Summer Chopped Vegetable Salad With Miso Vinaigrette
Friday, August 15, 2014
Ok, step away from the zucchini bread. Seriously, how much of the stuff can you eat ever summer? Wait, what?! Chocolate zucchini bread you say? Well in that case…
Perhaps you got a little carried away with your whole “I’m going to grow my own vegetables this year. Just me, a few seeds and the earth and I’ll be living off the land all summer” experiment. And now….you find yourself, standing in the middle of your garden patch, knee-deep in zucchini. Giant, intimidating (taunting) zucchini.
Not feeling so “I can’t believe you don’t grow your own food” now are you, hipster-in-training??
While I love scent of the the leaves of a tomato plant and the sight of fresh salad greens growing in orderly rows, I discovered a long time ago that I don’t like gardening. I had a colleague who would wax poetic all summer about how she found weeding so relaxing. I think the word she used was ‘meditative’. Well, who doesn’t need a little zen (and some fresh basil) in their world? I was so enamored by the idea of planting flowers, vegetables and herbs that I pretty much overlooked all of the little details that growing things entail. You know, like digging in the dirt, plotting out space…(giant, fat, slimy) earthworms. My first attempt at planting tulip and daffodil bulbs ended in my coming face to face with a “night crawler”. Maybe not so much face-to-face, since the critters are so creepy, they don’t even warrant having a face, but close enough that I jumped up, threw my gardening tools to the ground and abandoned the flower bulbs all over the back yard. The deer in the neighborhood must have thought they’d been hit by a truck and gone to heaven when they came upon that feast.
My second (and final) attempt at gardening came the following summer, when I decided I would outsmart the creatures that lurk below the ground, and planted a container garden full of salad greens. No need to dig in the dirt, just fill a lovely pot full of store-bought soil, add a few seeds and viola! Fresh salad! Things started off well enough. Before too long, little sprouts of varied greens started poking out. I watered daily and congratulated myself on creating life. Dramatic I know, but this was a big deal to me!
Then, like pack of foxes showing up your (oh-so-hipster) backyard chicken coop, the slugs arrived. I was incredulous! I mean, how do they slither their way up the sides of a huge ceramic pot? Vile, disgusting things. That was that….from that point on all of my gardening has consisted of whatever herbs I can grow on my windowsill.
It looks like my alpaca farm fantasy is probably a non-starter.
…and thank goodness for local farmers! After my (brief but traumatizing) stint at attempting to grow my own food, I have come to appreciate them as much as I do musicians, artists and servers at Hooters for having musical talent, artistic vision, or the chutzpah to serve really bad food clad in smaller clothing than the average 3-year-old wears on any given day.
All this to say, here is a simple, delicious and healthy way to use a plethora of summer vegetables that you’ll find in your backyard, local farmers market or CSA. There’s a lot of room for improvisation too. Not a fan of miso? Whip up your favorite vinaigrette or just toss everything with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. You’ll be able to use whatever vegetables you have on-hand, so no need to go out and get specific produce to accommodate the recipe. I did blanch the vegetables for this recipe since many of them are more palatable to most people if they are cooked. You can certainly chose the raw route and it would be equally delicious. Get creative and use this recipe more as a guideline for creating your spin on a chopped salad. I would love to hear your salad inspiration, so please share it!
Oh, and if you have any tips on gardening….no need to share those. That ship has sailed for me….
Summer Chopped Vegetable Salad With Miso Vinaigrette
servings: 6 side dishes or 4 main course | time: about 20 minutes
For the miso vinaigrette:
1 TBSP mild white miso paste (gluten free if necessary)
2 TBSP. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
4 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. tamari
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 tsp. honey
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. white pepper
For the chopped salad:
2 small zucchini, cubed into 1/2″ pieces
2 small summer squash, cubed into 1/2″ pieces
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 cup fresh snow peas, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 cups fresh green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
6 large radishes, chopped
1 TBSP. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Make the miso vinaigrette:
1. Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside while you make the salad
Make the salad:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil
2. Fill a large bowl with water and ice and place near the stove to allow for quick transfer of the blanched vegetables
3. Place the zucchini, summer squash and green beans to the boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, cook vegetables for 4 minutes
4. Using a basket strainer or large slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the boiling water and place them in the iced water
5. Drain the blanched vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Add the remaining vegetables and the miso vinaigrette and toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds before serving