Salads spice up summer

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I don’t know about you, but is there anything better than strolling the Downtown Paris Farmers Market on a Saturday morning?

This time of year those of us who don’t have a garden find our way downtown to look for what we crave — heirloom and homegrown tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, greens and cabbage. We’re almost in a dead run to get home to slice one of the juicy tomatoes — not the tasteless ones you find at the supermarket — slather mayonnaise on two pieces of bread with the tomatoes — and then stand over the kitchen sink to enjoy a bite of heaven.

Buying from your local farmer allows you to support local agriculture. This means the food you are eating comes from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world. You are eating food in your environment, where it has perfectly-created nutrients for your specific climate and region. 

By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh and ripe. This is a great way to increase your overall health. Supermarkets offer too much variety, and the food is picked before it has ripened, decreasing the vitality. 

Food from your local farmers market is generally safer. Remember the recent outbreaks of E. coli? These things happen mostly in large industrial settings, where businessmen work to mass produce food, preserve it and bag it in mass amounts.

Summer salads made with fresh local ingredients are something we can all appreciate. Let’s face it — there’s nothing like something grown locally by our friends and neighbors. It makes the salad, the mess of green beans with bacon and onion or the cucumbers and onions in vinegar and sugar taste that much better.

Every one needs a recipe box full of no-fail summer salad recipes. Invest in the box to ensure that you’ll never be without a quick and refreshing recipe for a family-favorite salad. 

Sometimes you just can’t get behind the grill. Sometimes you just need a great salad. I’m with you.

These summer salads are best served outside, on a picnic table, on a gingham tablecloth, where a pitcher of lemonade is starting to sweat. Because it’s summer. Make the most of the season’s greatest hits with these salads. I haven’t forgotten the sweet corn from friends like Wayne and Nancy Marrs as well as fresh eggs from L & A Family Farms and Phil Wright’s hearty bread that makes any salad complete.

The salad recipes I’m sharing with you this week are easy to prepare 

 with fresh flavors and crisp textures that you can whip up in a flash. 

Make sure you add “salad night” to this week’s meal plan, because no matter what you bring home from the farmers market, a salad will be your new favorite. 

Fill your bowl with leafy greens and then cover them with a blanket of seasonal veggies, a hard-boiled egg, some crumbled bacon and cheese and an herb-filled white wine vinaigrette.

I’m a firm believer that fresh herbs make even the most basic salad stand out. Instead of mixing them in with the greens, whisk a few spoonfuls of herbs into classic white wine vinaigrette for a bright and fragrant twist. It’s a big reward for not a lot of work, and — best of all — any type of herb you have handy will make a delicious addition to the dressing. 

Be sure to make the dressing before assembling the salad because the more time the ingredients have to meld together, the more flavor they’ll bring to dinner.

If you’re not sure which salad to try, may I recommend my favorite — farmers market salad. Nearly everything in the recipe — except maybe the avocado — may be purchased Saturday morning on the square in Paris. I’m not a fan of blue cheese, so I substitute a hearty cheddar. Consider this recipe a template to use as ingredients change as the seasons change.  For instance, a good tart apple is great in the fall.

For some reason, this recipe always reminds me of the late Mary Ann Tucker who would share the produce from the Horace garden for those of us at the Paris Beacon-News. 

This is a recipe similar to one she shared with me all those many years ago.