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Salad Days are Back Again, (Vegetable Salads, That Is)

June 11, 2012 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Salad Days are Back Again, (Vegetable Salads, That Is)

Not necessarily lettuce salads if the temperature is climbing, but certainly vegetables salads are here in summer glory. These vegetables, except for the avocado, were all from my garden, but they’re the very same ones that are looking their best at the market, too. Lettuce doesn’t like hot weather – it turns bitter and is reluctant to grow well, so summer is really a season for salads based on heartier stuff.  They can be a stand-alone meal or they can go with something heartier from the grill. 

Here’s a salad for two that can be lunch or a light supper, or a first course to a larger meal. Salads like these are always improvisational for there are other vegetables and ingredients that can go on this plate, too. Consider steamed broccoli nubbins or cauliflower florets, the last of the local asparagus, tomatoes when they come into season, new potatoes, previously cooked artichokes, or cucumbers.  And in the “other” department: capers, olives, curls of hard cheese or toast covered with ricotta— pretty much whatever you can think of that you like to eat.

Having beets steamed and on hand can make the preparation go very easily and quickly. It’s a good practice to get into as they can be turned into endlessly varied and beautiful salads.

Ingredients
2 golden, red, or Chioggia beets
2 handfuls of sugar snap peas
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 small avocado, halved, then scooped out and sliced crosswise
dill sprigs
lettuce, if available, washed and torn
1 lemon
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

First steam the beets:  cut off the greens (if in good shape, plan to eat them!), leave an inch of the stems and the tails, then steam them over simmering water until a knife goes in easily, with just a little pressure. This can take anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the beet. (These can also be done days in advance, the beets refrigerated in their skins.)

When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the beets with your hands, or peel them. Slice them into wedges.

Bring a little water to a boil, add the peas, and cook just long enough for them to turn bright green. Pour them into a colander and rinse quickly to cool. Put them on a towel to dry.

Line two plates with the lettuce, if you have it.  Divide the beet wedges, peas, radishes and avocados between the plates. Season both plates with a few pinches of salt.  Squeeze lemon juice over lightly the vegetables, followed by a tablespoon or two of olive oil on each. Garnish with the dill sprigs and enjoy.

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