Simple Garden Syrups

Boiling Up Some Garden Bliss

As I write, I’m watching a dainty little doe nursing her long legged spotted fawn just a few feet from my window. Awww, right? So all my kale has turned into Bambi, so my roses and strawberries are pruned to the ground, so my hardy fuchsias are nibbled into weirdly tidy balls (primal topiary?). Baby deer are pretty sweet, gamboling about like lambs and frisking merrily among the container plantings. Sigh.

The only plants that haven’t been deer ravaged are the fragrant herbs, from rosemary, lavender, and chives to thyme and sage. I use fresh herbs daily, in everything from scrambled eggs and sandwiches to salads and stir fries but I also love to make savory herb salts and sweet herbal syrups. This week, I harvested a few rugged rugosa rosebuds from a battered bush that had once overflowed its huge tree pot. They smelled fantastic, so I decided to capture that sweetness in a simple syrup.

Saving Up Summer Goodness

Simple syrups are just that; extremely simple mixtures of cane sugar and water, boiled for a few minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Before electricity and freezers were common, most fruits were canned in simple syrups, which helped preserve their quality and flavor. Simple syrups can be flavored with all sorts of things, from vanilla beans and peppercorns to toasted fennel or coriander seeds. In summer, it’s delightful to capture the fleeting scents and tastes of herbs, flowers, and even fruit in such syrups. The primary rule here is to use only organically grown fruit, flowers, and foliage, as pesticide residues are definitely not edible.

Though syrup recipes abound, you may discover that your own preferences demand more or less of a given flavoring agent. Maybe you like a mint syrup that really zings, so you bump it up to two cups of leaves. Maybe you want a thyme syrup that whispers rather than shouts, so you knock it back to a few sprigs. That’s why it’s wise to work out your own recipes by starting with small batches and keeping good notes. Once you make a few, don’t be surprised if you get caught up in a creative fervor. Basil syrup! Cilantro! Spearmint! Meyer Lemon! Rose petal! Keep this mad invention under control, though; while some blends work well (lavender and rose petals, basil and lime), too many ingredients can make for a muddle. (Ask me how I know….)

Basic Simple Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water

Combine in a saucepan and boil for five minutes. Cool, store in tightly sealed glass jars and refrigerate until needed. Keeps indefinitely.

Garden Variations

Where shall we start? I love Rosemary syrup, which takes lemonade to new heights of refreshment and sophistication, adds a splash of vim to cocktails or ice tea, and tastes fabulous mixed into a watermelon and cantaloupe salad. While most forms of Rosmarinus officinalis taste similar, various kinds can have decidedly different flavors, so make a small batch with each to see which you find most appealing. I prefer Tuscan Blue for most culinary purposes, though Miss Jessup’s Upright, Spice Island, and Sudbury Blue all boast lovely fragrance and flavor as well.

Rosemary Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup leafy rosemary twigs (mainly young tips)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Add rosemary, remove pan from heat, cover pan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Taking Thyme

Thyme is one of my favorite culinary herbs and I grow as many kinds as I can find. Try making this simple syrup with various kinds; my go-to is made with Lemon Thyme (Thymus x citriodorus), but most forms of Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) are also delicious. The only one I didn’t enjoy was a batch made with Caraway Thyme (T. herba-barona), but some people loved it in cocktails (!?). Drizzle a little over steamed green beans, add a bit to a basic vinaigrette, or mix with lemonade or fizzy water for a refreshing summer cooler.

Thyme Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup leafy thyme twigs (mainly young tips)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Add thyme, remove pan from heat, cover pan and steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Spearmint Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1 cup spearmint leaves

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Add mint, remove pan from heat, cover pan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Basil Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Genovese basil leaves (or any kind you like)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Remove pan from heat, add basil, cover pan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Capturing The Rose

Rose syrup is deliciously perfumed and tastes amazing in cocktails, fruit salads, or spooned over warm shortbread or ice cream. Stir a spoonful into lemonade or hot chocolate for a romantic moment, or add a tad to a plain vinaigrette, along with a handful of fragrant rose petals, to zip up a plain salad. Use rose petals of the same color for the prettiest syrup. If the flavor isn’t as bold as you’d like, add up to half a cup of food grade rose water (sold in shops that carry Middle Eastern foods).

Rose Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
2 cups rose petals (just opened from buds)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Remove pan from heat, add rose petals, cover pan and steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Lavender Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons lavender blossoms (opening buds are best)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Add lavender, remove pan from heat, cover pan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for up to a month. Makes about 2 cups.

Zesty Lemon Variations

Lemon syrups have a zillion uses and keep indefinitely if refrigerated. Meyer lemons have an especially floral fragrance, and the syrup they make is rather mellow. When I find big organic lemons in the market, I make simple syrup and add strips of lemon peel to the sugar water before continuing with the recipe below. Boil for five minutes, then dry the strips on a baking rack and pour the remaining syrup through cheesecloth to get the zest bits out. I even save those, because they’re delicious sprinkled on butter cookies or used as a garnish for desserts.

(Meyer) Lemon Syrup

1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 organic lemons)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Lemon rind strips (optional)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil (*), stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and zest, cover pan and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth, cool and refrigerate in tightly sealed glass jars for at least a month. Makes about 3 cups.

(*) This is where you do the bit with the strips.

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Jammin’ In The Kitchen

When Hestia Goes Astray

Over the past decade or so,I’ve gotten very fond of Hestia. For those who are not up to date on their Greek Pantheon, Hestia is the goddess of the hearth and home. She is in charge of homely things like cooking and all the domestic arts. The well being of the family is in her care, which is intriguing since she flatly refused to marry and bear children. Hestia’s also the inspirational spirit for architecture, and as the keeper of the flame, is also responsible for the State. That being so, I’m thinking she has her hands too full trying to straighten out the state of the State to spare me any kitchen time just now and let me tell you, I miss her!

Now, I love cooking, especially if I’m making something to share with others. Thinking of their pleasure in lovely food and working with beautiful, fresh ingredients puts me right in the zone. Creativity flows, ideas follow each other seamlessly, seasonings sing out happily to be included. I’m a process gal, and I enjoy chopping and slicing and mixing and blending and all the fussy little bits. Even when I’m making something fairly complicated, the process feels enticing and effortless. Usually. However, we all have days when we should really stick to tea and toast. If we don’t respect those natural down times, the result is apt to be memorable, and not in a good way. For example, here’s my latest recipe that I wouldn’t actually encourage any one else to try:

How To Make Raspberry Jam

Pick a day when you are tired, distracted, and already busy. Search large kitchen of rental house for all needed tools which you put away with creative imagination several months ago. Measure out sugar and mashed fruit, heat not quite enough jars and lids, dust off rather elderly packet of pectin. Umm, pectin doesn’t go bad, does it? Surely not. Bring fruit to boil, stir in pectin and boil as directed, get ready to fill jars. Discover sugar still sitting in it’s measuring cup on the counter. Oops. Add sugar in wrong order, cooling off the boiling mass instantly. Oops. Bring jam (possibly?) back to a boil, despite probably over-cooking the pectin. Result definitely looks odd.

Decide what the hell, and proceed with filling and sealing jars, discovering that you are short several lids. And jars. Find more of both and put in hot water as jam cools. Reheat jam (tastes fine, looks funny). Discover large lump of something (sugar? Pectin?) on bottom of jam pan. Stir it in anyway. What can possibly go wrong? Spill a good deal of hot jam when you drop ladle. Process filled jars in hot bath for ten minutes. Put jars on cooling rack, scalding yourself several times. Listen with satisfaction as they all seal promptly. Decide who amongst your acquaintance would be kindest about the result and make gift labels.

Don’t Stop Believing

Amazingly enough, after all this wrong doing, the jam came out better than good. Even the last jarful, the one that got the extra dollop of something, tastes great, lively and a little tart, with a pure, strong raspberry flavor. The odd look was apparently all about the foam, of which there was more than usual, but the finished product looks fine. If the set isn’t super firm, at least it’s not pourable syrup, as sometimes happens when bad things happen to fairly good people. If there is a point to all this, I guess it’s that perfection is not really a realistic goal, and thank goodness for that. If we don’t have to try to be perfect, we can focus instead of producing pleasurable, wholesome, healthy food that tastes great, for ourselves and others.

Before I go on to offer some reliable recipes I do want to point out that some commercial pectins do in fact expire, especially if stored in hot or damp conditions. Fortunately for me, I use Pomona, a vegan, gluten-free, no-GMO and citrus-based pectin that stays good indefinitely if the packet is intact. You can use it with cane sugar or maple syrup, stevia or concentrated fruit-based sweeteners with equally good results. Thus that aging packet still gave good results despite improper technique and lots of floundering. I like that in a food product, because no matter how fabulous a cook you might be, some floundering is bound to occur, and how pleasant it is to know that your family and friends won’t necessarily need to know about.

Peach Picking Time

Some fabulous peaches are available right now, with more on the way. Here are some delicious things to do with them that don’t require much fussing. To make things easier on yourself, remember that you can peel peaches easily if you dip them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Fish them out with a deep ladle and carefully peel them when cool enough to handle; the skin will slide off easily. You can also use nectarines, which don’t need peeling if you put them in chutney.

Peach & Pepper Chutney

2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup dried pitted tart cherries
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
(Braeburn, Gala, or Jonathan are good)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, salt, and cardamon
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
4 hot 8-ounce canning jars, with rings and lids

In a large pot, combine first 9 ingredients with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until slightly thickened (20-30 minutes). Add spices and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Spoon into hot jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch head room. Seal jars, then process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let cure for 2-3 weeks and refrigerate after opening. Cooked chutneys keep for a long time when processed in canning jars, but should be refrigerated and used within 2 months after opening.

Preserve Or Conserve

Back in the day, chopped fruit put up in syrup was called preserves, while conserves usually involved whole or halved fruit. Conserves are generally less sweet than jam and feature larger pieces of fruit, often mixed with dried fruit and nuts. Often spicy or sweet-hot, they are used like chutney, as a condiment or partnered with soft cheese as an appetizer. Conserves are also lovely spooned over plain cake or ice cream or served in a baked pie shell.

Lemony Peach Preserves

4-5 ripe peaches, peeled, stone kernels reserved (optional)
3-4 cups sugar
2 organic lemons, juiced, rind grated, seeds saved

Chop peaches and measure. Crack the stones and reserve the inner kernels (optional). For each cup of peaches, measure into a saucepan:

3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon rind (and seeds).

Boil and stir this syrup for 5 minutes, then stir in fruit and cook at a low boil until almost transparent (6-8 minutes). If fruit is very juicy, add juice to syrup and boil hard for 3-5 minutes to reduce volume, then fish out any noticeable seeds (little ones vanish), add fruit, and proceed as above. Ladle into hot jars, adding a peach kernel to each jar for a lovely flavor. Allow flavors to meld for a week before serving (if you can resist).

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Harvesting & Preserving Herbs

Garden To Kitchen Delights

As summer ripens, so do many of our garden treats and treasures. Herbs and berries, root crops and legumes are at their peak, while summer squash and tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are coming on quickly. When the garden is large, it can feel like a full time job to capture the bounty before it passes its prime. Fortunately we can employ some time proven techniques for preserving foods in forms that remain tasty and useful for many months.

Hot summer days awaken essential oils that create both flavor and medicinal benefits in our kitchen herbs. When we harvest and dry or freeze them immediately, our home grown herbs retain far more flavor than store bought ones, especially if the commercial ones have been sitting in our kitchen cupboard for very long. Even when we grow our own herbs, it’s easy to forget that they can grow stale quickly in warm, humid kitchens. Give your dried herbs the sniff test and taste a little to see if they’ve lost their savor. Toss any that fail on the compost heap, along with any spices that are past their sell-by dates.

And Keep Them Tasting Great

Whether you buy dried herbs or dry your own from the garden this summer, you can extend their shelf life by freezing them in tightly sealed containers. Keep just a tablespoon or so ready to use, since you can refresh supplies anytime with stock from the freezer. For frequent use, herbs and spices are best stored in small glass jars with tight fitting lids, so you can see what you’ve got and how fresh it looks. Glass also protects flavor and prevents fragrance crossovers better than plastic. This is especially important if your herb and spice rack is right next to the stove, where it’s very convenient but also exposed to flavor-degrading heat and moisture.

For fullest flavor, harvest fresh herbs in the morning while the foliage is still refreshed by dew. Ideally, you’ll want to gather leafy herbs from unflowered stems, as blossoming changes the chemical composition and therefore the flavor, and not for the better. For soft, leafy herbs such as basil, chervil, chives, mint, oregano, and parsley, trim up to half the length of the stems each time you harvest. They’ll grow back quickly and can be gathered again every few weeks. Only rinse herbs if they are dirty (unusual), as immersion in water can dilute the essential oils. Dry fresh herbs in a single layer on bakers’ cooling racks over clean newspaper in a warm, dim, dry place (attics are great). When crisp, store them in labeled, tightly sealed glass containers in a dim place (not a sunny windowsill, as sunlight and heat degrade essential oils). To keep dried herbs potent for months, freeze in double containers (sealed glass jars tucked inside plastic boxes works well without flavor loss or contamination).

Saving Flowers & Seeds

To preserve floral herbs such as borage, chamomile, lavender, parsley, and sage, pick blossoms when the buds begin to open but are not fully expanded. Dry and store them as noted above, using the screen-type cooling racks so the little flowers don’t fall through the gaps as easily. If it’s seeds you’re after, whether from celery, coriander, dill, fennel, or poppies, allow seed pods to ripen fully before harvesting. If you’ll be away at a critical moment, cover the ripening seed pods with draw-string muslin bags (often used for tea brewing or herbal bath salts) to capture any that burst before you’re ready to gather them.

To dry woody-stemmed herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and lavender, gather twiggy stems, rinse briefly if need be and dry in a salad spinner. Arrange them as above on bakers’ cooling racks, and when leaves are brittle (3-5 weeks), gently strip off stems (save them to toss on coals when grilling). If you dried your lavender blossoms separately, you can later harvest the leaves for use in potpourri and moth repellent sachets. If you need to speed things up, you can dry both annual and perennial herbs, leafy or twiggy, buy placing them in single layers on baking sheets in a cool (200 degrees F) oven overnight or until crisp (around 12 hours).

Playing With Herbs

You can also have splendid fun by weaving small kitchen wreaths from rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano, decorated with dried chilies and garlic. Simple wire wreath frames in various sizes are available at many nurseries, or you can make your own with grape vine prunings or willow wands. It’s easy and extremely pleasant to create fragrant pot pourri and sachets or soothing bath salts, all simple projects children enjoy as well; all that marvelous tactile and olfactory stimulation is wholesome for everyone. For closet sachets, add some citrus zest and cloves to sachets to discourage moths. Sew small bags of lavender to tumble with drying clothing, or turn muslin tea bags into sachets of rose petals and fragrant herbs to toss into a steaming tub without clogging the drain (ask me how I know).

Of course there is no reason why you can’t use fresh herbs straight from the garden to enliven an omelette or a salad or practically anything, savory or sweet. As when using any herbs, fresh or dried, you’ll get the most impact add them during the final 15-30 minutes of cooking. When using herbs to flavor dressings or steamed vegetables, heat the chopped or crushed herbs in a little oil with minced garlic or onion to waken their flavor first. High summer is a brilliant time to make herb salt blends that are extremely popular holiday gifts. If you will use them up within a week or so, air drying is sufficient, but if you want to stockpile for gift giving, always bake off your herb salts, after which they will keep indefinitely.

Herbal Salt Blends

I like to wander through the garden clipping a little of this and a bit of that, then grind the herbs with flaked sea salt to create seasonal blends that grace anything from fish or poultry to desserts (but of course; sea salt with lavender, chamomile, and pepper is brilliant on berries). As a rule of thumb, you can add anywhere from a teaspoon to a quarter cup of goodies per cup of sea salt. However, it is imperative to oven dry the more richly endowed blends or they can mold despite the preservative qualities of salt. You can use any kind you like, but I prefer to use medium flaked sea salts over coarse ones (which don’t melt evenly) or very fine ones, which don’t maintain their relationship to the herbs very well. But that’s just me.

Meyer Lemon Pepper Salt

1 teaspoon tellicherry peppercorns
1 cup medium flaked sea salt
Finely grated zest of 2 organic Meyer lemons

In a dry frying pan, toast peppercorns over medium heat to the fragrance point (about 1 minute). In a blender or coffee grinder, (not a food processor), grind peppercorns with 2 tablespoons salt. Add to remaining salt and grated lemon zest and toss until evenly mixed. Spread in a very thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until salt mix is slightly crisp and brittle but not brown. Store in a tightly sealed jar. Makes about 1 cup.

Italian Herbal Salt Blend

1 teaspoon dried pepperoncini flakes
1 cup medium flaked sea salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon stemmed oregano
1 teaspoon stemmed rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

In a food processor, grind pepper flakes with 2 tablespoons salt. Add remaining ingredients and process until evenly ground. Spread in a very thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until salt mix is slightly crisp and brittle but not brown. Store in a tightly sealed jar. Makes about 1 cup.

 

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Festive Food For An Explosive Occasion

The Dark Side Of Fireworks

Here on scenic little Bainbridge Island, The Grand Old Fourth Of July has become something of a circus. When my kids were small, we often participated in the all-island parade, which used to mainly consist of floats for various local, kid-centered activities and usually quite creative entries dreamed up by local businesses and service groups. Kids stomped along gamely, carrying banners that drooped periodically as the youngest ones stopped to wave at neighbors or family. People lining up to dunk a popular adult in the splash barrel good naturedly got out of the way as the parade wandered by. Candy was tossed, streamers flapped, dogs barked at horses, balloons escaped small hands. Bands played merrily, the musicians managing to play while either marching in more-or-less step or balancing precariously aboard a rickety float.

Sometimes special interest groups would step up: library folk strutting their synchronized book cart stuff, or basset hound owners united! Once in a while we’d get the Wells Fargo Wagon, pulled by handsome horses, or Blackbird Bakery would produce its huge, many-legged pie, crust slices flapping open to reveal a flock of young kids decked out as blackbirds. T&C staffers swam downstream in a giant silvery salmon costume and skip ropers performed dazzling feats of skippery. Back in the day, the family might be taking part in several floats, so once we reached the finish line with, say, the cub scouts on a firetruck, we’d rush back to join a group of Little Leagers or sing old timey music with an impromptu band in the bed of somebody’s elderly pickup.

Small Town Parade Makes Way Too Good

These days, the parade has become a major attraction that brings many thousands of people to our small island (30,000 last year). The narrow main street has become so densely thronged that the fair booths have been pushed off to side streets, and along with local folk fund raising for local causes, many are now manned by professional vendors. Traffic is congested for hours and parking is ridiculous. Instead of friendly calling out to neighbors and friends as they pass by, packed sidewalks make it hard for parade participants and observers alike to see who’s actually in the parade, now over a mile long. Does this sound sour?

Sorry. It’s obvious that the new, gigantic version pleases many, many people far more than it does grumpy old me, yet I’m pretty sure the reason all these happy, pleasant visitors are here is because they, too, want a taste of that little old home town version. Even as their arrival alters the nature of the event, they apparently like what they see even more as it morphs. Ok, stop. Hmmm. Maybe I’m so out of sorts because my sleep has been broken for the past week by explosive barrages of fireworks. Not just a few now and then, but lengthy sequences that are very, very loud. My cat huddles nervously at the back of my bedroom closet as neighborhood dogs howl in fear and panic. Sleepy birds startle in the trees, and I can only imagine what the local deer and other wildlife feel about what surely sounds like gunfire to them. I think too about our area’s refugees, recent arrivals from war torn parts of the world where such sounds definitely were not celebratory but terrifying.

No Turning Back?

All this jumbles in my weary brain as I struggle to find something cheerful and positive to say about the state of this beloved little island, about our beloved America, and the beloved world we all share. However, after thrashing it all out, I find that I wouldn’t really choose to turn the clock back to another time. Despite the many horrible trends and unconscionable events of recent times, the people of this world are making progress. Though we hear little about the many positive trends and events, they are happening. Though the current wars are horrific beyond measure, there are fewer wars going on right now than ever in history. Though hate crimes are being reported more openly and frequently, there is less violent crime in general than ever before. Though old guard (and mostly white) men in positions of power are doing their utmost to oppress and exploit everyone else, younger generations are far more open to change and tend to honor progressive ideas.

Anyone who reads history is aware that this country, and indeed every country in the world, has never been a place of peace and prosperity for the many. For millennia, the 99% lived in deep poverty while today, less than half the world’s population is desperately poor. The fact that several billion people live on the edge of starvation is certainly not great, but better than those bad old days? Yes, and the improvement continues worldwide, if in fits and starts. As of this year, nearly two thirds of the planet has a cell phone and over half the world population uses smart phones, creating an unprecedented flow of communications and international connections. I have to believe that as we hear and see each other more often and more easily, we will come to reject deliberate polarization and move toward understanding and respecting our diversity. And that starts with us, now.

Food For Fireworks

Ok, I’m done with the diatribe. Sorry. Let’s move on to something more palatable, like…food! Here’s my favorite seasonal salad, just in time for the family picnic. Ready?

Red, White and Blueberry

Bursting with blueberries, sweet onions, and exploding-in-your-mouth cherry bomb tomatoes, this refreshing salad partners well with almost anything. Serve it with Fireworks Dressing for a delightfully invigorating experience.

Red, White and Blueberry Salad

4 cups young salad greens
1 bunch red arugula, chopped
1 cup flat Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup basil, chopped
1 Walla-walla Sweet onion, chopped
1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, finely diced
1 pint blueberries, stemmed
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

In a serving bowl, toss greens and herbs gently. Top with cheese, blueberries, and tomatoes. Pass with Fireworks Salad Dressing. Serves 4-6.

Fireworks Dressing

Lively and spunky, this dressing is also great over fish or chicken. To modify the heat, use less exuberant quantities of the chipotle or green curry sauce.

Fireworks Salad Dressing

1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider or wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed
OR 1-3 teaspoons Thai green curry sauce

Combine oil, vinegar and garlic in a covered jar and shake well to blend. Add pureed chipotles or green curry sauce to taste, starting with 1 teaspoon. To serve, drizzle over greens and toss gently. Makes about 1 cup.

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