The only green left in the refrigerator last night was some baby arugula; not unlucky for me since it’s one of my absolute favs. Not so good for Tony, a bit too strong for him. I convinced him that I could tame the flavor of the arugula with something sweet (fresh corn and fennel) and some fat (olive oil and avocado).
While Tony was heating up the grill for a pizza experiment, I sliced the veggies and pulled the salad together. I pulled the first fennel bulb from my garden. It was still relatively small compared to those found in the grocery stores, but just the right size for feeding salad to four. Earlier this spring, I found a pot of Florence Fennel at a garden center grown for the herb garden. There must have been 50 baby plants in that one pot! I took the pot home, separated the plants and filled two 4 ft. beds with fennel plants. After cutting the stems and fronds away from the bulb, I plunked them into a flower arrangement with purple stock. Don’t you love it when all the parts of something grown in your own backyard get to be used?
This time of year, salads can take on a much different look and taste than those of early spring. I’ve often thought how unfair it was to have tomatoes and lettuces ripen at such different times of year. I’m still pulling some arugula out of my garden, and dreaming of August 15th to be able to plant lettuces again.
Great tomatoes are just around the corner, but probably not from my back yard. The squirrels and chipmunks seem to take a bite out of each ‘almost ready’ tomato we have. I am ever optimistic though and continue to plant them each year. So, I’ll continue to frequent the farmers’ markets for the perfect tomato.
Summer Fresh Salad
- 4 cups fresh baby arugula
- 1/2 cup or more very thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1 small fennel bulb (about 2″ wide) very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup or less thinly sliced red onion
- kernels removed from 1 ear of fresh, raw corn
- 1 avocado, cubed
- toasted walnuts or pine nuts
- 3 Tbls olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
Place the arugula and the remaining vegetables in a large bowl, keeping the avocado and walnuts separate for now.
In another smaller bowl, whisk the oil, mustard and honey together. Pour over the veggies and toss. Add the avocado and nuts and toss again. Serve immediately.