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Farmers Market Salad

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Now that most farmers markets are in full swing, there’s no excuse not to keep fresh vegetables and fruits in the house. Some of you may depend on a small garden, which is great for fresh items, but many people rely on others for fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s no better way to get fresh than from our local farmers market.

I created a salad that I’m calling my Farmers Market Salad, which started when I wanted to make room in my refrigerator before making my weekly trip to the local market. I love the variety of things you can get at the market, definitely an A-to-Z kind of shopping. When planting your own garden, you don’t always have room to plant everything you want. So, having both a garden and a farmer’s market available to you can always provide a scrumptious variety of freshness for your family. How healthy is that? How good is it to have the great flavors of fresh grown at your reach?

Let’s take a peek in my refrigerator to see what I need to use up. I see three ears of corn that my grandson didn’t see first, so I will husk those and just blanch them in a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. I let them cool and cut the kernels off into a large bowl, using a knife and my Bundt pan to do this. Just place the corn over the hole in the middle of the pan and slice the kernels off the cob. The pan will catch them so they’re not all over the kitchen. This week there is a head of romaine lettuce (last week it was butter leaf lettuce), some colorful bell pepper, sweet peppers, zucchini, avocados, a small bowl of cherry tomatoes along with cilantro and a red onion from my garden. Let’s see how big my salad will get and how much room I have made in the refrigerator for this week’s trip to the market.

This made enough salad for dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow at work. Sorry, co-workers, not exactly enough to share. With all this fresh goodness sitting in one bowl, I decided it needed some protein added; in the pantry I go and there’s a can of kidney beans. You could use black beans or garbanzo beans, whatever you have; there’s no need to make a special trip to the store. Drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the salad. This adds a whole new dimension of color to this salad. Even leftover chicken breast cubed and added is great for this salad.

The dressing for this salad is designed to go directly on the salad for tossing. I add everything except the lettuce into the bowl first, stir in the dressing and let it marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once it’s chilled, spoon the marinated portion of this salad onto a bed of lettuce. The lettuce stays fresh and doesn’t get soggy, so this works especially well when there are leftovers for lunch. Lettuce is in one container and marinated goodness in the other; my lunch is packed for tomorrow.

Farmers Market Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 fresh lime or lemon, squeezed 

2½ tbsp. honey
½ – 1 tsp, cumin (use more if you like cumin)
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
4-5 tbsp. olive oil
Fresh black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, place salt and fresh-minced garlic; I love doing this in my wood salad bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press the garlic and salt to form a paste; this will take a few presses to get the paste but will give you the full flavor of the garlic. I use a garlic press to mince the garlic. Add the lime juice, honey, cumin and whisk together. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until combined.

Salad Ingredients
1 head of lettuce, chopped and set aside separate from the other ingredients

1 medium bell pepper, diced into ¼ – ½ inch pieces
½ medium red onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 avocados, diced into 1-inch chunks
1 cucumber, chopped in ½-inch pieces
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
2-4 ears of corn, blanched and cut off the cob
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 can drained beans, kidney or black beans

Add all ingredients to a large bowl, except lettuce, pour on the dressing and toss until covered. Because I use citrus in this dressing, the avocado will not brown and it keeps the colors of the salad bright when serving. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, place a bed of lettuce on the plate and top with marinated vegetables. If you are serving a crowd, put the lettuce and marinated vegetables in a large bowl, toss and serve.

This salad goes great with burgers, chicken, steaks or just by itself for a fresh, filling salad. Don’t forget your cart and bags, because we now have room in the refrigerator for some fresh and delicious produce. Let’s go see what new varieties or old favorites we can find at the farmers market tomorrow. Hope to see you there!