The warmer it gets outside, the less I feel like turning the oven on, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. Big, diverse spring and summer salads are in order, naturally— and why wouldn’t they be, when my yard, CSA box, and produce section of the Co-op is filled with local, nutritious greens?
Most days, a green salad is the main course of my evening meal. My favorite base green at the moment is chopped bok choy—I really dig the texture differences of the densely nutritious green with the crunchy white stems—which hold a lot of water, making it that much more refreshing. Of course, any mix of salad green can be the base—any variety of lettuce, spinach, arugula, cabbage—to name a few. Next I find any veggies in my fridge and chop, slice, or shred them. From there, I scout for anything else that adds interest and variety: mushrooms, cashews, almonds, seeds, sprouts, dried cranberries, and/or chopped herbs—chives, basil, etc. Finally, something to tie this all together—the salad sauce. My go-to salad sauce at the moment is equal parts Fire Cider and Driftless Organics sunflower oil whisked together in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Pour this over your salad and dig in! Driftless Organics sunflower oil is of course “The Olive Oil of Wisconsin”—certified organic and cold-pressed, it can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. But what’s this Fire Cider stuff, you ask?
For those who are unfamiliar, Fire Cider is a vinegar-based traditional medicinal preparation used for a wide range of discomforts and ailments. It also makes a terrific drink mixer! Both Willy East and West have recently added Fire Cider (concocted by Shire City Herbals out of Pittsfield, MA) to our Health and Wellness shelves. Fire Cider has been touted for generations to boost the immune system, aid digestion, relieve sinus congestion, and increase circulation. But to those sensitive to spice: be wary! This is potent stuff; made from onion, ginger, horseradish, garlic, habanero pepper, lemon, and orange. Though they have always used organic produce, they just recently became certified organic.
For a considerably less bite-y—but no less flavorful—salad dressing, I also maintain a stock of any of the three varieties of pesto vinaigrettes from Renaissance Farm—lemon basil, cilantro, and sweet basil. These creamy (vegan) dressings meld together a salad wonderfully with a bouquet of herbs.
Whatever you choose to dress up your summer salads, enjoy them in good health!