This evening I decided to make a gourmet Italian garden salad. Freshly harvested organic butter lettuce hearts, watermelon radishes, endive, red cabbage, carrots, red leaf lettuce, and romaine combine together for a delightfully complex taste and texture.
One benefit of living in California is that you can garden year round. We currently get some of our produce from the local organic farm. This box was a treasure trove of cool weather vegetables – the perfect combination for an amazing delicate salad. One of the in season vegetables was a watermelon radish.
What a delightful and happy vegetable. Watermelon radishes look like a watermelon when cut open. They have a mild flavor and work wonderfully in a garden salad. Sliced and quartered, it looks like you are serving up a tiny slice of watermelon right on your plate. My kids loved it! I am definitely going to order some seeds and put it on my “to grow” list.
Another ingredient I put into the Gourmet Italian Garden Salad was this endive (pictured above). It has such a fun texture to it and gives an ever so slight bitter peppery taste. While I wouldn’t really eat it plain, it was fantastic in the salad. So happy that it was in season and available to use. Again, another item I want to get seeds for and try growing in the garden! Yum!
This was another beautiful produce item we got from the organic farm. I have tried and tried to grow cabbage without success. The aphids always seem to pay a visit. That said, I know that it is possible to grow in my area because here it is! Perhaps another year:) Red cabbage adds a nice flavor but I also love the intense color that it brings to a garden salad. Lovely.
Next is the addition of a variety of organic lettuces. I especially love the butter lettuce hearts. They offer a sweetness to the salad that you just can’t get with only romaine lettuce.
Now how is this gourmet garden salad an Italian salad you may ask? Well, my kids LOVE Italian dressing. I’ve tried several kinds, and made some myself from scratch in the past. That said, right now their favorite Italian dressing comes in a mix that you add your own vinegar and olive oil to. You can use specialty olive oil imported from Italy, Kirkland brand, or a variety of different oils (like avocado oil). I also like shaking up the vinegar I use. Sometimes I’ll use white vinegar, but other times I’ll use white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. The combinations are endless. The dressing mix is the Good Seasons Zesty Italian.
Obviously we didn’t want to just eat salad for dinner. So I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store and steamed some white rice.
With a family of 8, and kids always on the go, sometimes we are in a rush to make dinner. I can’t think of a simpler dinner than getting a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken and adding some rice and a salad.
Tonight’s trip to Walmart was one to remember. It reminded me of Christmas with the Kranks, when Jamie Lee Curtis went to get a ham for her daughter, Blair. There was one ham left in the store and there was a race to see who could get there first. Hysterical! Well, there were three chickens left, and it felt like I was witnessing a similar scene. One woman was looking at the chickens wanting to buy one. I asked my daughter to go get me one, and the woman behind me put both hands on her cart and started racing for the chicken stand. She beat my daughter to it and seized her chicken. Luckily we got one before the last one was taken. So funny.
So there it is! Some fun and different ingredients to try in your garden or next gourmet salad as well as a review on my kids’ favorite Italian dressing mix. With salads, the possibilities are endless!
- 1 small head romaine lettuce
- 1 small head red leaf lettuce
- 1 small head butter lettuce heart
- ½ head endive
- 1 watermelon radish, sliced thin and quartered
- 5 baby carrots, sliced
- 1 leaf red cabbage, sliced thin
- Italian Dressing (Zesty Italian Mix, olive oil, white vinegar)
- Thoroughly wash all salad ingredients.
- Pat dry.
- Gently chop all ingredients and combine together in a salad bowl.
- Serve with Zesty Italian Dressing