Farmer’s Market Salad

September 15, 2015

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

One of the best things about summer (and there are lots of good things) is our local farmer’s market here in Hudson. We have a small one in my town, right on the green in the middle of the city. On Saturday mornings I find a wide variety of fresh picked produce to experiment with in the coming week. I never know what’s going to say “buy me” but my basket is always full as I walk back to my car parked on Division Street.

This past weekend I picked up the ingredients for a big farmer’s market salad of fresh cranberry beans, purple runner beans, toy box tomatoes, tiny new potatoes, mixed greens, corn and other tasty things. I have fresh oregano, basil and thyme in my yard to toss in as well. Yes, it was so delish we didn’t even miss the meat.

I always make my own vinaigrette. It’s as easy as 1,2,3 and will reward your taste buds with a more delicate flavor than most packaged dressings provide. I think the shallot makes this dressing come alive. It helps to have good vinegars and olive oils to choose from as well. One of my favorites is sherry vinegar, but I have a lot of fun with flavored vinegars such as fig, peach or pomegranate. Fresh extra virgin olive oil is essential to a good salad so if you don’t use it often be sure to buy it in small bottles and so use it up quickly.

So, here you go…an inspiration recipe for a simple summer salad. No need to heat up the house or the grill. Enjoy it while it lasts.

It’s that easy: It would be simple to add a small can of tuna to this salad if you want to make it more substantial. Or you could add sliced hard boiled eggs. Or both.

5 new potatoes, sliced in 1/2-in pieces
1 cup shelled cranberry beans
2 handfuls purple runner or green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons white wine or sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 sprigs chopped fresh thyme, stripped from the stem
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 handfuls mixed greens
4 or 5 branches basil, stemmed and torn
4 or 5 stems parsley, stemmed
2 handfuls toy box tomatoes, halved
1 ear corn, kernels cut from the cob
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Bring a 3-qt saucepan of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt. Add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a big bowl. Add the cranberry beans and simmer for about 10 minutes then add the runner beans and cook another 5 minutes or until the cranberry beans are tender and the runner beans are crisp tender. Drain in a colander in the sink and run cold water over them to cool them down. Pat dry on paper towels and transfer to the bowl with the potatoes.

Add the shallot to a medium bowl along with the vinegar, mustard, orange zest, salt, pepper and thyme. Whisk the ingredients together and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes for the salt to dissolve and the flavors to blend.

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing forms an emulsion or blends together. Set aside.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the potatoes and beans and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if it needs it. Toss in the greens, basil, parsley, tomatoes and corn and drizzle some of the remaining dressing on the salad. Toss and taste. Be careful not to overdress the salad. There shouldn’t be any dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Add more if it needs it.

Serve right away with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a scattering of crumbled feta.

In the glass: Sauvignon blanc for me. A bottle from Frog’s Leap or Edna Valley would be just the ticket.


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