Winter to Summer Salads

We have quite a variety of vegetables available at the Farmers’ Market already, much more than I remember so early in previous years.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shop around yesterday while the full array was available, because I was at my own booth.  Fortunately, a friend from one of the farms saved a bag of salad greens, then I managed to scrounge up some spinach, spring onions, and garlic after the market ended.  I’ll still have to go to the store for my other greens this week, but I’m already planning to set up early next week (instead of running in 5 minutes before the market starts!) so I can get my shopping done early. 

Receiving my little bag of salad greens while bundled up in my Winter jacket, hat, and gloves made me think again about this transitional time and how we have elements of Winter and Summer on our tables right now.  A salad is the perfect way to see this in action, and, as always with salad, there are so many options.  I think I was probably in a salad rut until I picked the build-your-own salad option at Watercourse Foods (far and away my favorite place to eat in Denver) a year or so ago.  Since then, I’ve become much more creative with my salad-making, inspired by their variety of interesting options.  They have separate lists, lettuce types, proteins, vegetables, etc.  And, of course, several dressings from which to choose.  I never would have thought to put cooked, cubed Winter squash or sweet potatoes on my salad before this, but now I’m so glad I have…

So, here is my new favorite transition-time salad.  I love the lightness of the spring greens, combined with more hearty and warming “Wintery” vegetables.  I have been enjoying a tahini-based balsalmic dressing, especially when I am having salad as an entree.  This is what I like, but please use it as inspiration to create your own combinations, then go to the Farmers’ Market and see what new things come every week!  And…join a CSA or grow food in your own garden, so you can enjoy the surprise of whatever comes up in each new day! 

April Salad

  • Dressing: tahini-balsalmic dressing
  • Salad greens (locally grown, if possible)
  • Orange veggie: roasted Winter squash or sweet potato cubes (or diced carrots)
  • Green veggie: stir fried, steamed, or roasted broccoli or asparagus, (and/or frozen peas, my packaged food weakness)
  • Red veggie: Roasted Beets
  • Protein: roasted or baked tofu or tempeh, or roasted chickpeas
  • Crunch: raw almond/spinach/carrot crackers, or raw or lightly toasted nuts
  • Optional embellishments: roasted leeks or spring onions

I listed the dressing first, because I like to mix it up in the bowl before to avoid washing another jar, dish, etc.   I don’t measure the dressing ingredients, but I’ll approximate here for one serving, then you can adjust it according to your taste…Put 1 Tablespoon tahini, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons balsalmic (or lemon juice), squirt of agave, and freshly ground salt and pepper, then stir briskly with your fork until it’s creamy and well-combined.  Add remaining salad greens and other vegetables and toss to combine with dressing.   Mix in protein of your choice, then top with whatever is providing your crunch.   Enjoy!

I was hoping to be able to link to the Watercourse menu so you could see all of their salad choices, but they don’t list the build-your-own salad ingredients.  So, from what I can remember, a few other things to think about are:

  • a variety of lettuces and leafy greens
  • roasted or sauteed portobello mushrooms
  • boiled potatoes
  • any type of cooked bean
  • avocado
  • olives
  • sweet roasted nuts
  • dried fruit, if you are a fruit in salad person
  • etc, etc, etc…
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