The thing about summer salads is they are totally versatile, interchangeable and flexible. In summer, seasonal veggies are overflowing out of the farmers’ market, CSA boxes, the supermarket and even neighbors’ gardens. Thus it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to run to the store to buy recipe-called-for-broccoli when asparagus from the neighbor is bursting out of your refrigerator’s veggie bin. Case-in-point is this delicious recipe from Cooking Light for Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates and Orange; here are all the changes I made to the original recipe:
- The cupboard was bare of quinoa, I swapped in barley
- My refrigerator was overflowing with spring onions from Dad’s garden, so I replaced the white onions with spring onion bulbs
- Ditto as above for the called-for red onions, only I used the green tops of the spring onions
- No pecans, only walnuts in my freezer
- Lots of mint in my garden, so I added more
Which is why the Cooking Light Big Book of Salads is a great resource.
It’s organized with sections on Vinaigrettes, Dressings & Toppings; Greens & Vegetables; Poultry & Meat; Pasta, Breads, Beans & Grains. So when I decided I was craving the flavors of Spain after reading this post from my favorite French blog, I searched through the Salads book and found this salad with the Spanish combo of mint, oranges, dates and peppery spice. But knowing I had no quinoa, I subbed barley from a recipe one page over. The result: Tastes full of Spanish sunshine on my plate with the sweet citrus and dates cutting the jalapeno spice…chewy, hearty barley…and lemon juice, salt, and mint in the dressing to bring it all into balance.
Which ingredients to you have on hand right now…with which to make a hearty summer salad? We’d love to know!