Summer is the season of abundant vegetables. My family eats such a wide variety of vegetables in this season that my husband often jokes with me and asks if we’re becoming vegetarian. We are certainly not but I do take full advantage of the abundance of vegetables in this season, both in my garden and at the farmers market, to cook them in many different ways.
Although I love to experiment and develop new recipes using vegetables, an incredibly easy way to incorporate more of these nourishing ingredients grown from the earth is to make salads out of them. So often we think of salads as just greens tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese; however, salads can be made from a variety of vegetables tossed in a simple oil and vinegar vinaigrette – in Spain, this type of salad is called an aliño.
An aliño is just vegetables, cooked or cut up raw, and then tossed in a simple vinaigrette and seasoned with a large granule sea salt. It’s super simple to make and with the addition of fresh grown herbs, the salads become something to swoon over. Let me show you just how simple this beet and strawberry salad is to make:
Step 1. Boil the beets, peel, and dice. Toss into a bowl.
Step 2. Thinly slice some red onions and add to the bowl.
Step 3. Slice up some perfectly ripened strawberries and add to the bowl.
Step 4. Add in a bit of herbs of your choice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with a large granule sea salt.
Step 5. Toss together and serve.
Salads of this nature can be made from any vegetable you may have on hand. Here are a few tips for making sensational summer salads.
- Red onions generally go really well in most salads. They’re sweeter and compliment vegetables and fruit well.
- Add in seasonal fruit as it comes into season. It gives salads a touch of sweetness without having to add sugar or honey. I’ve been known to add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sliced peaches, and even watermelon to summer salads.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve tossed cauliflower salads, cucumber and tomato salads, beet and watermelon salads, roasted red pepper with red onion salads, etc…
- Large granule sea salt is for more than flavor. It’s surprising how amazing salads can taste by the simple addition of a large granule sea salt. It gives them texture – a delightful crunch.
- Herbs can make a salad. It’s amazing how one salad can taste many different ways by using different herbs. Again, experiment with herbs. Some of my favorites are mint, cilantro, summer savory, marjoram, and lemon balm.
Now the key to a fabulous summer salad is in the vinaigrette. Often times we think we need to concoct a dressing made of 10 different ingredients to enjoy a salad but really it’s much simpler than that. As long as you have the seasons freshest fruit and vegetables all you need is a simple vinaigrette. On hand, I always have balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. The following is my ratio for a simple vinaigrette.
- 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbls of vinegar (red wine, balsamic, or apple cider)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp large granule sea salt
That’s it. As soon as you start experimenting making salads with a variety of fruits and vegetables I’m sure you’ll memorize that ratio as I have.
- 3-4 large beets, boiled, peeled, diced, and cooled
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1 tbls marjoram (or any other variety of fresh herb like mint)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbls red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp large granule salt.
- In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients.
- Chill or serve at room temperature.
Do you enjoy trying new summer salads? Please let us know in the comments below some of your favorite recipes for summer salads.