June 25, 2012

Garden Fresh Eats

 Our urban garden is already producing an abundance of fresh romaine and artisan lettuces, many herbs, peas, and peppers.  We are anxiously awaiting the ripening of the dozens upon dozens of green tomatoes and tomatillos of numerous types, broccoli, celery, summer squash, cucumber, and strawberries, but for now, all the fixings of a good fresh salad are still available.

Something about the summer heat makes cool salads all the more appealing.  My daughter and I like to walk along the garden, large colander in hand, picking out some lettuce and fresh herbs.  Ideally, it's best to harvest in the cool early morning or evening, but if I'm picking mid-day in the heat, I only take whatever I want to eat just-then for ultimate freshness and to disrupt the plant as little as possible.  I rinse the greens in cold water immediately, to help perk up heat-wilted lettuce leaves, then tear up the lettuce and basil leaves, mixing the fresh leafy herbs right in with the lettuce.  For this salad I used basil and lemon thyme.

I like to add fresh herbs right in with the greens because it's a great flavorful addition, and I don't have to add more calorie-filled options to get a complex flavor.  I also added some orange and yellow sweet peppers, sliced grape tomatoes, and a spoonful of feta, with a drizzle of Greek vinaigrette.  Instead of croutons or a slice of bread, I used a warm, crispy tortilla bowl.

These are so easy to make and they really jazz up a simple salad!  For even more flavor, you can use specialty tortillas like whole wheat, spinach, or roasted red pepper.  Preheat your oven to 425, and preheat a couple ceramic or oven-safe bowls or ramekins placed upside down on a cookie tray.  Brush your tortillas on both sides with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle on a spice of choice (I used paprika) and a pinch of salt.  When your oven and ramekins are pre-heated, brush the top (the bottom of the bowls) with a little olive oil and lay your tortillas over them, gently shaping them around the bowls, pinching here and there to secure the bowl shape.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden crispy brown.  Let them cool a bit, then gently pull them off the ramekins.  Wait until you're ready to eat to fill with the greens, as you don't want the salad to wilt with the heat of the tortillas.


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