Bring holiday salads to the backyard

Cooking up a celebration isn’t only about firing up the grill and chilling the drinks. Why not bring a healthy variety of salad, fresh veggies and seasonal fruit to the mix. Colorful red, white and blue is as deliciously edible as it is appropriate for summer gatherings from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but they’re especially welcome on the Fourth! Here’s how to do it right without spending all day in the kitchen:

Whether you pick fresh from your own garden or shop at your neighborhood market, choose a variety of lettuce and other greens, fresh herbs that can include mint, lavender, tarragon or sage. Then shop for perfectly ripe watermelon, grapes, cherries or berries — wherever your taste buds lead you. Toss your ingredients together at the last minute, drizzle with a raspberry vinaigrette or a white balsamic vinegar and oil dressing, and top with crumbled feta or herbed goat cheese. It’s a sweet take on traditional; it’s a great side with brisket and fried chicken, or it can be a welcome palate pleaser between the meat course and the brownies.

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For another non-traditional option, create a lighter version of traditional potato salad using leafy lettuce in colors ranging from pale green to deep purple. Add miniature boiled potatoes (skin on) in a mix of white, red and purple, and then choose at least three different tomato families to add zest and more color. Rather than a creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing, whip up a light, flavorful vinaigrette of oil and vinegar, Dijon and either German or deli-style mustard and simple spices. Garnish with fresh parsley and you’ll have guests clamoring for seconds.

We sampled these recipes and have to testify that they’re both good enough to eat! They can also be the base formula for healthy food any night of the week. Just add a hamburger, grilled chicken or fish, and ice cream and cookies. Use what you have at hand; keep it simple and fresh and it’s sure to please. 100_5628

The garden bounty is all around us now — cucumbers, red and daikon radish, leeks, avocado, squash, zucchini, cauliflower and a whole host of others. If you get tired of salad, toss a few vegetables on the grill!

Pull out your colorful linens and serving pieces, and your favorite grilling book, and move to the backyard for a homemade feast, for a special occasion or just for a weekend with the family. It’ll lift your spirits and satisfy your appetite!

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If you’ve been out to The Farm recently, or visited us at either Grand Prairie Farmers Market or Tyler Street Market, you may know that we have two greenhouses with lettuce and other greens in various stages of growth. We are discontinuing our kale and chard for a bit — there hasn’t been a lot of call for them at the markets and they don’t much like the heat. We’ll plant new varieties in the fall.

We also have tomato vines that we’re vining in the demonstration greenhouse. Stay tuned for further information about our “Training Day.”

For now, though, the news we’re just bursting to share is all about salads. Watch for the big announcement next week. Until then, we hope your holiday was safe, and filled with friends, family and good food. Enjoy the rest of the week.

 

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