Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer salads

I am waiting ever so patiently for my cherry tomatoes to ripen.

We have what I think are the largest cherry tomato plants in all of Portland, weighted down with countless clusters of cherry tomatoes. See them in the picture below?  Taller than our fence?  Unfortunately, they are all green. (I have actually had to do some serious cutting them back at least three times already!)

In a way, it is good they haven’t ripened yet, since we our cucumbers are just starting to become big enough to harvest, and one of our favorite summer salads is Greek salad.  We slice cucumbers with cherry tomatoes, throw in a little sliced red onion with kalamata olives, olive oil, oregano and black pepper.  Traditionally, from what I’ve experienced in Athens and on Crete, the feta cheese is served in a block on the side, but we often crumble ours up and toss it with the salad. 

Yes, we actually planted the tomatoes and the cucumbers with that salad in mind. 

Meanwhile, we’ve been putting together chop salads with our carrots and celery, along with spinach and other veggies we find at the farmers’ market.  I can’t get enough of these fresh veggies.  All I can think about is those winter months when avocadoes will be hard to come by (at least, avocadoes that ripen properly) and the taste of perfectly ripe peaches will be a distant memory.

A coworker of mine leant me her Cook’s Country magazine from a few years ago, which contained a number of great summer salads.  This one is an adaptation of one of those salads, and sort of a twist on a greek-inspired salad.  Though this works great as a picnic salad now (and is certainly a crowd-pleaser) it doesn’t require a lot of various vegetables, so could still be easily thrown together as winter approaches.

Greek-inspired shredded lettuce and spinach salad
I’ve made this a number of times in the past couple of months.  I really love the crunch of the iceberg lettuce, though it doesn’t lend much nutritional value.  The first time I made it, I threw in 2 cups of cooked rice and used less spinach and lettuce.  You could toss in some rice to this to make it feed more people, or perhaps some cold rice pasta (as written below, this feeds about 4).  To “shred” the iceberg lettuce, wash and core the head, then slice it in half.  Place the cut side down on a cutting board and, using a sharp serrated knife, slice thin slices of lettuce.   Then go back and cut across the slices perpendicular to your initial cuts to make small pieces of lettuce.

Mix together in a large bowl:
½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded and chopped fine
8 oz baby spinach, chopped fine
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced fine
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 cooked chicken breast, cooled and cut into bit-sized pieces
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Mix together in a small dish and toss over lettuce mixture:
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly grated black pepper


1 comment:

Sophie said...

A lovely end of summer greek like salad!

This tasty salad looks truly amazing,..mmmmm!