Lunch of the Month: Whole Foods

— By Design Furniture & Interior Design presents dsmDining —

The recipe: Take one bowl, add several freshly made salads, plus random ingredients. Yields one happy diner.

By Wini Moranville

If I could change one thing about our dining scene, it would be to make it easier to find truly life-enhancing salads at lunch. Aside from a handful of exceptions (such as an admirable kale salad at Scenic Route Bakery, my beloved fried egg salad at Cool Basil and a killer Brussels sprouts salad at Table 128), many are variations on the same theme: some kind of protein (chicken, salmon, crab cakes) angled over a carpet of lettuce and predictable trimmings. Beyond that, how many Greek, Caesar, Cobb and chop salads out there can you truly get excited about?

And so. On one of those hot and humid days, when I was craving something cool, crunchy, diverse and off the beaten path, I landed at Whole Foods. What a windfall! And what a price! The salad bar is priced by weight, and for about $7, I got a bowlful of sparkling and varied prepared salads. These included a delicately diced mix of marinated cucumbers with red onions, an almond-flecked Napa cabbage slaw and some nutty sesame noodles. Especially notable was the way each salad was expertly dressed in a way that made the ingredients slick and well coated without being wilted or drippy. Even the kale salad offered a certain finesse that the rough-hewn green rarely attains.

You can also add all kinds of extra ingredients, such as chopped egg or tuna, fresh mushrooms, asparagus, roasted beats, and crunchy snow peas. Better yet, every pan in the salad bar brims with the kind fresh, high-quality ingredients the natural grocers are known for (i.e., no hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives).

I loved poking around a few roasted beets here, some crunchy snow peas there, along with a delicate dice of cucumbers and red onions, an almond-flecked Napa cabbage slaw, some nutty sesame noodles.

Whole Foods is at 4100 University Ave., West Des Moines; 515-343-2600; 

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook atAll Things Food–DSM.

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— By Design Furniture & Interior Design presents dsmDining —