a child was the black olives on the veggie delight pizza my parents would religiously order from Pizza Hut. These tiny circles on top of what should have been so pleasurable a food never sat well with me, so I avoided all olives up until a just few years ago. Now I enjoy olives on salads, as snacks, and add them to savory dinner meals.
The list could go on and on. In fact, at one point in my early adult life I would have been perfectly content to live off white bread, chicken nuggets, and cereal. Oh how far I’ve come! (If you’re a parent to a “picky eater”, don’t give up! Keep serving good food. There’s hope.)
What changed my mind about these foods and many others? What curbed my picky taste? The answer is simple: experimentation
Preparing food at home — and using real ingredients to prepare food — helped me realize there’s more than one way to prepare a particular food. As I learned and experimented with simple food preparation techniques like roasting or adding an acid to food to increase the flavor, my desire to try a variety of foods, prepared in a variety of ways, increased. And you know what? I soon found that I loved many of the foods I once deemed utterly inedible.
I hope this serves an encouragement to you: Don’t be afraid to prepare food in a variety of ways. If you don’t love one method, try another. There are a variety of delicious ways to eat a beet, leafy green, avocado, olive, or whatever food you may not love at the moment due to a one-time experience. Saute, roast, blend, or season and salt those ingredients. Keep experimenting.
Whether you love olives or view them as an enemy, I think you’re going to love today’s salad. That is, if you’re willing to experiment and give it a try.
This recipe uses the technique of roasting to build the flavorful base of potatoes and olives. The high temperature of the oven, along with the oil, salt, and garlic, bring out the best in the flavor and texture in both the potatoes and olives. After roasting the potatoes, olives, and garlic, the still-warm ingredients are tossed with spicy arugula, and acidic and fresh lemon juice and zest.
This warm salad with wilted arugula pairs well with any main protein: chicken, fish, burgers, steak, pork chops, etc. I usually serve the salad alongside a roasted whole chicken for a hearty, low-maintenance dinner.
Warm Potato, Olive, and Arugula Salad
- 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes halved
- 3 TB olive oil divided
- 4 garlic cloves mashed and roughly chopped
- 1/2-3/4 tsp salt *
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 4.6 ounce jar Mediterranean olives drained and rinsed**
- 1 1/2 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1 TB lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Place the potatoes on a sheet pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.
- Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes.
- Add the olives, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the potatoes, gently stirring to coat the ingredients in the oil (a metal spatula works well). Return the pan to the oven for 15 minutes, until the garlic is toasty and fragrant, the potatoes are soft, and the olives are warm.
- Spoon the potatoes, olives, garlic, and olive oil remaining on the sheet pan into a large bowl. Add the arugula and squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Toss to combine the ingredients. Top with the lemon zest. Serve warm. The arugula will wilt.