Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Spring into saladsBy JANINE GILBERTSON April 10. 2018 10:24PM
I love shopping in the produce section at the grocery store. I find the brightly colored fruits and vegetables inspiring, especially when it’s an unusual produce that I haven’t tried before.
Sometimes I buy fresh vegetables on sale, bring them home and try new ways to enjoy them in salads or side dishes. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a package of green beans for a couple of bucks. When I opened the package to cook them, I realized I had more green beans than I knew what to do with, so I got busy and put them to good use.
I decided to try them in a couple of cold salads and created one with sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, Israeli couscous, red pepper and fresh parsley and tossed it with a little truffle oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar dressing. The second salad I made had quinoa, carrot and garbanzo beans with some red onion, diced carrot and fresh parsley. The dressing was made with a little white balsamic vinegar, garlic and some olive oil; a simple concoction packed with bright, fresh flavors that paired well with the green beans.
Even though I made two good-sized salads, I still had green beans left over so I blanched them, packed them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer.
If you’re looking for something different to try in a spring salad, pansies are also an option. The flower is edible and often used in fine restaurants — most people set the bloom aside assuming it’s just for decoration.
If you have spring pansies in your garden and are willing to spare a few blossoms, you can toss them in a salad. Pansies have a mild, fresh flavor and a delicate texture.
The bluish-purple ones can have a slight wintergreen taste. I tossed a few pansies into a spinach salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing and it worked well together.
I’m not sure I would sacrifice the blooms for a salad again because we waited so long for spring’s arrival, I want the flowers to stick around as long as possible to keep things bright through mud season.
Green Bean, Carrot and Quinoa Salad
2 c. fresh green beans, steamed
16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. carrot, diced
1/2 c. red pepper, diced
1/2 c. quinoa, cooked
1/2 c. red onion, diced
2 T. parsley, chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 T. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Add green beans, garbanzo beans, carrot, red pepper, quinoa, red onion and parsley to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper; whisk to combine then drizzle over bean mixture. Toss to coat and serve.
Spinach Salad with Pansies
2 c. fresh baby spinach
1/2 c. peas
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c. carrot, diced
1/4 c. edible pansy flowers
1 T. olive oil
2 tsp. raspberry vinegar
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
Add spinach, peas, red pepper and carrot to a bowl. In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar and whisk together. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine; add pansies and garnish with salt and pepper before serving.
Green Bean Sun-Dried Tomato Salad
2 c. fresh green beans, steamed
2 c. Israeli couscous, cooked
3/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 c. broccoli florets, steamed
1/2 c. red peppers, chopped
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2 T.truffle oil (or olive oil)
1T.fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
Add green beans, couscous, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and red peppers to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add oil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt and whisk together. Drizzle dressing over green beans and couscous mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.