Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I am head over heels for salads. I like to add textures and layers. Persian cucumbers, carrots, garden peas, celery, chopped fennel and whatever else wets my whistle. Recently at Whole Foods, I picked up the most questionable looking bunch of organic radishes I had ever seen. In fact, I paused with hesitation while tucking them into a bag. Upon arrival at home and after a bit of tender washing to remove the dirt and sand, I chopped them finely and threw them into a bowl. These magenta beauties yielded the most spectacular texture. Crunchy and lovely. They were speckled on the interior and full of flavor. Fact: I will never buy the stemless ones packed in a bag ever again. 

My two newest favorite salad additions include pepitas or raw pumpkin seeds as well as black sesame seeds. The latter I ordered on amazon and they were on my doorstep in a day. I like to quickly toast both on high heat to release what makes them special. I am 99% off of dairy these days but every once in a while I break habit and add a generous handful of aged bleu, salty pecorino or a sheep's milk variant. You have to live a little after all. As for lettuce, my new favorites are Boston, which is soft, buttery and clings adoringly to homemade vinaigrette. The best calls for 1/3 cup of great quality extra virgin olive oil, 1 - 2 TBS red wine or apple cider vinegar, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 dollop of French mustard, a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Throw all ingredients into a mason jar, shake and voila. This will last in the fridge for a pair of days. I am always a stickler for romaine and cabbage, both of which we sometimes throw on the grill to char before making a meal of them. Green and red onions are also divine on the burner.

The very best part about salads these days however is the herbs I clip nightly from our backyard. Once upon a time we ventured to Lowe's, purchased three massive pots, topsoil, a medley of fresh herbs, Miracle Grow and spray to discourage the critters from eating the fertile leaves before we do. Over the years, we have experimented with what works best when my green thumbs are in charge. This year, we have a cornucopia of basil galore, thyme, flat leaf parsley, chives, cilantro and mint. Any and every opportunity I have to add these to lunch or supper, I seize. It is quite remarkable how a simple herb can set the tone and help shape a dish. The below is light, refreshing and simply divine. Throw everything into a bowl, prepare your vinaigrette on the side and dress with your hands. Pairs beautifully with anything hot off the grill. It's pretty fantastic on its own too. Bon Appetit.

How Does Your Garden Grow Salad

You Will Need

1 cup of garden peas - cook these according to instruction
1 head of Boston lettuce
4 TBS bleu cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
2 TBS olive oil
5 radishes - chopped
2 TBS fresh chives - chopped
2 TBS fresh basil - chopped
2 TBS fresh thyme
2 green onions - chopped
2 TBS black sesame seeds - toasted
Kosher salt
Cracked pepper

* Note I have also made this identical salad adding chopped mango and julienned carrots. The combination of sweet mango with the savory cheese is quite brilliant.

Easy As Pie

1. In a large serving dish or bowl, add your chopped Boston lettuce, garden peas, green onions, herbs and bleu cheese. 

2. In a side bowl, mix your lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Now is the time to add a pinch of kosher salt and some cracked pepper. Give a quick whisk.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with your hands.

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