Nothing is better than sun-ripened fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about peaches that leave a trail of juice dribbling down your chin and arms. A sun-warmed, slightly sweet tomato. Poppin’ blueberries or beans off the vine screams summer to me. Come on, you know the thought of freshly picked strawberries makes you salivate. How do you make the most of seasonal produce for healthy dinner and lunch? I’ve got you covered with salad inspiration.
Living in the heart of farm country means convenient farm fresh produce. Chain grocery stores (even the stores with names beginning with the letter “w”) don’t offer farm fresh options. I prefer to invest my money with local famers I know. Think it’s hard to find accessible produce? I started a list for you, it’s here. Now you just need to fit healthy shopping habits into your schedule or join a CSA.
If you prefer to get your green thumb on, it’s not too late for summer planting. Nan Reinert, Founder of Chubby Pickle Farms, visited my podcast, the 2 Weird Hungry Girls. We talked about our favorite local farm stands and gardening tips. (pssst…If you don’t know Esther you don’t know jack. Find Wayside Produce and introduce yourself.) Listen in here.
Let’s talk about what to do with your CSA goodies, garden bounty or farm finds. Summer salads make savoring the season rather easy. With a basic plan, dinner in a pinch or a healthy lunch is quick and easy. Planning the perfect summer salad includes a few basic ingredients: handmade dressing, seasonal vegetables, grain and/or legume, nuts and fruit. Meats and cheese are optional but not necessary. Find a central flavor for the salad and build it from there, the combinations are nearly endless.
Your CSA box might have fennel, think orange as a salad partner. Here is a Shaved Apple Fennel Citrus Salad and a Fennel Cucumber Tomatoless Caprese Salad recipe. Stumped by what to do with beets? Roast them. Pair them with a blackberries, citrus, fresh thyme or ginger and toss with a legume. I could go on and on but you should just come to a cooking demo.
Let’s get one thing straight, a summer salad does not mean iceberg lettuce. Swap lettuce for swiss chard or red russian kale as a flavorful, healthy substitute. Massaged Kale Salad is a new favorite in my household. I’m sure my husband never heard of kale before he met me. Now he has a Phoebe and kale! What a bargain! (Insert Dan rolling his eyes at this point.)
This Tomato Chard Salad is my family’s summer go-to. My dad makes it all season using his homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. I added the swiss chard and freekeh. Freekeh (freak-eh) is a young roasted green wheat. It’s a new food trend but it’s been around for centuries. Freekeh has a chewy, nutty and a slightly smokey flavor and bulks up the salad. This recipe is perfect on top of fresh greens and serves as a vegetarian/vegan dinner option. If you don’t have fresh dill use another garden goodies like thyme, nasturtium or parsley. There are no fast rules for this recipe, just keep it fresh.
- 1 cup prepared cracked freekeh (substitute quinoa or rice as a gluten free option. freekeh contains gluten)
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- ¼ cup prepared beans
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- 3-4 swiss chard leaves, chopped
- 1 -2 tablespoons dill, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- Crumbled feta, optional (skip the feta if you are making this a vegan recipe)
- Quickie Dressing
- Quickie Dressing
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
- 1 teaspoon raw, organic agave or jam
- pinch of salt and coarsely ground pepper
- Gently combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients until emulsified. Use as much or as little as you prefer.