Tuesday, June 16, 2020

BLT Farmer's Market Salad

It's farmer's market season. What better way to celebrate summer tidings with a yummy BLT Pasta Salad that can double as a main dish or side dish?

Jill sent me the recipe for this salad after she tried it from one of her favorite cooking blogs, Carlsbad Cravings. I'm always glad to get a little inspiration for something new. I don't know whether you're like me, but I can get stuck in a recipe rut. I suppose that's especially true since all our meals for nearly 3 months were straight from my home kitchen.

Even better? It was perfect timing to take advantage of the fresh vegetables that are beginning to ripen in Randy's garden. If you're like me and gardening isn't your thing, a farmer's market or the grocery store produce section will provide the seasonal summer flavor for your dinner table.

The recipe makes a lot, so I kept all the components separate. That way, I could use just enough romaine, Parmesan and bacon, and there were no soggy leftovers. Then I mixed it up fresh for the next meal.

Since our most abundant garden crop thus far is summer squash, I diced up some raw squash to include with the other veggies. Diced cucumbers and other fresh veggies found at the farmer's market would provide color and variety, too. And that dressing is good on anything.

Since it's not a meal without meat around here, I served seasoned and grilled chicken and steak along with the salad. If you're planning a 4th of July BBQ or a family potluck, you can feed a lot of people with the original recipe - with or without the meat - making it all at once.

Some of this may end up in to-go containers for harvest meals this week - something cool and refreshing on hot, windy Kansas summer days. (Randy tried a couple of test samples of wheat yesterday afternoon, but ours was too wet. He'll try again today. With a few others in their combine cabs, the peer pressure is mounting!)

My favorite flour brand - Hudson Cream Flour - posted this meme yesterday morning on their Facebook page. It made me laugh! This flour is produced in our county at Stafford County Flour Mills:
From Hudson Cream Flour's Facebook page - Stafford County Flour Mills
Whether it's part of your harvest meal line-up or just finds a spot on your dining room table, give it a try and let me know what you think!
BLT Farmer's Market Salad
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings blog
12 oz. farfalle pasta or medium shells
1/2 lb. asparagus, tough ends removed then cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 cups roughly chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup freshly-grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
8 oz. thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
Recipe of Lemon Chive Dressing

Lemon Chive Dressing
2/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. freshly-grated lemon zest (approximately 1 lemon)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. EACH sugar, dried oregano, dried parsley, pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (or 1 tbsp. dried - You can also use the tops of green onion)

Dressing: Whisk together all ingredients for dressing. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Pasta Salad: Cook pasta in salted water just short of al dente. Add asparagus to pot and cook with pasta for 1 additional minute. Drain the pasta and asparagus. Rinse with cold water, then toss with a drizzle of oil oil to keep pasta from sticking.

To serve immediately: Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl. Once pasta has cooled, add dressing and toss until evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

To serve later: Add pasta, asparagus, peas, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing once the pasta has cooled. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Prepare the lettuce, bacon and Parmesan and refrigerate separately. 

When ready to serve, add the lettuce, bacon and Parmesan and the remaining dressing and toss until evenly combined. Taste and add a splash more lemon if desired and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Since I was just feeding the two of us, I kept ingredients separate. Then, as I wanted to make the salad, I combined enough lettuce, pasta/vegetable mixture, dressing, Parmesan and bacon to serve for just one meal. That way, I could have fresh salad every time! 
  • I had green summer squash from the garden, so I diced up some raw squash and added it to the veggies. You could also add cucumbers and other in-season vegetables as they are available in your garden or from the farmer's market.  
  • Add grilled chicken or grilled steak to make it a full meal.