Two Salads and Garden Pics

mesclun
out of the garden ~ fresh mesclun

Happily, summer is finally here and the garden is growing like crazy!

First harvest was mesclun — how I love those slightly bitter baby greens!
They cry out for a piquant dressing that can stand up to their bite.

I have been experimenting, trying to make a reasonably healthy and most importantly *tasty* version of creamy roquefort dressing. After a few failed attempts, I think I finally hit upon something worth making. Roquefort can be very salty, so be sure to taste before adding additional salt. Also, if you don’t have thick homemade yogurt, use creamy dreamy Fage (say ”fah-yeh”) — it’s amazingly delicious!

This dressing tastes best made ahead. Tuck it into the fridge and give it a few hours for the flavors to develop.

Roquefort Dressing
makes about 6-8 TB

1 tsp good-quality olive oil
1 Tb white or cider vinegar
1 oz roquefort or other strong bleu cheese, crumbled
1-2 Tb onion, grated
2-3 TB thick yogurt (I used 2% Fage)

fresh cracked black pepper to taste
pinch of salt if necessary

~~~~~

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar until well blended. Add the crumbled cheese and grated onion and mix well. You can mash the cheese or leave it in little crumbles depending on your taste. Finally, mix in the yogurt. Add fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt if necessary.

Variation: Add one small clove of grated garlic and use lemon juice in place of the vinegar.

mesclun salad
homegrown mesclun with creamy roquefort dressing

spinach
spinach in a pot

I have a weakness for cheese. Fresh spinach is a perfect vehicle for one of my favorites — tangy feta. While I could eat those two alone and have a happy lunch any day, tossing the barely-cooked spinach with salmon, a little pasta and alot more veggies meant a complete meal and less guilt for me πŸ˜‰

Warm Spinach Salad with Salmon, Orzo and Feta

4 oz fresh salmon fillet
1 oz dry orzo or other small pasta
1-2 c fresh spinach leaves
1 oz feta cheese
1/4 c red onion, sliced thin
1/2 c cucumber, diced

fresh cracked black pepper to taste
pinch of salt if necessary

~~~~~

1. Cook the pasta:

Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with hot water and drain well. Keep aside.

While the pasta is cooking,

2. Poach the salmon:

Fill a small shallow pan with just enough water to cover the salmon fillet. Bring to a boil, slip in the salmon and immediately reduce heat to med-low. Fish should be cooked 10 minutes per inch of thickness, but I prefer mine underdone, so I poach it for about 6-7 minutes for a thick, center cut fillet. When the fish is cooked to your liking, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate. Remove the skin if necessary, and cool to room temperature.

3. Prep the veggies:

Wash the spinach well. If the leaves are large, cut them roughly. If small, leave whole. Microwave, with just the water clinging from washing, for 60-90 seconds, or until wilted. When cool enough to handle, squeeze if necessary to remove water.

Slice the red onion to thin rounds and cut rounds into quarters. Wash, peel, and remove seeds from cucumber. Cut into medium dice.

4. Assemble:

Toss the spinach with the pasta and raw veggies. Add the salmon, using a fork to break it into chunks. Crumble the feta over all, toss, and add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Feta can be salty too, so taste before adding additional salt.

5. Serve and enjoy!

warm salmon and spinach salad
warm spinach and feta salad with salmon and orzo ~ a healthy, indulgent meal!

~~~~~

I planted a lot of things in containers this year, and they live on the deck. They are growing like mad and ahead of schedule, while the tomatoes and sole eggplant in the garden proper are just starting to come along. The upside of the container garden is that the deck gets more sun — by two hours or so, and the containers hold heat well. The downside is that they need moving daily — into the sun in the morning and back as the day wears on. They also need careful monitoring for water. The plants in the ground can go a few days without water in a pinch — those in containers dry out more easily and must be watered daily, unless it rains.

Golden Jubilee and Celebrity tomatoes, as well as Icihban eggplant are already blossoming on the deck, so time will tell. Their twins down in the garden are on, or even ahead of schedule compared to last year, but the difference between garden and deck plants is incredible. I hope these things produce as much fruit as they do foliage!

tomato eggplant on deck
golden jubilee tomato and ichiban eggplant, luxuriating in the extra sun on the deck

golden jubilee ichiban
same varieties in the garden proper ~ noticable difference!

celebrity mr stripey
container tomatoes on the deck ~ celebrity in front, mr. stripey in back

more tomatoes
same tomatoes in the garden ~ left to right mr. stripey, big beef, and celebrity

It’s not all about tomatoes however — I have two varieties of green beans, a long green ‘louisiana eggplant’, chard, various peppers, lemon cucumbers, and some mystery gourds and eggplant growing on the deck as well.

peppers etc
yellow bell, poblano, and hot peppers, with green eggplant and thai basil etc…

beans chard cukes
blue lake bush beans, chard and lemon cukes

gourd seedlings
gourd seedlings ~ courtesy the fairy gourdmother πŸ™‚

seedling
fairy gourdmother strikes again ~ eggplant from seed, awaiting the move to a larger home

Well, enough of my garden. What’s growing in yours? πŸ™‚

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21 Comments »

  1. Nupur said

    Wow, Linda! Your garden looks vibrant and beautiful. You making the making of some delicious meals right here.
    Mine consists of a handful of pots on the windowsill πŸ˜€ a curry leaf plant (the preciousssss!!!), cilantro in two pots, basil and mint in a couple others. I planted a couple of hyacinth beans and a beanstalk is rapidly growing but I am not holding my breath for home-grown beans.

  2. arundati said

    wow!! some lovely kitchen container garden there!! i have the beginnings of a not so ambitious one….some chillies, a kind of green leafy vine and some mint and basil….the rest is all “difficult to kill” foliage!! good luck!!

  3. Asha said

    Very very nice Linda! Love the garden. I have 3 Ichibans, one is already gave me 2 eggplants, other plant with green eggplant is flowering too. I have Pear, Plum, grape, celebrity Tomatoes, got some grape tomatoes, plum is almost ready. Gourds are growing like crazy, takes time. Red chard, eating it loads already.Okras are up, herb galore on the deck!:D
    Amaranth is growing poorly for some reason, must be too much heat, hasn’t rained in weeks, lawn is yellow ad brittle! Green Beans,Thai and cayenne Chillies, Cucumber and Zucchini are coming up too. Phew! I didn’t realize I have so many!! Why oh why, did you ask? ;D
    Got a cute cup and saucer pot y’day, looking for a new herb today at Lowe’s, curry leaves plant went on the deck, growing but VERY slowly!
    Palak looks gorgeous there, didn’t plant that. My Methi burnt down in the heat! Yummy salad Linda, enjoy!:))

  4. Srivalli said

    Linda..those are some plants you have there…all of them look so green and good!…

  5. Daniel said

    Doesn’t that salad look yummy! Hungry now. I’m thinking of starting a garden at my place in Aruba, but I travel quite a bit and would need someone to tend to it. The sun is very STRONG. Anyway, thanks for the recipe. http://www.bentpage.wordpress.com.

  6. indosungod said

    Aren’t the fresh greens from the garden the best. Swiss Chard and few other greens feeds us every week. The spinach with the feta and salmon mighty tasty too.

    I had some coriander seeds with bugs, threw them in the garden patch and now I have fresh coriander leaves. Eggplants, ridge gourds and bitter gourds, but the one I am having my fingers crossed are for the hyacinth beans. Last few seasons it grew and grew but no fruit 😦

  7. revathi said

    Wow that is some gardening !!! Looks gorgeous and the container plants are looking so healthy and thriving. Good for you.

    This year Nil in my patio. Hopefully i will catch up next year !

  8. Vani said

    Your garden is lovely! You have a green thumb for sure! Look at all the lovely plants all looking healthy & beautiful! Loved the expression on Mr. Pink’s face in one of the photographs, where he’s disinterestedly looking at the yarn. So cute! πŸ™‚

  9. Miri said

    I love feta cheese too , thats a lovely combination, pasta, spinach and feta cheese and I think I will be trying it soon!

    Your garden is lovely – so nice to have an actually productive garden instead of just ornamental and flowering plants – I dont have either so can’t actually qualify to comment!

  10. richa said

    hi Linda, how hv u been? ur garden looks very good, very healthy. will put up my garden pics soon πŸ™‚

  11. Jyothsna said

    Lovely plants there Linda. Isn’t it a beauty to see them grow well!

  12. sia said

    its pure delight to see ur garden pics linda… very refreshing cool greens for my eyes πŸ™‚

  13. Cynthia said

    I am swooning here at the thought of the roquefort dressing. Big time yummy.

    I received that package safely. Thank you!

    Big hugs.

  14. Cynthia said

    I forgot to mention how jealous I am of your garden.

  15. mallugirl said

    no garden for me this year.tomatoes need lots of sunlight don’t they? i learnt that the hard way after they languished in the garden. ur veggies look gooood..and the creamy dressing is a must try.

  16. Shyam said

    Heehee… “fairy gourdmother”! πŸ˜€ Good one, Linda πŸ˜€ I’ve got 3 tomato plants growing, lots of herbs, and about a dozen differebt chilli seedlings grown from seed… NOTHING grows slower than chillies, believe me. It’s an exercise in patience. Not to mention hope! πŸ™‚

  17. Shyam said

    Oh, and sorrel too.

  18. mandira said

    linda, wow that looks great. I had just two herb plants in the apartment, but just moved to a apartment in house where I have a backyard… going plant and seed shopping today… even if I am starting late in the season, I’m excited!

  19. Vani said

    Hey, long time no read, Linda! Hope that means you are having a fabulous summer which leaves you no time to blog about it! πŸ™‚
    All’s well here. Little M will be turning 2 next week and am busy with planning a party for her. Hugs to you!

  20. Padma said

    Your garden looks lovely and adorable… pls. drop by my blog and pick up your award. πŸ™‚

  21. richa said

    hey Linda, enjoying a break r u? long time no post, not that i’m posting everyday…lol!

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