Salad Days

Last Saturday was a gorgeous day, perfect for visiting the Farmers' Market.  And the market was hopping.  "In-season" was lettuce, salad greens, rhubarb and an abundance of potted plants for transplanting to the garden.  Wake Robin Farm is one of my favorite vendors and last summer I grew "Black Krim" and "Bull's Heart" tomatoes with good luck, considering the many weeks of wet weather.  Monstrous they were, too.  This year I am trying a cherry tomato called "Chocolate Cherry" - super-productive and 70 days until I can have my chocolate fix and vegetable serving at once.

Since it's still early in the season, I also visited Golden Harvest Produce Market.  And went a little crazy.

How much can a girl eat?  Hence, this salad.

Ingredients can vary with the seasons, so feel free to use other greens and cooked vegetables such as roasted squash and boiled beets.  I've made this salad several times and you'll notice for this photo I used red leaf lettuce, purple potatoes, grape tomatoes, and Kalamata olives.  Have fun experimenting and don't be discouraged by the lengthy recipe.  It moves very quickly!

- Doreen

Raw and Cooked Salad
from Lidia's Italy by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

1 lb. sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
3/4 lb. Red Bliss potatoes (3 to 6, depending on size)
1/2 pound fresh green beans
1 or 2 ripe fresh tomatoes (about 1/2 pound)
1 or 2 heads of Bibb lettuce (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
3 tablespoons small capers, drained
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the cooked vegetables:  Peel and trim the onions, and slice into rounds about 3/4 inch thick.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle salt lightly on both sides.  Lay onions on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or longer, turning once, until slightly soft and nicely caramelized on the flat sides and edges.  Cool, then separate the rounds into thick onion rings.

Meanwhile, drop the potatoes, whole with skin on, into a pot with plenty of water.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook just until a sharp knife blade slides through the potatoes - don't let them get mushy.  Extract the potatoes and cut them into wedges about 1 inch thick.

Trim the ends of the green beans and when the potatoes are out of the boiling water, drop the beans in and cook until al dente, 4 minutes or so.  Scoop them from the pot with a slotted spoon and drop the beans into icy water, to set the color.  Once they are chilled, drain and dry the beans, and cut them in 2-inch lengths.

For the raw vegetables:  Rinse, dry and core the tomatoes.  Slice them into wedges about the same size as the potatoes.  Separate, rinse and spin-dry the lettuce leaves.

Put everything in the bowl except the lettuce:  onions, potatoes, beans, olives, capers and tomatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle over it the rest of the olive oil and red wine vinegar, and tumble the vegetables to coat them with dressing.  

Scatter the lettuce on top, tearing the larger leaves into two, then toss the greens with the vegetables gently but continuously, for about a minute, to distribute the dressing evenly.  Taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and toss again.  Serve immediately - always including some of the heavier goodies that drop to the bottom of the bowl and hide under the lettuce.

Yield:  Serves 6 or more


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