Saturday, August 27, 2016

Your Garden Salad

The idea is to pick whatever your garden gives your today and, with a couple of simple tricks, to master salad, packed with unique nutritional energy of Mother-Earth.

Blog's Category: Healthy, My Garden, My Own Fast and Easy, My Staple Food, Vegetarian


*** This recipe is not really precise recipe for a salad. It is the idea of my salad I implement almost everyday for our family dinners. When it is not a garden harvest season, I just use whatever vegetables I have at home at a moment.

*** If you also lucky to have your own vegetable patch - go outside and pick whatever is ready to jump in a bowl. Now, in August, it should be plenty. In my small garden, to my surprise, I managed to pick really beautiful bowl of kale, three sorts of tomatoes, chives, basil leaves, shiso (japanese herb with a pretty purple leaves) - see pictures below.

*** If you don't have a garden, buy whatever screams at you at your local market - some leafy vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, herbs.

*** If you read this post in a winter, and it's grey and gloomy outside - dig in your fridge and find any vegetables you can eat raw. I'm sure you can find more than you would think. At least it happens to me pretty often ;)

*** This recipe does not call for mixing your salad ingredients together. Don't! Instead, place them in a small piles next to each other on a large and shallow individual plates. I promise, you will like what you'll see.  Then add your choice of protein (I'll give you couple suggestions below) and pour a simple homemade dressing on top. Now, let's a show begin - first, eat this beauty with your eyes, appreciate colors and shapes.  Now, eat a centerpiece - flower and note its "internal" beauty. Each flower has its own unique aroma. In this recipe it's nasturtia. Pansy, calendula, Runner Bean flower, clover, dendelion, rose, lavender can be used (just make sure type of flower you are going to use is edible). After flower, try each ingredient separately to know and appreciate its individual personality. And now - loosely mix ingredients on your plate and enjoy them altogether. Depending on what random combination of them will get onto your fork - taste will be different, as different are musical passages in an opera, right?

What is it?

Random variety of vegetables and herbs, chopped, along with a one type of protein, either beans, other legumes, nuts, cheese or mushrooms, placed, without mixing, on individual plates and dressed with an olive oil based dressing. 

Taste Description

It is a dance of nature's flavors and tastes right on your plate. You will taste all array of different tangs at wherever corner of a plate your fork-explorer will lead you. It is not a meal, it is adventure, discovery, fun, joy and satisfaction.


- As a choice of protein, besides obvious ones I have mentioned above, can also be used canned fish, such as salmon, tuna or sardines, roughly smashed with a fork and also neatly piled next to vegetables on a plate. 

- Generally, as world of salad ingredients are endless, endless are variations of this salad. Just stick to a principle of not mixing ingredients together, when serving.

Side Note

I know why this kind of salad is my favorite - I really not a huge fan of food that is mixed or stirred to the point when ingredients are not recognizable. And yes, at a party, different food shouldn't touch each other on my plate. Ain't a freak :))))

How to Serve

- Serve right away. Or make an extra plate without dressing, cover with plastic wrap and keep in a fridge for your tomorrow's lunch.

Your Garden Discovery Salad

* List of ingredients largely depends on your current harvest ;)

For 3 servings:
  • 6 medium leaves of kale, stem removed, torn in pieces and processed in a kitchen processor 
  • 3 large leaves of purple collard tree, chopped (wondering what's this? see pictures below)
  • 3 yellow tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 huge pink tomato, sliced
  • 1.5" diameter bunch of chives, chopped
  • 9 large leaves of basil, torn in pieces
  • 9 purple shiso leaves, julienned (leave 3 whole leaves for garnishing)
  • 3 nasturtia flowers
  • 9 stems of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from a stem
  • 1 can of cannelini (white) beans, rinsed
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbs sugar
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

-  Prepare 3 individual large shallow plates for salad.

- As you chop your vegetables, divide in three piles and transfer each onto your individual serving plates. Keep it in shape of pile. Place each vegetable pile next to each other, do not mix them together. 

- Place rinsed beans in a middle of each plate. Arrange piles to your artistic liking. Garnish with shiso leaf and nasturtia flower.

- Lightly whisk dressing and pour over salad right before serving. 

- When serving, encourage your folks to try each ingredient separately to discover its own taste and then mix all together and enjoy it! Make sure that nasturtium, especially, was eaten on its own to enjoy its unique balanced peppery, sweat-n-savory taste.



My tiny amateur garden 

Roma tomatoes. Meaty and dense.

Yellow Lemon Boy. Very juicy and sweet.

It's purple leaf tree collard. Just snap lower meaty neutraly-tasting leaves allowing your tree to grow up and up. Unfortunately it won't survive our 5b zone winter, so I'll try to save it indoor ;)

Love it, love it, love it! Peppery delicious beautiful nasturtia. Flowers and leaves are edible. I will try to seed it in abundance next year... 

Thyme. Amazing herb. Soft strength in flavor. Survives our harsh winters - a definite plus!

From the left - greek oregano, wooden legs :-) rosemary and sage. To keep flavors in bay, for this salad, get no more than 2 medium stems of oregano (use leaves only), 3" stem of rosemary (use chopped needles only), 4 sage leaves ( julienne them) .

Basil. Shiny, thick and buttery leaves with a strong unique sweetly pungent aroma.

Purple shiso on a right. I seeded them purposely to make shiso leaf kimchi. something I realy love (did do this yet).  Shiso has very bright and strong flavor, somewhat resembling sage, oregano and thyme all together :)
Green fringe-y tough leaves on a left is kale. Huge thanks to my co-worker, who, back in May, gave away his kale's seedling surplus to me, thanks Adam! Finely chopped and rubbed, kale, this mega-source of vitamins, transforms into juicy softly-chewy bright-green goodness.

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