Once the backyard veggie garden is planted, half the fun and excitement is waiting for the first harvest. The earliest things that I have seen (besides rhubarb) are many of the returning perennials, like sorrel, chives, mint or other herbs, radishes and different varieties of lettuce.
When the lettuce comes in, there is a window of opportunity to eat it before it bolts to flower and the leaves become bitter. Nothing beats this freshly-picked lettuce and other early crops to make a wonderful summer salad. A nice base is a combination of romaine leaves and spicy arugula, with a bit of chopped mint and a little bit of dill. It’s also fun to mix lettuces: leaf lettuce, boston, romaine and sorrel.
Artfully arrange brightly-coloured additions on top of the greens, such as:
- Radish slices
- Green onions or chives
- Diced cucumber
- Halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
- Seeds (sunflower or pumpkin)
- Edible flowers (zucchini blossoms or nasturtiums)
- Fresh fruit (berries, sliced peaches or nectarines, pears)
Finally, a fresh, creamy oil-free dressing using the herbs from your garden.
Creamy Herb Dressing (Oil-Free)
- High-Speed Blender
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 10 to 15 minutes
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of at least 3 different herbs in 1/4 cup measures - basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, oregano, marjoram, lovage, thyme or mint)
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- lemon or lime juice from 1/2 a lemon or lime
- 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth, drizzled in as required to thin the dressing
- Salt to taste
- Soak raw cashews for 10 or 15 minutes
- Drain cashews and add to high-speed blender, along with all of the herbs, garlic and lemon juice
- Blend at high speed until creamy consistency is reached. If dressing is too thick, thin with a little water or vegetable broth
- Season with salt to taste - not too much salt!
- Drizzle over arranged salads or use as dip for crudités
- Will keep in refrigerator for up to a week