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.

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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.