Spring Salads

The Hubs and I eat A LOT of salad. Like, a lot. A lot lot. Everyday almost.

So, it’s a happy day when I can start buying fresh salad greens and fixins from the farmers market, after eating store-bought organic mix during the winter months.

And it’s a really, really happy day when I am finally harvesting everything to make a salad right from the backyard.

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So much arugula.

After a slow start, my spring veggies are coming in at full force now. The problem is that it’s time to put my summer veggies out, and I don’t have any place to put them yet. I don’t want to take out the spring vegetables until they run their course fully.

In the meantime, we’re eating really local when it comes to salads for lunch.

IMG_3099The greens and radishes are from the delicious potager and the green onions are from my father in law’s garden. I save the scraps and trimmings in my countertop composter, and empty it into my composter in the backyard when it gets fully or stinky. Then, after the compost is ready, I just put it back on my garden. The ultimate recycling.

What else do we put on these salads?

Goat or feta cheese crumbles. Now that it’s grilling season, we’ve enjoyed some leftover steak on them, too. I love steak, but in moderation. I cut my serving down to around six ounces, and save the rest for salad for lunch.

Now the tricky part–salad dressing. Store bought dressings are fraught with sodium, fat and nasty ingredients like artificial color and preservatives. I’ve discovered that everything you need to make homemade delicious dressing is stuff you can find in your pantry already.

With steak, I like balsamic vinaigrette.  It can be as simple as equal parts of balsamic vinegar and good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Or you can jazz it up, by adding chopped herbs or garlic.

One of the Hubs’s favorite is honey mustard. It’s super easy also. Combine in a jar, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard, 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar and a tiny pinch of salt if you prefer. Mix well with a fork until combined.

You can play around with vinaigrettes by using different vinegars and oils. I like cider vinegar with extra virgin olive oil, and tarragon and garlic. Use a little bit of tarragon, though, as the flavor is pretty strong.

And, when you buy a one-quart container of buttermilk for a recipe that calls for only half a cup, use what’s left for buttermilk ranch dressing. It’s easier than you think. Combine about 3/4 a cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of either mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt. Then add chopped dill, garlic and salt and pepper.

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Not too shabby for a brown bag lunch.

Once you try homemade dressing and see 1) how much better it tastes, 2) how easy it is, and 3) how much cheaper it is, I guarantee you won’t miss store-bought at all. I don’t usually keep buttermilk on hand, but when I have some leftover, it makes my salad extra special.

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black seeded simpson lettuce and some mesclun mix

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arugula

The arugula is almost done. Some of the plants are beginning to bolt. I’ve planted arugula before, but never had a crop this successful. I’m not complaining though. It’s one of my favorite greens. So spicy!

I even thinned out more of my beets and kale, and added the thinned leaves I picked to the salad greens. No sense in wasting those tender baby greens.

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radishes and blue scotch curly kale

 

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