So a few weeks back I posted this instagram going on about how I was proud of our little garden this year. And believe me, I am proud of it. What baffles me a bit– is the idea that I thought we could fly through a bazillion heads of lettuce between the time they are fully grown and ready to eat, and the time the lettuce bolts (which always leaves me with a mental image of the lettuce physically cartoon-leaving Tom and Jerry style out of the garden).
I love a salad with lettuce from the garden, but in years past the main reason I grew any lettuce or greens at all was mostly so I could have an on-hand pluckable L to go on my BLT as summer got going (still a huge reason it was planted). This year the green thumb suddenly has worked better than it hasn’t (turns out watering works!! Tell your friends!) and I am drowning in greens. So naturally, we are on a salad kick.
Delightfully enough, this salad was kind of a pantry dive. Dare I say…a Garden DIVE! I’ve got jokes for days. I had tons of lettuce, and broccoli that was starting to flower (although full disclosure: I kinda like the bitterness the flowers give the broccoli), and some herbs. Plus some non-homegrown (YET) ingredients including carrots and grape tomatoes that needed used. The goat cheese was a vacuum packed log of fate in the back of my cheese drawer… I don’t plan on home-growing any goats anytime soon.
The chicken was added because I was starving and had one thawed in the fridge, and the dressing came out of the amazing wonderful The Forest Feast Gatherings book, which was gifted to me by a neighbor and inside holds one of the easiest, tastiest, pantry friendly salad dressings to ever hit the garden. The little chopped up herbs (you can use anything, I added thyme, basil, dill, oregano, and parsley) are like herby pop rocks popping in and changing the flavor of different bites. A regular salad party in your mouth!
I think a Garden Dive salad is something I’ll be practicing more as the temps get higher and the lettuce grows a little taller. We’ll see what this turns into as the tomatoes ripen and the carrots grow bigger and hey there’s beans in there too! Happy Diving!
Garden Dive Salad
Makes 2 large salads | Inspired by what I’ve grown; dressing from The Forest Feast Gatherings
1 large head of garden lettuce (I used green leaf, but also had red leaf and butter lettuce growing- it’s a choose your own adventure kinda thing)
1.5 C broccoli florets (I grew baby broccoli but regular ol’ florets work too, just make sure they are not huge)
1 C sugar snap peas
1/2 C variety of herbs, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded on the large side of a grater
2 C grape tomatoes, halved on the diagonal
1/2 C goat cheese (or any sort of tangy semi soft cheese would be awesome, gorgonzola or Boursin would be delightful too)
For the Dressing
3/4 C Olive Oil
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, screw on the lid and give it a shake. This makes way more than you need for two salads, but rest assured– you’ll want to put it on everything.
The key to a good salad is dry lettuce. Mark my words. Nothing worse than digging into a slippery wet bowl of lettuce. So, lets get going. Get your lettuce prepped by pulling off leaves, tearing them into bite sized pieces (I sometimes cut the lettuce but there’s something kind of calming about carefully tearing each leaf into pieces). Once you are all torn up, toss it in a colander and give it a good wash. Remain calm when little bugs run for their lives (it’s part of the whole garden thing). After your lettuce is good and washed, put it in your salad spinner and give it a few pumps until it is almost all the way dry.
Once you are done with the spinner lay out a clean kitchen towel and spread your lettuce out onto it in a nice even layer. Then, take a double layer of paper towels and press gently on the lettuce to make sure all the water is gone. Set aside.
From here it’s pretty simple– grate the carrots, add the goat cheese, broccoli, peas, and halved tomatoes. If you are adding chicken, now’s a good time to cook that up however you prefer (oven/grill/poaching). Because the dressing is so flavorful, I kept it really simple with my chicken with just classic olive oil and salt and pepper.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl in a really lovely way if you want to snap a pic. Once your ‘gram is done, I like to actually put some dressing on the salad, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and then shake it like there’s no tomorrow. Even dressing coverage in seconds! Enjoy!