I have good news – the woolen underwear is officially being moved to the back shelf of the closet. You know as well as I that this means Winter has finally left the Green Mountains and we have a brief but blissful run of good weather to look forward to. This isn’t the only sign of Summer to be seen; trees have greened, the roadsides are crowded with the faces of eager wildflowers and town greens and city parks are filling up with tents and stands on the weekends – Farmer’s Markets are back in session.
After banishing the winter clothing, my all-time favorite warm weather activity is wandering around at Farmer’s Markets, and we have some wonderful local markets to wander! This is the time in the season when vendor’s stands are usually overflowing with vibrant, fresh-picked greens in all shapes and sizes; spicy Arugula, mild baby spinach, tender Butter Crunch, the ever-elegant Deer Tongue, and an array of wild greens and herbs – I am terribly tempted to bring my salad dressing with me and dine out – one salad to go, please! After a long winter of store-bought iceberg lettuce, I am practically starved for fresh greens and the sight of them in lovely rows on market benches makes my heart want to skip a beat, and then dig in for lunch…
If I were going to bring my own dressing (I think this could become a popular way to do summer parties – a BYOD salad bar…) I would definitely choose this one, Strawberry Balsamic Dressing. Not only is it exceedingly delicious, but it’s so simple to make and takes about five minutes – Tops. I call it a dressing, but it’s really more of a glaze, which means that the consistency is such that it really holds onto the greens, making every bite a Flavor Explosion. One of our local markets has recently announced that their strawberries are ripe and for the picking, and how perfect is that? Fresh local greens with a homemade, fresh strawberry dressing -it’s a match made in Vermont Summer Food Heaven!
Spring Greens with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
1/2 cup crushed strawberries
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
salt and pepper to taste
A Mix of Fresh Spring Greens
The strawberries, balsamic vinegar and ginger mingle together into a tart, spicy, sweet sort of sauce that perfectly compliments the sturdy texture and often piquant flavor of early greens.
I threw all the ingredients in the bowl of my dear little food processor and zinged away until everything was well blended and then tossed a bit of with my salad greens. Viola! I told you it would be quick! It should be the consistency of a creamy dressing, but it has the health benefits of a vinaigrette, the calorie count being less than 55 calories per serving (2-3 Tablespoons).
This recipe could easily be adapted throughout the summer to showcase different fruits as they come into their season. Once the strawberries have faded, how about using farm fresh raspberries, or wild blueberries and then ripe peaches? The possibilities are nearly endless.
The salad mix I used included young dandelion greens, baby romaine, two types of oak-leaf lettuce, young swiss chard greens and baby spinach, but feel free to mix your own depending on what the local markets are offering. I have found that if you aren’t sure about the flavor of a certain type of green, the vendor will usually let you have a taste. They are as eager to have their customers enjoy the product as they are for them to purchase it and they love introducing people to the goodness of fresh produce.
So be bold – go wander your local market and see what has sprung up with the fair skies and warmer temperatures. Just be sure to bring your dressing with you when you go!