I have a dear friend and coworker who just so happens to be a master of all trades. He is an incredible florist and stylist, and most recently, just added farmer to that list. This spring he took up a 2-acre (!!) plot of land at a local community garden. The past couple of weeks have yielded him generous rewards; it's been a good growing season in the South. On the days we work together he always brings in a salad using the latest of his just-plucked veggies. On any given day his lunch might include yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, corn, and beans and greens of any kind. It's a sight to behold, and an inspiration for anyone looking to get a few more vitamins into their diet. After noticing his coworkers' envious glances, he started doubling and tripling the size of his Tupperware. Now we all stand around eating from the communal bowl, some of us with spoons and the less-civilized with our fingers. I immediately feel a certain glow after eating his glorious produce, which tastes sweet and nutritious and fresh-from-the-earth all at the same time. I finally decided to whip up this salad for myself at home. It involves almost no labor except for the salad dressing, and you could eliminate the blender for that if you wanted to. I won't judge either way. Heck, this salad barely even needs a recipe. Just consider it more of an inspiration than anything.
Raw Vegetable Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing
Serves as many or as few as you'd likeFor the dressing 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 clove garlic, sliced 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup olive oil 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper Additional salt and pepper, to taste For the salad Yellow squash and zucchini, thinly sliced Sugar snap peas Edamame and/or field peas Red bell pepper, thinly sliced Fresh salad greens For the dressing, combine the red wine vinegar, garlic, Dijon, sugar, and salt in a blender, and puree until the garlic is minced. With the blender running, very slowly add the oil in a thin stream and blend until creamy. Stir in chopped bell pepper and season with additional salt and pepper. For the salad, toss the vegetables (without the greens) in a desired amount of vinaigrette and marinate for about 15 minutes. Pile the vegetables onto the salad greens and season with salt and pepper. You could also wait to toss the salad at the table, but I would still marinate the squash and zucchini in dressing for 15 minutes beforehand.
Related: Recipe: Black-eyed Pea Salad (Images: Nealey Dozier)