This summer, I had the joy of watching the little seeds and
starts I plopped
into my little edible garden stretch and blossom. As a
new vegetable gardener, I expected that not everything would go as
planned. A “cabbage” grew up to be a giant Brussels sprout that
took over a corner of the garden, shading out a few things planted
a little to closely. Some purple radishes never really plumped past
a skinny root, carrot seeds never quite figured out that summer had
come. I had squash blossoms aplenty, but little in the way of
But oh, the tomatoes. A couple plants snaked their way through
the garden, bloomed and were produced prolifically. Also on the
garden’s plus side were basil, sage and lettuce that added fresh
flourishes to summer meals.
And with some of the little that remains, I recently made my
favorite summer meal.
Caprese salad is a somewhat new-found taste. Though I may have
had it before, the first time I remember it clearly was
eating it at a North Kitsap fire station. I’d been invited to a
meal there, and among the other great dishes was caprese salad.
(Side note: I learned from being a crime and public safety reporter
was that firefighters make some darn fine meals, so if you ever see
a chance for such a meal, jump at it.) Though wary at first, from
the first bite I was in love. The combination of basil, tomatoes,
olive oil and Balsamic vinegar was a simply beautiful bit of summer
in my mouth.
So, in honor of the waning days of summer, this is what I made.
I drizzled olive oil and dropped 12-year-old Balsamic and shook
some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper over it all.
I made my first potato salad this weekend. You’d think with
something so easy, I would have done it before, but those clear
little plastic grocery store containers just seem so easy.
Well, with the spectacular sunshine this weekend, I made a go of
it as a side dish with some burgers.
I read up a little on the basics and whipped together one of my
own. I got a few tips from Barbara Lauternach’s
“Potato Salad”, which reminded me that there really are
hundreds of variations on a potato salad (her book as 50) that
range from ones with vinaigrette-style dressings to things way
fancier than I’m likely to put with a burger. I also searched
around the Internet for various recipes and settled on making a
basic version of my own, noting that most have some sort of
vinegar, mayo and of course potatoes. I also made good use of fresh
herbs growing in my garden.
Other folks add sugar and more crunchy items like relish,
parsley and/or celery. I stuck with some very basic and quick
ingredients, but did change it up a day later by adding a boiled
egg, mustard and paprika to make it a more filling lunch.
I wrote down the basics of what I used below. What are some of
your favorite additions? Or do you have a different basic
When I went looking for a side dish for
kebabs, I thought of one of my favorite warm-weather
This Mediterranean salad is pretty satisfying yet fresh-tasting
and it just happens to be both healthy (it uses whole grains,
vitamins from fresh herbs). I could eat the stuff all day, by the
spoonful. Other folks prefer it in a little more moderation as a
dip for pita bread.
Recipe variations range from ones that run heavy on the hergs,
such as you’ll often find in Middle Eastern restaurants to ones
that treat the parsley and mint like coloring for the grain. Though
it’s usually made with bulgar, variations on the grain also include
barley, couscous, buckwheat (if you’re going for gluten-free), or
rice. To give the dish a more exotic flavor, you can add cumin
cinnamon and/or a touch of allspice. I’ve also seen variations that
include tomatoes, apples cucumbers and other veggies.
How to Cook Everything) 1/2 cup fine- to medium-grind bulgur
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust according to
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups roughly chopped parsley leaves
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup shopped green onions
Soak bulgur in hot water to cover until tender, 15 to 30
minutse. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Toss
with oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving, add remaining ingredients and toss gently.
Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.
With all the fresh veggies about to come out in the farmers
markets, salads are going to be making more appearances
with dinner (and lunch).
I couldn’t quite wait, though, and utilized some frozen veggies
to dress up a salad this weekend.
I ate this before I managed to take a photo, but with the green
and orange and touches of red from the onion and the lettuce, it
was pretty. Well, since you can’t see it, it was downright
gorgeous, I mean you’ve never SEEN a prettier salad. Really. I
The recipe below reflects how I served it up. The next day
I ate the leftovers for lunch, and it was even better after the
bean mix had marinated for a night and I added some chopped
The salad 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame*
2 cups haricots verts (small green beans)
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 oranges, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Mixed salad greens
*If you’re using frozen edamame and/or green beans, make sure not
to fully cook them (only leave them in the boiling water a few
minutes) and rinse them with cold water so they stay cool and
crunchy for the salad.
Toss together beans, onion and orange. Leave out the greens
until you’re ready to serve.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour half over bean mix
and marinate for an hour or overnight. Before serving, toss
remaining dressing with greens and beans mix.