Saturday, June 6, 2009

Farmers Marketing Salad

Not all produce is created equal. You probably already know this. You have been on this earth for long enough to have been disappointed by a bitter head of lettuce. You have experienced a sharp, spicy radish and then on another occasion popped a red specimen into your mouth expecting the nasal cleansing, eye watering snap and instead been met with a soft watery crunch. The difference between a seasonal bite of apple and an unseasonable bite of mealy apple mush is undeniable. Even the right vegetable packaged in unfortunate circumstances can be forever tainted by the aroma of plastic. It is important to choose carefully when buying for salad. 
Downtown Saint Paul is a quiet little city. It has all the hustle and bustle of a major city, but with none of the anonymity. The same band of homeless people still trek down the street from day shelter to night shelter every day, toting their sleeping bags and speaking their own language like kids at a slumber party. The same faces cluster in the coffee shop every Saturday morning, huddled in groups and looking over shoulders and out from behind heavy folded grey papers to sniff out the real news for the day. 
During the summer farmers market, the sleepy square six flights down from our apartment window transforms into an island of booming metropolis between the hours of 6am and 1pm, but this luxury is only reserved for the weekends. As I walked through the drizzling rain, cloaked with a hooded sweatshirt, herding through a traffic blocked intersection shoulder to shoulder with swift moving warm bodies, I felt, for an instant, like I was in New York. It didn't take long to run into a familiar face, and hear "Joe told me your doing a salad thing" and "hey Emily, what's the salad for today" for me to regain my sense of place. 
Here in Saint Paul, we love our locals. 
At the farmers market, I sampled peas and bargained for the spiciest radishes. I sampled cheeses, and learned about green eggs. Today's salad is in honor of the farmers who picked pea pods, bent over to cut greens, pulled green onions, dug radishes with pitchforks, and appreciated the dirt in their nails and the sun on their backs to help bring food to our tables. 

Buttermilk dill dressing:
Dice 2 green onions
add 2 cloves spicy garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp low fat buttermilk
some lemon pepper
Blend in mini Cuisinart or using some sort of blender

When you pick your produce for this salad, make sure you taste everything..I know, I know. You feel a little guilty about tasting something before you buy it. If you are the upstanding, law abiding type, ask the vendor for permission. On most occasions they will happily abide, even in the grocery store produce department it is acceptable to ask to taste the produce before you buy it. Most people don't know they can do this. Some people don't want to take the time. Others don't really care to taste their food. They are happy to be sold the idea of a carrot, and can use their imaginations to fill in the gaps of flavor that might be missing. I have, on different occasions, fallen into all of these categories. 

Choose baby mixed greens that are sweet. When mixed greens are allowed to grow for too long, they turn bitter. Choose sugar snap peas that are sweet and crunchy, the dressing has no sugar in it and needs the sweetness from the peas. Choose radishes that are spicy, or if you prefer choose the mild ones. If you don't like radishes you can substitute cucumbers or kohlrabi

Christina's vote: "I'd take this salad over a bacon and egg breakfast anyday (we ate this salad at 10 am)"   


  1. wish i was christina. lucky lady. i want to be fed 90 salads in 90 days.

  2. This looks delicious. I am absolutely going to try it! Even better that everything in it is safe for my allergy diet. Thanks for such an interesting and visually pleasing blog!

    -Liz, friend of Mer Lodge