Last week we made a report on what was available at our area farmers markets, and on top of the list were salad greens. It may seem hard to believe but you can still stroll past the stands and see things you've never seen before. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino will point out, you can still get your old reliables but there are an amazing number of choices out there.
Oddly enough, good old-fashioned iceberg lettuce can be found, but it is very much a junior player. Romaine lettuce, bibb lettuce, arugula, mizuna, red leaf lettuce, radicchio and frisée are all out there ready to jump into your market basket.
Add to those items like kale, beet greens, watercress, and endive and you can see that any enterprising salad maker has tons of ingredients and inspiration to work with. And of course you can swing by Gardner's Delight Farm and pick up a bag of their mesclun, and let them do the mix and match for you.
Once you have your greens you then need to decide on your salad dressing.
A simple vinaigrette composed of olive oil, high quality vinegar and seasoning is easy as pie. Of course there are complications you can come up with to get very creative.
Here are some vinaigrette ideas plus a few summer salads that Jerry has come up with.
Vinaigrettes are emulsified sauces that should have a smooth, creamy texture. They are not always easy to make and require patience when mixing to ensure the optimal results. You can vary the taste by using different oils and vinegars and buy adding a multitude of things to the initial base. Below are two of our favorites.
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper and to taste
Add the balsamic vinegar and the Dijon mustard to the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade. Season with salt & pepper and pulse a few times to combine. Turn on the processor and slowly add the oil in a steady stream through the lid. When all the oil has been added turn off the machine. Transfer the vinaigrette to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup grapeseed oil (or other mild tasting oil such as coconut oil)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Add the apple cider vinegar, honey and the mustard to the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade. Season with salt & pepper and pulse a few times to combine. Turn on the processor and slowly add the oil in a steady stream through the lid. When all the oil has been added turn off the machine. Transfer the vinaigrette to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.
Peaches, Arugula, Pecans, Ricotta & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
4 peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh baby arugula
¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh ricotta
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, see above
Toss the peaches, baby arugula and pecans together in a bowl. Add ¼ cup of honey vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper and toss until coated. You can add more dressing if you’d like. Place the salad on a platter and dollop the fresh ricotta over the salad.
6 egg yolks
1 lemon juice, zest and juice
the zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon of Worchester Sauce
salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
16 oz. blended oil
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping bade. Process until combined well. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until the aioli has emulsified. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Chicken Salad with Grapes & Tarragon
1 lb. chicken, cooked and cut into cubes
½ lb. red grapes, halved
1 cup celery, chopped
4 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves picked and chopped
1 cup fresh mayonnaise
Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Use immediately or keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Caprese with Watermelon, Prosciutto and Lemon Zest
4 roma tomatoes, sliced
¼ of a large watermelon
4 oz. Prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 large lemon
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
10 fresh basil leaves cut into thin strips
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Slice the watermelon into ½ inch slices and using a 2-inch circle cutter, make as many circles as possible. Artfully arrange the tomatoes, watermelon, salami and mozzarella on a platter. Sprinkle the basil over the salad. Using a zester, zest the lemon directly onto the salad. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt. Serve immediately.
Cantaloupe & Prosecco Fruit Salad
1 Eastern Shore Cantaloupe, cut in half, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 basil leaves cut into thin threads
½ cup pickled red onions (optional)
Salt and crushed red pepper to taste
1 bottle of Prosecco
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve immediately!