When I think of summer foods, I often think of meals like the one pictured: a couple of simple summer salads that can be made in the morning when it’s cool, with some grilled meat and grilled crusty bread added before serving.
In fact, it was one of these height-of-the-summer meals I made with my garden produce where I initially caught the vegetable gardening bug. That feeling of being able to say that ALL the vegetables in the meal had come from my garden was euphoric (maybe I’m exaggerating…a bit). From that point on, flowers took a back seat to veggies, and I started looking at my garden in a whole different way.
The thing is, the salads pictured look completely different, and technically they are because I’m using different vegetables in each. But they are both made essentially the same way:
- cook the pasta and/or vegetables
- add fresh ingredients
- toss in herbs and seasonings
- dress with a vinaigrette
Within this basic framework different flavors can be highlighted to give the salads distinct flavors. In the example pictured, the top salad includes:
- cauliflower (“cheddar” variety – isn’t it a beauty?) and beans from my garden
- fresh thyme
- garlic and Dijon vinaigrette (using red-wine vinegar)
The bottom salad consists of:
- orzo with a bag of corn from the freezer in the last minutes of cooking
- roasted red peppers, broccoli, olives, onions
- chopped basil, Italian parsley
- rice vinegar vinaigrette
This is pretty much how I do most salads (that aren’t based on lettuce). The possibilities are endless. I’ve done a broccoli and pea salad in the spring, lots of tomato types in the summer, and chopped salads with beans or black-eyed peas anytime. It’s easy to add whatever you’ve got in the refrigerator or garden, and it’s great for using up things.
Oregon Cottage’s Simple Summer Salad Basic Recipe
- 1/4 cup vinegar (red wine, white, rice, balsamic, or regular)
- 1 tsp. sugar or honey
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 TB. Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
-Mix first five ingredients together with a whisk. Whisk in olive oil until fully combined.
- For pasta salads: Cook pasta, adding any vegetables that need to be cooked to the pasta water for the last 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse well in cold water. Add any other vegetables, fresh chopped herbs, garlic, cheese, olives, etc. and dress with vinaigrette. Chill until ready to serve.
- For marinated or chopped salads: Prepare vegetables as needed, partially cooking those that need it and rinsing well in cold water. Add desired herbs, seasonings, beans, etc., and dress with vinaigrette. Chill or serve at room temperature.
Salad Combination Ideas
- Cauliflower, green bean, onion, garlic and thyme
- Pasta with corn, broccoli, onion, roasted peppers, olives and basil
- Chopped tomatoes with onions, garbanzo beans, feta, kalamata olives, tuna and oregano
- Diced carrots, celery, onion, red pepper, black-eyed peas and garlic
- Broccoli, white beans, onion, and tuna
- Sliced garden tomatoes with basil
- Corn, red pepper, onion, garlic, and shrimp
- Pasta with tomatoes, basil, green beans, olives, onions, garlic and Parmesan
And find more recipes at Grocery Cart Challenge’s Recipe Swap!