In a culinary sense, there’s a lot to be said for spring – all the fresh new greens, zippy young ramps, asparagus sprouts, tangy rhubarb stalks, earthy morels, and a preponderance of peapods.
Fall also has its high points. I can’t deny the appeal the apple season, the rich butternut squashes, the cool autumn mushrooms, fresh cranberry chutneys, and sweet potato pie.
But for variety and straight-from-the-farmers-market freshness, you really can’t beat late July through early September.
Fresh beets, candy-sweet corn, five types of plums, six kinds of tomatoes, new potatoes, dill, basil, thyme, parsley, sage, all manner of greens, sweet little carrots, summer squashes, and peaches so juicy, tender, sweet and succulent they drip tangy sticky juice across your face and down your elbow.
There’s too much to list. Too much to try. Too little time to enjoy it all. Ah! Dear, sweet August. What a delicious dilemma!
This is the time of year when you can fairly easily chop nearly everything up and throw it in the same bowl with a little dressing. Boom! It’s a salad.
Throw on some canned beans or cheese or sauteed scallops or leftover steak, and it’s a dinner salad. Get fancy with some seasoned bread cubes and it’s even more hearty.
You are literally eating the season… and since you are what you eat, you are the season. Hello there, August!
Everything From the Farmers Market Salad Serves Two.
For the Dressing 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 1 tsp mustard (the grainy ones are especially nice for this) 1/2 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad Base: 3 cups torn leaf lettuce, arugula, baby spinach or shredded cabbage 1 medium-size cucumber, zucchini and/or kohlrabi, sliced or cubed 1 small beet or carrot (use a vegetable peeler to shave thin strips) 3-4 tomatoes, chopped (or use 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
For the Protein on Top 1/4 cup crumbled feta OR goat cheese OR cubed mozzarella OR your favorite firm cheese (optional) 1/2 can of beans (drained) OR sauteed tofu (optional) 12 small scallops, sauteed OR 1/2 cup cooked steak OR 1/2 cup chicken strips (optional)
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice and mustard, then drizzle in the olive oil while you’re whisking. Add salt/pepper to taste.
Add your lettuce of choice and the rest of the vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle on the dressing and toss it all to coat.
Either arrange on plates or leave it in the big bowl, and sprinkle your cheese and/or proteins of choice on top. Serve your salad with a nice wine and feel really healthy and locavore.