Eating from the garden is one of the great pleasures of summer, but there's an element of challenge to it too. My very first garden consisted of several pots of cherry tomatoes and an ambitious zucchini plant. The tomatoes were no trouble -- they're small and can be savored straight off the vine -- but the zucchini overwhelmed my slight repertoire of recipes. In desperation, I resorted to stuffing my purse with the surplus when I went out so that I could force zucchini on all my friends. I was the eccentric zucchini lady. I've since learned the art of tucking whatever's growing into everything I cook -- an infinitely better solution. This year, the strawberry patch began to produce in earnest. These are two of my favorite strawberry creations.
Citrus-Cilantro Dressing for Fruit Salad
(Southern Living, July 2000)
1/4 cup orange juice
11/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
11/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro (or more)
11/2 tsp mined fresh mint (or more)
Stir everything together in a bowl and toss with about 3 cups worth of fresh summer fruit.
Strawberry and Garden Greens Salad
(my own invention)
lettuce from the garden -- I like a good mix of butter crunch, romain, oak leaf and arugula
herbs from the garden -- chives, oregano, mint
Arrange the lettuce on a wide serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil, then with balsamic vinegar. Scatter lots of herbs over the lettuce, then layer on the strawberries and drizzle a little more oil and vinegar. Fresh pepper and you're done.
I usually do these kinds of salads on a wide, shallow platter so the layers stay thin and no tossing is required. Accompanied by grilled chicken breasts, this is supper. My husband and I don't even use plates; I throw a couple of forks on the platter and we sit across from each other and eat until we meet in the middle and fight over the last strawberry.