I have fond memories of making Farmers Market Salads with my dad when I was in grade school. Growing up in St. Louis, we had access to an amazing farmers market in Soulard, its origins stemming back to 1779. THAT’S HISTORY.
On rare occasion – as we did not live particularly close to the market – my father would announce that he was going to the market. I would almost always jump at the opportunity. I loved the sights and smells of the market; watching the mix of hurried clientage and buyers trying to barter for bargains; and loitering around the bunny cages. (I didn’t know at the time that the bunnies were being sold for meat!)
My father would invite me to help him pick out loose items like carrots and potatoes, but left some choices like tomato picking to his discerning touch and eye. I was a distractible child, so I have no doubt that he had to keep a sharp eye on me, too!
Upon our return home, he would busy himself in the kitchen, preparing mounds of vegetables (red leaf lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, red potatoes, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli florets, cauliflower, sweet corn, etc.) obviously enjoying every minute of the work. (I can relate!)
He would ask me to help with some duties like peeling and shucking. Our kitchen door wide open, the smells of St. Louis-style BBQ ribs or a steak wafting through our screen door from the porch.
These are favorite memories of mine.
Today I live in Los Angeles, near Larchmont, and whenever I can I visit its market to purchase the vegetables needed to make a Farmers Market Salad for myself and my fiancée. The ingredients have changed a little, (more mushrooms and sprouted nuts…and homemade vinaigrettes instead of Hidden Valley ranch or honey Dijon dressing) but the ritual is the same. So much care and attention is paid to picking the right vegetables. When I get home, I wash everything – admittedly smiling when something is covered in dirt. I inspect heirloom vegetables with wonder and snack on sunflower sprouts.
I usually do all of this alone, kitchen window wide open.
Yesterday, I made a salad I was particularly fond of…and so I would love to share the recipe with you!
Sweet August Farmers Market Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds:
- Four handfuls of herb lettuce mix (includes dill, cilantro, baby red and green lettuce, baby arugula, red cabbage)
- 1 small heirloom tomato, thinly sliced (I used an Amana Orange Heirloom Tomato)
- 1/2 watermelon radish, sliced thin using a mandoline set at 1/8″ (or 1/16″ if you want a super=thin slice…this vegetable is sturdy enough for that!)
- 1 handful of sunflower sprouts, chopped into quarters (so you don’t have sprouts hanging out of your mouth at every bite)
- Maitake Mushroom (aka “Hen of the Woods”) – however much you are comfortable with. This is a cancer-fighting mushroom!
- 1 handful of raw sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp sage, minced
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 1 Tbsp raw coconut oil
- 1/2 Tbsp basil-infused olive oil – I use Gourmet Blends, but there are more cost-friendly bottles out there! You can also easily make your own.
- 1/2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar – I use Gourmet Blends, but there are more cost-friendly bottles out there!
- Your favorite salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Pull out two small plates (not large, dinner-sized plates). Put two handfuls of the herb lettuce mix on each plate in a thin layer.
Put sliced tomato, watermelon radish and sunflower sprouts in a mixing bowl. Add olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss.
Add coconut oil to your pan on medium heat. Add sunflower seeds, sage, chili powder, sea salt and nutmeg and toast for about 2 minutes, or when seeds are slightly browned. I like to spoon out a seed every minute or so to taste and stop toasting when I’m satisfied with the flavor/crunch. 🙂 Turn off heat and set aside.
On prepared plates, put half of the tomato/radish mixture on top of each bed of lettuce. Sprinkle half of the sunflower seeds on top of each salad. Add pieces of Maitake Mushroom.
Eat DELICIOUS salad. 🙂
And per tradition…always always finish off your Farmers Market Salad with an in-season fruit.
Cantaloupe (some melons)