Farmers’ Market + Backyard Tomato Salad
Photo from Instagram @MyPoorTiredLiver
This week’s recipe couldn’t be more refreshing, nourishing, and SIMPLE. We’ve all been seeing bright, colorful tomatoes at the markets lately. Let’s put them to good use!
You cannot find better tomatoes than what’s available at the local farmers’ markets right now in any grocery store— I guarantee it. Most of the fruits and vegetables found at your local chain supermarkets have been shipped in from California, Mexico, or Florida and were harvested before they reached peak ripeness on the vine. Because shipping a juicy ripe tomato would lead to bruising, splitting, and spoiling, the tomato industry picks them when they first show a hint of color but are still mostly green. Over the course of about 2 weeks (the lengthy time it takes for the tomatoes to reach your local supermarket in many cases) these premature tomatoes will turn red and partially ripen. Another way the tomato industry gets those seemingly perfect tomatoes to your grocery store is through force-ripening in warehouses with the use of ethylene gas. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? These grocery store letdowns are less sweet, more acidic, and lack any wonderful aroma that healthy, ripe tomatoes should have. To wrap this section up: buy freshly-picked, perfectly ripe tomatoes from your farmers’ market! They are picked the day before or same day you’re purchasing them.
Choose whatever kinds of tomato you like best. As a general rule, the deeper red the tomato is, the more lycopene. Small, dark red tomatoes have more vitamin C and lycopene per ounce than larger tomatoes… but I like to mix big beefsteak tomatoes, Cherokee purple, and yellow tomatoes in this salad, too. Variety of tomato (and color) provides this simple salad with depth of flavor and visual appeal.
In addition to the gorgeous tomatoes you’ll use for this salad, you can include other ingredients picked right from your own backyard! Dandelion greens are one of my favorite bitter greens for a number of reasons: 1. They’re free! 2. I love the bitter taste… they are an excellent addition to this otherwise sweet salad. 3. Dandelion greens are nutritional powerhouses; high in calcium, rich in iron, loaded with antioxidants AND dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. (If only Popeye had known!) Dandelion leaves contain 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids. One cup of dandelion greens contains 1.5 grams of protein!
Dandelions are also great for detoxification. Whenever I see my skin start to break out, I start including dandelion greens in my diet in the form of salads and tea… clears my skin right up! The condition of your skin is a great way to tell how your liver’s doing. (If you’re interested in learning more about holistic detox and plant-based nutrition, join me on one of Grow Yoga School and Hot Yoga Plus’ upcoming Living Foods & Yoga Retreat this September!)
Make sure, if you forage this element of the salad, you’re picking greens from an area that’s free of pets, roadside pollution and pesticides. If you don’t have access to an area like this, you can usually find dandelion greens for sale at Whole Foods in Green Hills.
Farmers’ Market + Backyard Salad Ingredients:
1 pint of organic mixed cherry tomatoes, quartered
1-2 organic beefsteak tomatoes, large dice
1 cup raw dandelion greens, torn into ½ inch sections
1 cup arugula
½ cup fresh basil, chiffonade cut
2 tbsp shallot and/or green onion, chopped
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon, orange, or lime juice
1 Tbsp local raw honey (or agave)
1 small garlic clove, crushed, peeled and allowed to rest 10 minutes
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black peppercorn, to taste
¼ cup olive oil (or ¼ avocado if you’re avoiding oils)
· Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in blender (except for oil) and blend until uniform throughout.
· Drizzle oil in slowly while blending to emulsify.
· Add all salad ingredients to large bowl and toss with vinaigrette
· Garnish with basil flowers, salt & pepper, and additional chopped fresh basil.
Consider this: Next time you’re weeding your garden, save the dandelion greens that pop up for salad! You can also eat the yellow flowers and stems.