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Fresh, healthy salads

5 Outa This World Santa Fe Restaurant Picks

We’ve had a little traditional and classic style, a mishmash of old world and Spanish tapas, family style southwestern, but what we haven’t hit yet is a haven for the vegans and vegetarians among us. Vinaigrette is just the stops for the healthy conscious eaters and given how many heavy dishes we had in the South en route to New Mexico, Vinaigrette was a welcome retreat.

As foodies or those who have done restaurant reviews know, as delicious and organic of a dish a restaurant chef can churn out, when you dine out night after night, you begin to crave nothing but a simple salad from time-to-time.

Vinaigrette, located in a completely different part of town (for variety — be sure to explore all neighborhoods of Santa Fe, not just the tourist ones) gives you so many salad choices, so many that it took us a half an hour to devour the menu before we placed our order.
You name the lettuce, they have it and it’s all organic. Of course, they have the classic salads, like Cobb, Greek, Garden, Caesar, French Frisee and Spinach, but it’s what you can do with them that makes this place so interesting. They suggest a topping to your salad – examples include Seared Diver Scallops over a Spinach Mushroom Salad, Pork Tenderloin over a Garden Salad, Grilled Shrimp over a Greek Salad, Hibiscus Duck Confit over a French Frisee salad and so on.

Of course for the non meat eaters, you can simply leave off the meat – there are plenty of delicious veggie sides as well including grilled marinated baby artichokes, roasted vegetables and grilled tofu.

Before we even got started, I had to try the simple but oh so good Sauteed Kale, which they served with garlic and ginger.

Other great starters and sides include Celery Root Mash, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Eggplant Parmesan (an old favorite of mine from childhood) and Fried Kale fritters. While they also offer a variety of sandwiches on their menu as well (roasted veggie, classic reubens and tuna melts, pork shoulder and hot turkey), salads are the order of the day at this cute and simple but happily decorated restaurant.

Who said that salad had to taste or LOOK boring? The chef here clearly disagrees.

Since we barely had any soups on our journey, we decided to taste a couple – they had a delicious Cajun Gumbo as well as a Mushroom Stew, which was loaded with forest, button and porcini mushrooms. (vegan friendly).

They also have something on their menu called Signature Salads, which is about a dozen salads with varying types of lettuce and protein toppings. You can mix and match however, adding a Lemon-Herb Chicken Breast, Flank Steak, Pork Tenderloin or Duck Confit (traditional meat offerings), or seafood (Seared Tuna Steak, Diver Scallops, Sauteed Shrimp or the fish of the day).

The below “Beet Goes On” Salad recommended Grilled Artichoke Hearts as its topping, however I went with seared tuna on mine. This fresh baby greens and arugula blended salad was tossed with a tangy goat cheese, chopped pistachios and balsamic roasted beets and then topped with a honey-balsmic vinaigrette.

I also swapped out my dressing however and went for the cumin honey-lime vinaigrette instead. On the side, I sampled a few of their dressings and stand-outs include the tangy lemon-dill vinaigrette (yum!!) and the hibiscus vinagrette, which they typically serve over their Arugula Duck Salad (goat cheese, arugula and balsamic roasted pears).

They offer wine and beer, but given our mood that night and trying lighter dishes overall, we opted for a few of their freshly made non-alcoholic signature drinks.

While I failed to take any photos of any of these pours, be prepared for your mouth to water as you imagine a Ginger Turmeric Tonic, served with ginger and carrot juice, lemon and seltzer. It was surprisingly refreshing and btw, for those of you with aches and pains, both turmeric and ginger act as a great anti-inflammatory. Also worth testing out is the Golden Beet & Pear Spritz, which is a blend of pressed golden beets and pear juice with fresh ginger syrup and sparkling water.

After eating (and drinking) such healthy options, it makes it easier to lose the guilt when it comes to ordering dessert. How can you say no to this organic chocolate delight and freshly made carrot cake?

They call themselves an eco-friendly eatery and they deliver what they preach. Seventy percent of the organic produce served in Vinaigrette during peak season is grown on owner Erin Wade’s bucolic, 10-acre farm – Los Portales – in Nambé, New Mexico, about 20 minutes north of Santa Fe.

After renovating the 300-year old adobe farmhouse, Erin began to clear the land, nourish the soil and learn the art of farming. She read voraciously about how to farm organically and the even trickier task of doing it in the high desert with its short growing season, clay-based soil, and non-existent humidity.

To extend the farms growing capacities into the fall and winter months, Erin and her family installed a 1,200 square-foot greenhouse that is bursting with micro-greens, herbs and other cool-season delights in the winter and a jungle of tomatoes and hot house crops in the summer. And, how cool is this? Food waste from the restaurant is brought back to Los Portales where it is either fed to the plump farm pigs or composted in a network of worm-filled “vermiculture” piles.

Two thumbs up! We would gladly return to this gem of a find – thanks John for the heads up!! My only regret is that we were so tired and so full that we couldn’t try more of their farm-to-table offerings and hang out for a little longer.

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