This time of year, the colors in our produce section are vibrant. It seems like every week something else comes into season. But sometimes, all those fresh fruits and vegetables can overwhelm a shopper.
When we’re not sure what we want to do with our produce, we tend to fall back on recipes we’ve used before. At The Purple Onion, we want to encourage you to try some new ideas that will change up your meals in simple and fresh ways.
One of those ways is to look at fruits and vegetables as perfect salad matches. There are many ways to switch up a salad’s taste, and that may encourage you to give a second look at the fruits and vegetables in your local market stands.
This time of year, many of the fruits and vegetables we buy are literally farm-to-table foods. For that reason, we encourage you to take care of your purchases to ensure they are fresh and ready to eat when you’re ready to serve them.
It only takes a few minutes to prep the fruits and vegetables, you just need to know which ones require special attention.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend that you wash fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or commercial produce wash. These can leave residue on produce.
Also, you should not use bleach, even if it is diluted, to destroy germs on fresh produce. While it will certainly destroy harmful microorganisms, it should not be ingested.
The best way to clean produce is under gently running cold water. Clean fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting or cooking unless you have purchased pre-packaged produce that has already been washed.
Washing or scrubbing produce under cold water will remove any dirt or germs on the skin, even if you are going to peel the produce before you eat it. You should also cut away bruised or damaged areas before preparing or eating. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean paper towel after cleaning them.
If you’re working with leafy greens, spinach or leeks that can have a lot of dirt, place the produce in a large bowl of cold water, swish it around to remove the grit, lift it out, and drain in a colander. You want to make sure you don’t dump the gritty water back onto the food; try setting the colander inside the bowl so you can easily lift the leaves out. If there is still grit left on the food, repeat the process.
Gentle fruits like berries should not be cleaned until you are ready to prep them for serving.
In recent years, the watermelon and tomato salad has been popular. Although technically a fruit-and-fruit salad, we like its clean taste and it lets you make the most of summer produce that’s readily available. The recipe we are sharing features heirloom tomatoes and some feta cheese for a little tang.
Strawberries are plentiful right now and add a bright pop of color to the dinner table. If you’ve tried a strawberry and spinach salad, you might like to swap the spinach for other fresh veggies and try this strawberry garden salad with a tangy basil vinaigrette. Full of flavor and crunch, it makes a great side with grilled meats.
For a light and healthful green salad, consider the bibb lettuce, green apple and avocado salad. It features a sesame-green tea vinaigrette that bursts with flavor. This salad should be assembled just before serving. It would be great with grilled chicken glazed with an Asian sauce.
Looking for a new salad for a pasta dinner? We think this orange, onion and walnut salad can do the trick. Quick to make, it is great year round.
The peach salad would be perfect with grilled pork. The tang of the onion and Dijon mustard goes well with the peaches and fresh herbs. Although the recipe doesn’t call for grilling the peaches, you might want to give that a try for added flavor. After all, you’ve got the grill hot, right?
Finally, here’s a kale and apple salad that’s simple and tasty, giving you one more reason to pick up some nutritious kale while you’re shopping.