Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Salad Dinners

The one thing about cooking from scratch that can send a cook running for the closest restaurant is turning on the oven when it's 90 degrees outside. Nobody wants to bake inside their own home. That's why summer is great for salads. The produce is fresh, readily available and so delicious. A few nights ago, I was hot and not in the mood to cook, it was also 6:00pm. I fantasized about our recent vacation to Europe and how clean the Europeans eat. I recalled a fantastic salad I ate in Nice, France. Salad Nicoise. I thought it only appropriate that I eat the salad named for the city. You have to have an open mind and a palate willing to take on tuna, olives, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs. It's not a salad for the masses. But if you like a little adventure and don't mind the prep work, it's a fast and delicious salad to make.
Here's the prep work. The cherry tomatoes are from my garden, as well as the green beans. I blanched those for 4-5 min to get rid of the raw taste. They still had a nice crunch. I used a mix of green-leaf lettuce and Organic baby spinach. I chopped up some kalamata olives and 3 hard-boiled eggs. Then I added a can of tuna fish. You could use salmon and add anchovies as well. Use whatever you like.

I mixed it up in a large bowl and added a little dressing. In a jam jar I mixed 3 T of red wine vinegar (don't use balsamic in this salad, too heavy), 1/4 cup EVOO, sea salt, pepper and 1 T Dijon mustard. Shake and serve.

My husband even ate this, which I feared he would not. Then when my 6 year old saw us enjoying it so much, she started making herself a plate. This salad is a great source of protein, Omega-3's, vitamin C, iron, calcium and more! A healthy dinner for all!

Now I have to quickly share with you my experience and fun canning this past weekend. Canning is something we think of our grandmothers doing. I remember looking in my grandmother's pantry and seeing all these tall jars stocked with green beans when I was little. So, now it's my turn. More people are canning these days and preserving a little bit of summer as we do. I've made a dozen or so jars of strawberry jelly thus far and now I've got 16 pints and 2 quarts of homemade salsa. All the tomatoes were from my garden - 20 pounds of them!! I harvested a pound of hot peppers and bought the rest of the ingredients from the farmer's market. Overall I used 20 lbs of tomatoes, 5 lbs. of hot and sweet peppers, 5 lbs. of onions (sweet and green), 2 bunches of cilantro, 12 cloves of garlic, 10 tsp of sea salt and 4 cups of white vinegar. It's the recipe from the Ball Blue Book, almost tripled. I had my neighbors over to help with all the chopping.

Here's what five pounds of peppers looks like. The small red ones and green jalapenos are from my garden!
Peppers chopped up and ready for the tomatoes! Make sure you wear gloves and protective eye wear is not a bad idea either!

Everything is chopped and ready to cook. It has to boil for 10 minutes. Then it's ready for the canner.

Bottling up my liquid gold! It's fiery too! Nothing beats fresh salsa in the dead of winter!
There's still time for you to try this. Head to the nearest Farmer's Market and pick up a few pounds of tomatoes! Till next week!
Eat real food!

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