Festive Holiday Salad of Reds & Greens

For holiday potlucks we like to do a little extra. Set on a bed of tender greens, this salad combines reds, greens and white as a holiday theme.holiday salad

Ingredients:

Butter Lettuce, Mache, & Radicchio, dressed lightly with oil, vinegar and salt

Roasted Beets: Peel, slice into narrow vertical strips, drizzle with oil, vinegar, salt and optional pomegranate molasses. Set in an inner ring over greens.

Deviled Eggs: 12 eggs hard boiled. Yolks, mashed and  combined with a rounded teaspoon Dijon or your favorite mustard, a quarter teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Fill eggs with yolk mix. If any of the whites hopelessly break apart just add yolk to mixture and set aside or discard the whites. As a last step place eggs.

Parsley, rinsed and chopped, 1/3 cup…sprinkle over beets and salad greens followed by pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Seeds: Purchase ready to use if possible. Used about 1/3 of a cup and provided a delightful crunch.

Place eggs around salad and take to your event. Do not cover with plastic wrap, it will make a mess of the eggs. Sit it all on a large tray or cookie sheet in back of car.

Roasting beets: I wrap them individually in foil and roast at 350 for about an hour. This time I made the mistake of not peeling shortly after roasting and that did not save time.

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Marinated Winter Squash Salad

I‘m always looking for easy ways to use our crops of winter squash and have adapted this unusual recipe found in “Cooking From An Italian Garden by Scaravelli & Cohen. A cooked salad from winter squash struck me as novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The squash in the photo is Sibley Select, a sweet thick-fleshed Cucurbita maxima. Other varieties of winter squash are also suitable and find them preferable to pumpkin.

Winter squash 2-2.5 lb. piece, deseeded.

Roast in oven 30-45 minutes, only until

it can be pierced by a fork but is still firm

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1 rounded Tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tsp. Nichols Malibu blend or ½ tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves finely minced

A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce

Allow lightly roasted squash to cool. Remove rind and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add chopped bell pepper and onions and combine with squash mixture.Add dressing and mix. Cover and marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. When ready to serve add salt to taste and sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature.

The flavor of garlic and hot pepper can intensify overnight. To correct add more chopped bell pepper or ½ cup chopped celery. This keeps for three to four days and is quickly transformed into soup with a 13 oz. can of coconut milk and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Place all in a medium size saucepan and simmer for ten minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Salad of Swiss Chard, Beets and Fruit

Swiss Chard and Beet SaladCooked greens make a delicious salad base. This was an evening to find a purpose for accumulated ingredients. We had leftover multi-colored Swiss Chard which was braised in a little olive oil and garlic. The stems and garlic were cooked for three minutes before coarsely chopped leaves were added.

Our other ingredients were also ready:
2 medium baked beets
1 orange, peeled
1 mango, peeled
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1/4 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt to taste

Slice beets, orange and mango into a dish. Dress with vinegar and oil. Layer over greens, sprinkle first with parsley and then cheese. A few added walnuts would be good. Another version for  beet and salad would be sliced pears and a sprinkling of dried cranberries.   Fresh tarragon would be a good herb along with parsley.

Our Neon chard is large leaved and quite beautiful in mid spring. This is from last year’s planting and chard makes great regrowth once spring arrives. Chard belongs in every garden and is pretty enough to add to a flower bed. Leaf miner can be a problem in some areas and now is safely controlled by using organically approved spinosad applied as a light spray.  We use and offer it as Monterey Garden Insect Garden Spray.

Miner’s Lettuce Salad

Miners Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata grows wild up and down the west coast. It’s a lovely little plant for spring salads and is easy to grow. Rich in vitamins A and C, it was an important food for Native Americans, early settlers andminers-lettuce gold rush miners. A few seeds sown in bare spots will show up as clusters of rounded leaves with tiny white flowers in the center. Stems as well as leaves are edible. Best picked when budded or blooming and before seeds form. The flavor is freshly green and grassy and melds beautifully with other ingredients.
A few years ago I was talking with Pam Peirce, author of Golden Gate Gardening, a year-round guide to food gardening in the Bay area. I asked if she liked mache/corn salad and she said “it’s ok, but I much prefer Miner’s lettuce”, so I began paying more attention to this garden green. Both now have an important space in my garden. With only a little encouragement both these plants will obligingly self sow.

Serves 3-6 depending upon appetites. miners-lettuce-saladA generous serving is a light main course.

4-5 cups Miners lettuce with stems, rinsed & trimmed
2-3 tablespoons fresh spearmint, finely chopped
6 small baked beets, peeled & sliced
2 tablespoons red onion finely sliced
4 teaspoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup cup walnut pieces or halves (toasted)
1 teaspoon salad oil
½ teaspoon sugar
2 to 4 oz. crumbled feta or goat cheese

To avoid tossing the delicate miner’s lettuce make this a layered salad. Spread out the greens on a serving dish and sprinkle with fresh spearmint. Combine beets, red onion, walnut oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. Spread beet mixture over the greens. Toast walnuts in a small skillet set on medium heat with oil and sugar. They’ll become fragrant and ready to use in 3-4 minutes, watch carefully as they can quickly go from perfect to scorched. Sprinkle cooled nuts over beets and last drizzle with cheese.

Salad Greens & Edible Flowers

Salad with Edible Flowers

As we move into cooler weather I see our salad garden is a bit uneven. We have lots of greens for cooking, mesclun, racdiccio and arugula but sometimes I begin to crave a crunchy salad that’s packed with flavor and color. So I broke down and purchased some lovely local Romaine lettuce. The garden pantry contributed radiccio, which we cut at the soil line instead of pulling because the plants often produce a second head.
In spite of some near frosty nights we still have some of my favorite edible flowers. Nasturtiums add color, a wonderful fresh peppery bite and the anise hyssop echoes the tarragon with it’s own sweet anise flavor. Each anise hyssop flower head is actually dozens of tiny flowers that I stripped from the stem. Mild flavored calendula petals are twisted away from the head and sprinkled like confetti over the greens.

1 head Romaine lettuce
1 small head radicchio
1 rounded tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
(if fresh tarragon is unavailable use a small handful of parsley)

Dressing:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed

Edible Flower Mixture
Nasturtiums
Calendula
Anise Hyssop

I gathered about one cup edible flowers not packed, this was about eight nasturtium blossoms, 2 flower heads of anise hyssop, and half a dozen calendula flowers. Always use flowers that are not sprayed with chemicals.

Rinse, dry and tear salad greens into bite size pieces. The tarragon leaves can remain whole. Mix dressing ingredients and toss with greens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flowers over the salad greens, do not toss and serve. Serves 2-4.