This salad resulted from a mixed bunch of stuff I picked out of the garden one day. I picked off two or three handfuls of green beans. There were a few broccoli side shoots, maybe eight or so, and that evening, three green patty pan squashes slightly smaller than my palm. There weren’t enough of any one of these to make a decent showing by itself. However, taken together there was enough for us and company.
To prepare the vegetables I took the stem ends off the green beans, and sliced a few of the oversized ones lengthwise. I took the strings off the peas and broke them in half. I trimmed leaves off the broccoli but they were already bite-sized. The patty pans I cut into sixths.
I am a firm believer in blanching veggies if you are eating them raw or in a salad. It makes them look pretty — bright colors, and it develops the flavor just a little, especially in green beans, squash and broccoli. So that is what I did: dunked them in the hot water for about a minute, and drained them.
At this point you can decide whether to have a hot dish or let them cool down for a salad. If I am having company, I like to blanch veggies earlier and then again at the last minute. I put a little butter, olive oil and chopped onion or shallots in a sauté pan, heat them up until I can smell them, then I dump the veggies in, flipping them around to make sure they get hot, then I serve them. I’ve been known to put salad dressing on warm cooked vegetables before serving them, vinaigrette-type dressings being my favorites for that.
For a salad, I drain the vegetables after blanching and let them cool. You could also use leftover cooked vegetables for salad, not to mention a diced-up cucumber.
I am in favor of using a favorite salad dressing, whatever it is. This time around, I was experimenting with a creamy tarragon dressing, but a plain vinaigrette would be fine and so would good old mayonnaise with lots of herbs in it. Then there are all those bottled dressings.
If you needed to stretch this salad, some cooked pasta would be a good addition: bows, penne, radiatore, rotini, any prettily shaped pasta. You could turn it into a main dish by adding chicken, ham or shrimp — I used leftover grilled chicken. Well, I grilled more than I knew we would eat so I would have some to work with.
Here is the Tarragon Vinaigrette I used on my vegetable and chicken salad.
Looking for … blueberry jam with apple.
Iris Simon in Lamoine wrote: “We had a freezer malfunction so my many blueberries were partially thawed and lost their individual shape but they could be used for jelly/jam. I am looking for a recipe that uses apple juice and applesauce in the recipe. It gives great body to the jam but does not take away the taste of the blueberries.” I love the idea of jam without pectin. Anyone?
Yields a scant cup of dressing.
1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon, finely minced
¾ cup of olive or other vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Using a food processor, blender, or bowl and whisk, combine the vinegar, juice, and tarragon, and slowly add the oil in a steady stream with the blade running or whisking continuously by hand. Add salt and pepper, taste, adjust seasonings and if too tart, add a little sugar. The tarragon flavor will develop if you let the dressing rest for a couple of hours before you use it.
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