The Most Flavorful Salad Greens
(Page 4 of 7)
In spring, I might add strawberries, sweet peas, tender blanched asparagus, slightly hot radishes, new green garlic, or sweet beets. Summer offers every type of garden bounty from mouthwatering garden-ripe tomatoes, juicy peaches, nectarines, plums, berries and melons to crunchy cucumbers and kohlrabi, squash, beans, corn, first-harvested onions, and much more.
Crisp apples and pears, pumpkins and winter squash, onions, and every variety of dark leafy greens signal the arrival of fall. My family enjoys those dark greens into the winter months, along with cranberries and all types of citrus fruits, and we tend to eat more nuts and grains to bulk up in the cold weather.
Generally, I don’t use a lot of ingredients – I find that it makes the salad too busy and overwhelms the rest of the salad components – so I choose a combination of a few whose flavors work well together.
Next, I select an accent or two, to blend with the flavors of the veggie and fruit layer – crumbled feta cheese as the crowning touch to a Greek salad along with the briny taste of Kalamata olives, grated or shaved Parmesan to finish off an Italian insalata. Or it could be toasted walnuts with Stilton, or any other blue cheese, as a topping for spinach salad; pepitas and corn salsa on your taco salad – you get the idea. This is a fun part of the creative process.
I garnish my salads with snippings of fresh herbs – chervil, dill or fennel sprigs; snipped chives or green garlic; small leaves of mint, lemon balm, cilantro, tarragon, or larger leaves of basil or parsley cut into chiffonade. And, of course, in the height of the growing season, the showiest finish to the salad bowl is edible flowers. From dainty violets, Johnny jump-ups and pansies to petals of daylilies, calendulas, dianthus, monarda and roses to allium florets, rocket flowers and whole nasturtiums, herbal flowers lend color and flavor and an inimitable aesthetic to salad art.
A well-constructed salad needs only a simple dressing.
Extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed/expeller-pressed nut and seed oils combined with good quality balsamic, wine, rice or herb-flavored vinegars or fresh-squeezed lemon juice are the perfect accompaniment.
Fresh pressed or minced garlic, finely minced fresh or dried herbs, ground seeds, perhaps a hint of Dijon-style mustard, along with freshly ground pepper and salt are a few seasonings that might be used to enhance flavor.
When you get ready to construct your next salad, think simple, seasonal, fresh and fun, and get creative!
Italian-Style Arugula Salad
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