Marvelous Main Dish Market Salads

Summer is here and I am there. Where? At my local farmers’ market, of course, a couple times each week. One of my favorite hot-weather-hate-to-cook meals is the French Salade Niçoise: lettuce, new potatoes, green beans, tuna (fresh or canned), hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes, dressed in vinaigrette. It is the perfect main-dish salad and requires very little cooking (just hard boil eggs, blanch green beans and cook potatoes in their skins).

While I was shopping for these ingredients I had a eureka! moment: there before me were stalls, baskets, crates, bins and bags of fresh ingredients that could be made into new, exciting Main Dish Market Salads. So I loaded up with garden-fresh lettuces, just picked peppers and other veggies and fruits, and rushed home.

market ingredients 2

Once there I sorted the produce into informal groups and came up with the Rule of Five Plus One: To make a great main-dish market salad, choose five main ingredients (four fruits or vegetables plus one protein), arrange these on top of chopped fresh greens tossed with dressing, and voila! the perfect summer meal. I serve my salads with gluten-free bread or biscuits (find great recipes in Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen), or even a Gluten-Free Pasta Salad.

market ingredients

So far I have created three new salads and my family gave them all rave reviews: Farmers’ Market Spinach Salad, Farmers’ Market Fruit Salad, and Farmers’ Market Italian Salad.

Okay, I bent my own rules. Some of the salads have two proteins. And yes, now that I have created and tasted them I will be serving them all year round. They make a great presentation for a buffet or dinner party.

You can present them in almost any large container: a white lasagna casserole, the favorite 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish, and even a giant salad bowl. And the vinaigrette recipes with each salad are quick and easy, but if you have a favorite prepared gluten-free dressing, by all means, use that.

fruit salad

Spinach is so fresh in summer, especially baby spinach. Just swish it in a lot of cold water to rinse off the sand, and then spin it in a salad spinner. Mushrooms and tomatoes are also at their best, firm and crisp. The addition of ham and blue cheese makes this salad substantial and satisfying.

spinach salad 1

Tip: Save the mushroom stems and use them in stocks, or else trim the ends and slice them for use in vegetable soup.

Farmers’ Market Spinach Salad

Yield: 8 Servings

Farmers’ Market Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 cups packed baby spinach, washed, spun dry
  • ½ cup Bacon Vinaigrette, recipe follows, or prepared dressing such as poppy seed
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled, quartered
  • 1 (8-ounce) package white mushrooms, caps only, thinly sliced
  • 1 ¼ cups crumbed blue cheese (5 ounces)
  • 1 rounded cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups julienned cooked ham

Instructions

  1. In a large salad bowl, toss greens well with the vinaigrette. Arrange greens in a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
  2. Top with alternating rows of eggs, mushrooms, cheese, tomatoes and ham.
  3. Serve using salad tongs.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

Bacon Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons prepared bacon bits
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot Hungarian paprika, preferably Szeged brand
  • ½ cup canola oil

Instructions

  1. Place vinegar, water and all ingredients except oil in a small bowl.
  2. Whisk to dissolve sugar and salt. Add oil and whisk to emulsify.
  3. Store, refrigerated, in a container with a tight lid until ready to use. Before using, whisk to emulsify.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

Heads of Romaine lettuce (very Italian) are stacked in all their green, leafy glory at my farmers’ market. Hard to resist!

italian salad 1

Add red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, and ripe cantaloupe, and all that is missing is Parmesan, pine nuts and some good hard salami. I like to toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, stirring for about 7 minutes. They burn fast, so when they begin to change color I transfer them to a paper plate to cool.

Farmers’ Market Italian Salad

Yield: 8 Servings

Farmers’ Market Italian Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped Romaine, packed
  • ½ cup Italian Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or prepared Italian dressing
  • 1 cup julienne strips of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped cantaloupe
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts (3 ounces)
  • 1 cup julienne strips of good salami (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan (5 ounces)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, toss Romaine with dressing. Transfer to a large 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
  2. Top with alternating rows of peppers, cantaloupe, pine nuts, salami and Parmesan.
  3. Serve using salad tongs.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

Italian Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cider or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place vinegar, water and all ingredients except oil in a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar and salt. Add oil and whisk to emulsify.
  2. Store, refrigerated, in a container with a tight lid until ready to use. Before using, whisk to emulsify.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

I like to combine fresh ripe fruit with artisanal lettuces such as baby greens, young frisee (curly endive), little red lettuces, radicchio and more. Swiss cheese complements fruit, and a honey-mustard vinaigrette seems to pull all the flavors together. 

Farmers’ Market Fruit Salad

Yield: 8 Servings

Farmers’ Market Fruit Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped artisanal lettuce, packed
  • ½ cup Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or prepared dressing
  • 2 ripe pears, peel on, cored, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup diced mango or cantaloupe
  • 1 cup halved kiwi slices
  • 1 cup julienned Swiss cheese (4 ounces)

Instructions

  1. In a very large bowl, toss lettuce with dressing.
  2. Arrange remaining ingredients in concentric circles with cheese in the middle.
  3. Using salad tongs, serve from the bowl.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Canola oil

Instructions

  1. Place vinegar, water and all ingredients except oil in a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar and salt. Add oil and whisk to emulsify.
  2. Store, refrigerated, in a container with a tight lid until ready to use. Before using, whisk to emulsify.
  3. Tip: Spray measuring spoon with nonstick cooking spray before measuring honey. It will slide off the spoon easily.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/marvelous-main-dish-market-salads/

 Next time you are at the farmers’ market or even in the produce aisle of your local supermarket, remember the Five Plus One Rule and create your own Main Dish Market Salad. Then tell me all about it!

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