The farmer’s market can be an intimidating place, especially in summer when there’s just so much to choose from. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, buy a few peaches and tomatoes and leave quickly. Other times, I just buy everything in sight, a strategy that seems wasteful at first but which almost always pays off. When I come home with armfuls of bags and mountains of vegetables, I put them immediately to use and whatever I don’t use I pickle. It’s a win-win.
The salad you see above was the result of the latter situation. On a trip to the Monday West Hollywood Farmer’s Market, I bought a big bunch of multi-colored carrots, a bag of already peeled candy-striped beets, a bunch of turnips, a bagful of yellow beans, a big cucumber and heirloom cherry tomatoes.
When it came time for dinner, I sliced the carrots into thin rings on a mandoline along with the candy-striped beets and turnips. I cut the yellow beans into small pieces, the cucumber into chunks and the cherry tomatoes in half.
Then I made a dressing using the mustard-bottle technique, shaking up the remaining mustard, Sherry vinegar, a splash of honey (for necessary sweetness), salt, pepper and olive oil. When I had a good dressing, I poured it all over the salad, tossing everything together and then topping it with Za’atar that I bought recently at Penzy’s in Seattle.
The salad was a huge hit. Everything about it felt fresh and summery but also unique and special… not a salad you could eat any day (especially in winter); and certainly not one you could make from humdrum ingredients from the refrigerated section of your grocery store. I highly recommend it.
Then, on another trip to the farmer’s market, I was more in a “grab a few peaches and a few tomatoes” kind of mood.
When I came home, I cut the heirloom tomatoes into big slices, drizzled them with good olive oil, fleur de sel and pepper. Then I cut up a peach or two and laid the peach chunks on top. I drizzled them with the same olive oil, the same fleur de sel and pepper, and then topped everything with herbs from my herb garden.
Those juicy, quirky tomatoes up against those sweet, soft peaches was really a taste of heaven. If you placed a big ball of burrata in the middle, you’d have a salad so good it might end all war. Or possibly cause a new one as people fight over the last bites.
Summer is no time to grab a box of packaged mesclun from the supermarket. This is the time to propel yourself off the couch to get to the farmer’s market so you can make salads like the ones you see above. Believe the hype: they’re sensational.