Salads

Summer’s almost over. I know, I know. Where are the fanfares to send the kids back to school? All joking aside though, what I’ll miss the most from the hottest season of the year are the salads. Some may say BBQ, which is cool and all, but for me, a fresh salad with assorted ingredients makes my summer. I’m going to give you a few quick tips about salad preparation for Freedom Friday, and I hope your next experience with the delectable greenery is a delicious one!

Our feta, onions, cucumber salad, Apr. 2013.

Our feta, onions, cucumber salad, Apr. 2013.

Living in one of the most agriculturally diverse provinces in Canada, Ontario, our backyard has gone through various transformations throughout the years. When I say our backyard, I mean Casa Flacco’s backyard, as in, behind-our-house backyard. This year, we have made the most ambitious attempt at farming yet. In past years, we’ve had a small strip of land by the side of a fence dedicated to vegetables and salads. This year we’ve increased the size of the original and added two more sections, each section separated by green space.

I don’t know what it is with our backyard. Somehow, whatever we plant turns into these gianormous jungles we attempt to tame but bless us with a bounty of crops we never had intentions of growing.

At the beginning of the season, my wife asks, “What do you think we should grow this year?”

I typically answer, while flipping the channels, “I don’t know. Tomatoes would be good. Cucumbers. Salads. We have to have salads. Definitely have to have salads.”

That’s how it starts. Next thing you know, near the middle of the season, our salads look like leaves from the Cretaceous Period. Our tomatoes look like pumpkins that need trucks to transport. And our zucchinis like, well, I’m not sure. Take a look at the photo.

Zucchini plant in our garden, Aug. 2009.

Zucchini plant in our garden, Aug. 2009.

Zucchini from our garden, Aug. 2009.

Zucchini from our garden, Aug. 2009.

Tomato from our garden, Sep. 2008.

Tomato from our garden, Sep. 2008.

Seriously, sometimes I feel as if our yard has radioactive soil. If you ever hear reports of a man climbing buildings in Toronto and spinning webs, you’ll know what happened to me. Anyway, talk about getting caught up in the moment, let’s get back to the point of this post—salads.

We grow radicchio and the regular garden-variety salad. The radicchio is my favorite because it’s easy to prepare and mouth-watering on its own.

Here’s what we do:

  • Cut the leaves from the garden, plopping them in a pot or bowl, dirt, grime, slugs and all—yes, slugs
  • Take it into the house, wash the leaves thoroughly, getting rid of the slugs—you didn’t think we’d eat those things, did you?
  • Add some olive oil and salt
  • Munchtime!

Radicchio is a naturally bitter salad. The salt accentuates the flavor along with the olive oil. Fresh from the garden is something special to savor in the summer. Can’t be beat.

Now, as for the long-leaf salad, which is oh, so sweet and crunchy to the taste buds, the washing prep is pretty much the same as the radicchio. So, I’ll just give you the recipe we have year-round.

Ingredients:

  • A generous amount of crumpled feta cheese
  • Half a sweet white onion chopped
  • 1 peeled and sliced cucumber
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions:

  • Make sure you wash and dry the leaves properly. Invest in a good salad strainer; it makes life so much easier. Besides, leaves will not come out all soggy. You want them to crunch.
  • Add in your ingredients except the feta and olive oil.
  • Before serving, add your olive oil, toss the salad, then add your feta on top otherwise the feta becomes mushy and disappears in the salad as a nice white coat over the leaves.

And there you have it. Casa Flacco’s two salad recipes I’m sure you’ll enjoy trying before the summer’s over.

Buon appetito!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have any salad recipes you’d like sharing? How about ingredients? What do you like putting in your salads?

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20 Comments

  1. I love salads too. Wow, that’s some cuke! 😉

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    I’m glad I’m not the only person who rates salads about BBQ for summer treats. 😉

    Reply
  2. I know, oddly enough, that Toronto is supposed to have some of the best soil in the province. Which is sad, considering everyone wants to build condos over it. Looks good though! That could feed you for the winter!

    Reply
  3. I agree – it is Wallace and Grommet! Are those CLAY??? Must try your salad – it sounds yummy. We are feta junkies. I will miss my barbie and homemade antipasto with tandori chicken once fall sets in hard. Oh well…

    Reply
  4. Basharr

     /  August 23, 2013

    Yes! Salads as well as Salsa. We grew pear tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Patio Tomatoes, Better Boy Hybrids, Jalapenos, Sweet peppers, eggplants, Bell peppers, Cilantro, oregano, black seed lettuce and romaine lettuce plus a few other things like a dwarf lemon and grapes our first year and we got two bunches of about 30 grapes each. We grew cabbage but it did not become a head, our cucumbers started well and then dried as it was so hot. I still have an active garden many tomatoes still growing peppers too plus what is summer without Sun tea made with home grown lemon balm, mint and spearmint. Herbs we grew chive, basil, oregano and we tried leeks. I must say I bought a bunch oh leeks and they are a lot of work…Have not tried one yet. Now that was all my in the ground garden. In plastic tubs we grew Potatoes, Red Onions, White Onions, Carrots, Radishes

    I love growing a garden we will have raspberries and blackberries this was their first year and we have blueberry plants but we had a cold spell after a fake summer start and all but two blossoms fell off. so we had two blueberries…lol Not bad considering we are are in the sierras of north eastern Ca.

    Reply
  5. All I have is basil. But it is gigantic just like your veggies. In fact, it’s starting to look like a small tree!

    Reply
  6. mskayporter

     /  August 23, 2013

    I’m so jealous! I have had a rough time trying to get my garden to grow here in Texas. Hopefully, next year I will have better luck.

    Reply
  7. That zucchini is huge! At the tip end of winter and going into spring I’m so excited to be making some salads!

    Reply
  8. Beauty of the bounty.

    Reply
  9. I love salads – and growing them, too. I just toss whatever is in the fridge into the salad, but alas I’ve been a very bad salad eater and grower this year. Your recipe looks delicious, though!

    Reply
  10. My lord those are giant veggies! Are you a Wallace & Gromit fan? Your veggies look like the veggies from the were-rabbit movie.

    Reply
    • Jess, I haven’t seen the Were-Rabbit. ACK! I know, I need to get out more. I wonder how large my tomatoes will get this year is all that’s on my mind. They’re looking massive already!

      Reply
  11. Mouthwatering!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  12. Serenity

     /  August 23, 2013

    My mom gave us a zucchini this year from her garden as big as the one you had. It was huge. So far I have made double chocolate chip muffins from up. I will fry the rest of it up this weekend before it goes bad.

    Reply
  13. I hope your next experience with the delectable greenery is a delicious one! This sentence makes me happy. That is all. Have a great weekend!

    Reply
  14. theyoungerj

     /  August 23, 2013

    in this climate and if left on the vine, those zukes can really take off. A common thing people I know do is prepare stuffed squash, putting everything from sausage to cheese to anything else you can imagine and baking it. My zucchini and cucumber plants got squash worms this year and are basically dead at this point. i did get good production for a month plus though so I feel that’s solid. Great pictures!

    Reply
    • That exactly what we did in 2009. We left them and honestly, we had to give most of the crop away because we didn’t know what to do with them. The crop was huge beyond words!

      Reply
  15. Those are huge. Must be something in the soil or water. One thing I’ll miss about the salads of summer are the inclusion of fresh berries. The quality of strawberries always goes downfall later in the year.

    Reply
    • This is so true! My family went strawberry picking a few weeks back and from all the wonderful bushes harvested, my wife made jam. It’s to die-for. I only wish we could grow strawberries in our backyard.

      Reply
  16. Catherine Johnson

     /  August 23, 2013

    We got some free tomato and cucumber plants and after my parents left for England I managed to kill them 😦 We’ve grown enormous veggies before. The rocket was gross and I love rocket. The broccoli was covered in flies or something. I buy from the store now. Someone brought a delicious asian salad around the other day. I’m going to get the recipe off Pinterest and try it soon. Enjoy your veggies!

    Reply

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