Saturday, June 09, 2007

Salad Season

When we returned from our trip, we were greeted with exploding gardens. In the vegetable garden, our Speckled Trout Romaine (Forellenschluss) was ready for harvest. Beo was up for trying some salads as our main course, and we have both found them delightful. This is a wonderful lettuce variety and I highly recommend it. Working on the CSA, I learned how to best prepare lettuce. After harvesting, it should be rinsed in a cold water bath as soon as possible. Make sure to use plenty of water so that any debris can float away from freely-moving leaves. Remove the leaves from the water, drain the water, and rinse any dirt or other undesirable material from the sink or rinse container. This process should be done 3 times to get clean leaves. If you don't currently clean your lettuce this way, you will probably understand why you might want to after seeing your rinse water the first two times. I've been using our first rinse water to water plants outside, the second for inside plants, and the third for the dogs water dishes (heck they drink out of puddles in the mud outside) or to fill pots that need to soak. I just use another container to scoop the water out of the sink, or use a large bowl if I only need to wash a small amount of lettuce. After washing, let the lettuce dry (this will help it stay crisp and retain nutrients--use a salad spinner or lay leaves on clean towels), and store it in a ventilated container in the refrigerator.

We started out with some basic salads. Our radishes were ready too, so the basic formula was lettuce, sliced radishes, and nuts. We like almonds, pecans, and walnuts for a little crunch. For extra protein, we often saute some sliced tempeh with a bit of Bragg's Amino Acids. We've also been doing sliced boiled eggs lately. I do not particularly like eating eggs. I have a personal mindset that just puts me off of them. However I've realized that if I want to eat more locally, eggs are far and away my best vegetarian protein source until we have enough land to grow heirloom beans. That's not in the near future, so for now, eggs it is. We enjoyed the beautiful pear, walnut, and goat cheese salad last week. The pear was our last domestic one we had, and I wanted to really highlight it. I was inspired by a salad Beo and I shared when we were at a restaurant in North Carolina.

You may have a favorite dressing recipe, but try something new to spice up your salads. I recently got some Organic Valley Mexican Blend cheese on sale, so I threw it into a salad with some seasoned black turtle beans, salsa, corn chips, and goat cheese for a Taco Salad. (Forgive the picture, I was in a hurry. My dear family is often waiting to eat while I try to get a good shot of our dinner!) I concocted a basic vinaigrette and added lemon juice and chili powder. It was delicious! To make your own, just use a formula of 2 parts oil to one part vinegar, and add a pinch of salt. You may also want to try a bit of sugar. I have used mustard, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, garam masala and more to try to create the right dressing for the salad. Give it a try and enjoy the wonderful greens that are in season now!


the Contrary Goddess said...

It doesn't actually take much room to grow beans. We've produced more than a pound off of ONE single runner bean.

maggie said...

I have never seen that lettuce before. Quite striking. As salads are now the only vegetable the twins will consume we too have them every night. Some nuts and beans and I don't need anything else.

Mia said...

I'm less interested in runner beans than heirloom beans for drying, but I think the principle is the same. It's not so much that I think we need acreage as that we are already adding beds that are full to the brim with our basics, so at the moment it's just more than I can handle. No adding beds for a while.