This is optimistically named because though all these vegetables have been planted in my garden it assumes they are growing and ready to eat – neither of which is entirely true. Slugs are the real evil at the moment and they seem to be fat as butter as they chomp their way through endless lettuce leaves, but victory is in sight and after a few tense weeks I think the vegetables will conquer and win. That said thanks to the rain, wind and overall chill about this summer the garden is about a month behind. So much as I would love to be reaping the rewards of my hard work that was planted earlier in the spring, I will have to just wait another month! Cheating is now the only option and Hungerford Farmers Market my saviour. Operating on the fourth sunday of every month it is a small but charming collection of local producers, vegetables and salads being the highlight for me, especially with the abundance of stunning seasonal produce now available. I came back laden with fresh peas, broad beans, radishes, tomatoes, beetroot and asparagus. With virtually nothing else in our fridge this array of color, flavour and crunch formed the foundation for a virtuous, pretty and healthy end of weekend salad.
Building the salad…… I started with some radishes, swiftly followed by freshly podded peas, a few heritage tomatoes for color and diversity, a small bunch of quickly char-grilled asparagus, a handful of just cooked naughty new potatoes (again still broad bean size), some double podded broad beans, a few slug resistant salad leaves, about 3 balsamic roasted beetroot, a good handful of mint leaves and lashings of Parmesan dressing.
Without getting all romantic – it sang of warmer climes, Italy, France, summer holidays and sea air, but in essence everything came from an English garden (not all mine – but give me a month!) It was shockingly pretty with clashing colors (tomatoes, beetroot, radishes), crazily crunchy with the peas and radishes, at the same time buttery with those fabulous new potatoes and double podded broad beans. The choice of Parmesan dressing came in a flash of inspiration while admiring the lingering, evening sun over the ‘Long Acre’ – how could I unite all of these flavours, tastes and textures together – so I mutilated a ‘Caesar Salad Dressing’ – ditched the garlic and egg and added in natural yogurt. Verdict – pretty revolutionary but it worked.
Garden Produce Salad
Excuse the measuring system but on this occasion scales seemed rather unnecessary!
2x handfuls of freshly podded peas
2x handfuls of double podded broad beans
1 large handful of the tiniest new potatoes you can find
1 handful of radishes cut in quarters
1 small bunch of asparagus – ideally chargrilled or lightly steamed
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
1 large handful of mixed tomatoes
4 beetroot – cut into quarters and roasted in the oven with a splash of olive oil and balsamic
1 handful of fresh mint – torn up
1 quantity of Parmesan Dressing: 2 large tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 table-spoon of lemon juice, 1 table-spoon of natural yogurt, 1 salted anchovy fillet and a drop of Lea and Perrins!
To make the salad add all the ingredients into a large bowl – mix well – drizzle a little olive oil over the top with a good pinch of Maldon seat salt and grind of black pepper and serve with the Parmesan dressing along side.
To make the dressing put all the ingredients together and hand blend till you have a creamy dressing. If it is too thick add a little water, or more lemon juice.
We had this salad served as a main course with some quickly fried off salami (to keep the carnivores happy), chorizo would have worked equally well or some Parma ham crisped up in the oven. Honestly, it did not need the meat content but it kept the menfolk happy.