Kat Barry: Varieties of lettuce make salad sensible

Published 7:58 am Friday, June 28, 2013

As I have professed, I am a big fan and avid shopper of farmers markets. I think farmers markets are an excellent way to get to know the people who grow your food, and to take full advantage of the bounty of the season.
One of my favorite things about shopping at farmers markets is getting to try different varieties of vegetables and working on devising seasonal recipes based on what’s available that week. It has helped me get creative and not stick rigidly to recipes. This time of year is great for experimenting with varieties of lettuces.
Being a salad lover, I have so much fun looking over all the beautiful greens from which to choose.
While there still might not be tons of other produce out there, lettuces are a bounty so take advantage and try something new. I thought the story of how I came up with Monday’s lunch might inspire you to get those seasonal juices flowing.
Sunday, I went to the farmers market and bought some strawberries, asparagus, kale, garlic scapes and a few salad items. There is an amazing mushroom vendor at the market I frequent so a pint of white buttons along with some gorgeous heirloom radishes served as the base for the salad I was building in my head. At the next stand, there were several varieties of locally grown organic lettuces, including arugula and frise. It was a tough call, but I went with red leaf. I also had them throw in a bunch of green onions and some fresh parsley for a couple extra bucks.
Here is the 100 percent local, organic and GMO free salad I came up with based on my findings at Sunday’s market. The result is a simple and satisfying summer salad that works great as a side at BBQs or can be tossed with nuts or beans for a nice lunch. The radishes were nice and spicy, giving the salad a little kick.

Early Summer Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 side salads

4 cups local lettuce
1½ cup white button mushrooms, sliced
1½ cup heirloom radishes, sliced
¼ cup green onion, finely sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the dressing:
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole grain prepared mustard (honey free)
About ¾ teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
About ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Tear clean lettuce leaves into 1½- to 2-inch pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and toss. In a salad shaker or Mason jar, shake together dressing ingredients until fully emulsified. Toss about half of the dressing with the salad and serve.
Option: Top salad with about 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds for an Omega 3 boost.