Summer Salads: Part Pickle

by Erin Enouen

cart veggiesWhen I think of salad, I think of lettuce, veggies and a delicious dressing. What to do though in peak summer, when the eager gardener often has many a vegetable, but no lettuce in sight?

That's where the pickly salad comes in. Perhaps its my mid-western upbringing, but this time of year I long for those vinegary, sometimes sweet salads that are best after 1-2 days in the refrigerator. They are perfect for preparing a weekend's abundant harvest for the work week, make a great after-work-pre-dinner-snack, and are, of course perfect picnic or potluck dishes. And, if you do happen to have some succulent lettuce, just serve one of these salads on top, no additional dressing required.


Grandma's 3-Bean Salad

My grandmother moved to Oklahoma in the 70s from Pittsburgh, PA. She was a first generation Italian American, whose Italian father always had a huge garden that provided all the produce the family needed. She used to make this salad for me growing up, but always out of canned beans--a result of the culture of convenience foods that emerged in her young adulthood. Now I've gone full circle, making this "quick salad" out of home grown produce, and my grandmother is thrilled that I am.

For the dressing:

1-2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh or dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the salad:

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups yellow wax bean, such as Pencil Pod

2 cups green beans, such as Provider

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1. Prepare the green and wax beans: trim the ends and cut in half.

2. Blanch the beans by placing in boiling water for 1 minute, then strain and immediately dunk into an ice water bath.

3.Whisk the dressing ingredients together well.

4. Toss the prepared beans, the kidney beans and the onion in a bowl, top with the dressing and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before eating. Will keep for at least 1 week.


IMG_3783Cucumber Salad

My mom's cucumber salad will always be my favorite, and nobody makes it like her! It seems like a lot of oil, but the liquid from the cukes expresses out and really waters the dressing down.

For the dressing:

3/4 cup oil (Since olive oil hardens when it chills, an organic vegetable oil is best.)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

plenty of salt and pepper

For the salad:

6 large cucumbers

1 large onion

1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.

2. Peel onion and slice in half lengthwise. Slice each half as thinly as possible. Place in large bowl.

3. Add dressing to onions. (This helps infuse the dressing with the onion, and lessen the onion flavor.)

4. Prepare cucumbers: Peel the cucumbers and with a sharp knife slice as thin as possible.

4. Toss with onion/dressing mixture. Taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour before serving. Will keep up to 5 days in the fridge.


IMG_3781Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad

aka Sexy Spicy Broccoli

From Melissa Clark, published in the New York Times here.

This recipe revolutionized broccoli for me. Though I love growing it, I am not the biggest fan of eating it. You have to cook it just right, otherwise it can be awful. In this recipe, the broccoli is tossed with salt and vinegar while the rest of the salad is prepared, then allowed to chill. The broccoli comes out as if perfectly cooked, and the flavors are incredible. I always up the vinegar to 3 TBS and salt a bit here too--I prefer a bit more tang. This is hands down my favorite broccoli preparation. View the recipe here, and Melissa Clark's essay on naming broccoli salad here.

This blog is provided by the Hudson Valley Seed Library, a small group of dedicated growers and plant lovers working to provide good seed to gardeners and small farmers. Your purchases support our work. Thanks!