I'm writing this during that period in spring where a day can begin with frost on the ground and end with everyone wearing T-shirts and shorts. It's weather mood swing season in Wisconsin and that tends to have optimistic Wisconsinites firing up the grill and eating in the great outdoors ... even if that means slipping a jacket on to keep the chill at bay. And if you're in that mode, you'll want to make sure you have some fresh food on the table as well.
That is where a colorful chopped salad like this one comes in. Packed with loads of fresh vegetables and treated with a simple dressing, salads like this one are a mainstay of spring and summer dining at my home. The particular vegetable selection tends to change with local produce availability, but the idea of chopped crunchy and tender vegetables in a range of colors is the foundation of the idea. This particular version gets a beautiful splash of color from the pink and white striped candy cane beets I had on hand, although just about any crunchy, sweet vegetable would also work well.
I've had this salad with so many meals, it's hard to point to something it wouldn't work well with. That said, it's downright brilliant with grilled meats and dishes involving complex sauces. A simple salad with a lot of texture and color is just what meals like that crave. And, given the time of the year, it's also what I'm craving too!
- 1 cup coarsely chopped candy cane beet, golden beet, carrot, or other sweet, crunchy vegetable
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 1 yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, combine all of the prepared vegetables; set aside.
In a small resealable jar, combine the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper; seal the jar and shake vigorously. Taste the dressing and adjust seasonings.
Add the dressing to the vegetables in the bowl and toss well to coat. Serve immediately.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes