06 July 2010

the perfect summer salad

one of my favorite ways to get creative in the kitchen is with seasonal salads. in cooler months i pull together beets and oranges and cranberries and hazelnuts on top of hearty greens. for early summer and late spring, i reach towards colorful vegetables and tender greens to lighten up my dinner plate. there are a few important components to making a seasonal salad - greens, toppings, and dressing. here's my completely versatile and malleable recipe for a summer salad:

leafy greens
light, tender greens go crazy in early summer. there are so many types to choose from, so instead of narrowing it down, i try to throw in as much as possible for a lot of variety. i like a mixture of head lettuce (butter lettuce, green oak lettuce, red oak lettuce), leafy salad mix, and flavorful greens (mustard greens, spinach, arugula). our chard has been really beautiful in the garden, so i throw bits of those leaves in sometimes, too. wash and spin or pat dry all your lettuce, put your greens in a big salad bowl and tear or leave leafs whole, depending on preference.

this part is so fun! work by what's in season and what colors make you happy. i choose easter egg radishes because they are red, pink and purple, young carrots add a sweet crunch, and spring onions for extra flavor. add fresh herbs like basil, chives or even mint and - my favorite - edible flowers.
whereas in winter i grate carrots, in summer i cut them on a diagonal for maximum flavor and a big crunch. cut the radishes in half moons and chop any mixture of sweet onions, chives, green onions or garlic flowers. throw all these goods on top of the lettuce.

everyone has their favorite dressing and i usually tend towards a simple vinaigrette with mustard and honey. here is a shallot vinaigrette that i recently tried from olaiya land catering that was just perfect on top of a bed of lettuce. the recipe she gave is all approximate because dressing should be made to taste.

sherry vinegar (about 1/4 cup)
shallots, finely minced (about 2 tbs)
dijon mustard (about 1 tbs)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch sugar
best-quality extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup)

mix all ingredients but the oil. add oil in thin stream, whisking until emulsified. taste and adjust seasoning
makes 1 cup

really, you can pull anything together and call it a salad. just harvest what is fresh in your garden and experiment with new things at the farmer's market, and remember to get creative!


  1. All I like eating when the weather gets warm is salad...and we're finally, finally entering 'salad days' here - hooray!

  2. Radishes were always my favorite veggie in salads. My brothers and I would eat the skin off and trick each other into thinking we were eating a giant jaw-breaker candy.

  3. Mmmm that dressing sounds perfect! Thank you for posting this, I'm so excited to make some salads with this week's vegetables. I get my box tomorrow : D

  4. this looks absolutely delish!!


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