When I say “garden salad,” what comes to mind? Is it the familiar restaurant plate of colorless iceberg lettuce with pinky-red tomato bits that are covered with a mass-produced dressing? Maybe it’s their sometimes-greener version with a Romaine, a bit of shredded carrot and—if you’re lucky—some contrasting purple cabbage. Get ready for a true garden salad that is a veritable symphony of flavors, colors and texture.
I start with a variety of summer greens that also includes fresh herbs like basil, Italian parsley and mint—torn, not chopped. The larger pieces of herbs work as greens and add an intense flavor not possible with finely chopped leaves. While they are best picked fresh from the garden, you’ll find everything at your local farmers market or in the produce section of most supermarkets.
Summer brings a bounty of luscious tomatoes in all colors, sizes and varieties. I often mix the larger ones with a handful of sweet, multicolored cherry tomatoes for variety.
Grilled purple onions, orange and yellow peppers, and different squash add a smoky depth of flavor to the salad. This may seem like lots of extra work, but I always grill my veggies in big batches so I’ve got plenty on hand for lunches, weeknight meals, and salads.
With this medley of strong flavors, the dressing should be simple but have a sweet bite to set everything off. Good quality balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper is perfection.
Summer Garden Salad
4 cups mixed greens
2 cups grilled mixed vegetables
1 cup red, yellow or orange tomatoes, cut in eights
½ cup basil leaves, roughly torn
¼ cup Italian parsley, leaves only
¼ cup mint leaves, roughly torn
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Place the mixed greens in a salad bowl.
2. Cut the grilled vegetables into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad.
4. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley and mint leaves.
5. Combe the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a spacious bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil, forming an emulsion. For detailed instructions read, “How to Make an Emulsion“.
6. Dress the salad with the oil and vinegar and toss gently to coat.
6. Serve immediately.
Preparation time: 5 minutes with pre-grilled vegetables and prepared salad dressing.