Food Topic: Creating a Salad
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Today we are going to make a salad.  What I want to do is talk about the different lettuces and herbs that are available for harvest in our gardens now that would go nicely in a fresh spring salad. 

Lots of different lettuces on
the market: head lettuces: hydroponic, Bibb, iceberg, Boston (butter), leaf lettuces: red (bronze) leaf, romaine, salad bowl (green leaf) & Mache to name a few.  All of these are available locally as well the super processed bagged lettuces and salads. Be careful about purchasing bagged lettuces because some of them are treated with Sulfite containing fresheners to keep the cut up veggies from turning brown. Inspect the salad in the supermarket in order to guarantee the freshest product- turn the bag over and look at the back of the bag before purchasing.

Though Boston and Bibb lettuces are extremely fragile and perishable, they are the tastiest of lettuces and makes a lovely salad w/hard boiled egg, fresh tomato and a light vinaigrette. 

Look for crisp heads with proper color; iceberg should be heavy and solid for its size.  Avoid wilt, rot, rust, flabbiness, browning.

Available year round, spinach is fresh in our gardens now.  With our strange spring, I lost some of it early on with our snow, and the leaves are small so I donít have much of a crop, just enough to be a part of a salad.  I do enjoy a wilted spinach salad with ham or Canadian bacon for breakfast.

It is too late to plant lettuce and spinach seeds because they bolt (or go to seed) in hotter weather, though there are hot weather types of spinach that are designed to grow in hotter weather.

You can store greens in the ífrig for a couple of days.  Greens from the garden often have a lot of dirt on them.  The easiest way to clean them is to fill a sink with cold water and submerge the greens, swish and let settle.  Carefully remove the greens to a colander, drain the sink and repeat.  Do this 2-3 times, until the gritty dirt has been washed away.  After washing greens, dry in a salad spinner or roll in a clean towel.  Cleaned lettuce can be stored, rolled in a towel and in a plastic bag in the 'frig for several hours before using.  

Herb additions for Dressings-  tarragon, oregano, parsley, basils, chives, sweet marjoram 

Edible flowers for salads- chive blossoms, nasturtiums, pansies, peas blossoms- when in doubt, donít eat (refer to Aug. 15 Edible Flowers show for more info)

Herb additions for salads:   

chives- both common and garlic- light onion/garlic flavor

 salad burnet- cucumber flavor

 red purilla- dark red-burgundy, light curry flavor- wonderful taste, gorgeous color addition

 basils- cinnamon, lemon, lime- great flavors and red rubin (more purple than red)- a bright addition,

 parsley- always- good for us, high in vit. C

 fennel- looks similar to dill with an anise flavor

 dill is a favorite

 sweet marjoram- sweet mild flavor addition to salads


 Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes 2/3 c

1/3 c olive oil
3 T water
Ĺ tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
1 T minced onion
1 tsp brown sugar
ľ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 T balsamic vinegar

2 T minced fresh chives

Place all of the ingredients, except chives, together in a food processor, blender or use an emulsion blender and combine the ingredients together until emulsified.  Stir in chives.

Hint:  you can mix everything together with a whisk or spoon, but by emulsifying the dressing, the vinegar and oil donít separate as easily and the dressing is smoother.



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