One of the most magical things about this time of year is the sheer beauty of colors & textures that erupt from the soil. I know I am not alone in revelling amidst the gorgeous greens and the pure, unadulterated lushness that reveals itself in the Pacific Northwest during these early summer months.
Whether it is food or flowers (or a glorious mixed bag of them all), it seems everywhere I look I see life sprouting up to say 'hey!' yet again for another short but spectacular season. I've stated before that I try whenever possible to buy local, and I frequent the farmers market here and there in addition to supporting my favourite local grocery stores (both are BC owned). It's true that prices at the market can sometimes be high, but I can't think of a better place to invest than in the future of our food systems as a whole. Given that fact though, I try to be sensible (as sensible as I can).
When eating a more plant-based diet, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we need an (IMO) excessive amount of variety in one sitting. While I agree that variety is important, I hope I am not alone when I say there's no need to go crazy overboard. Focus on the basics and cover your nutritional bases when shopping: a green vegetable, an orange vegetable, a grain, a protein. Planning meals around a few key ingredients that are seasonal (if possible), grown locally (when in season), and will be enjoyed in their entirety (read: no waste) is a great way to enjoy the bounty of our backyards without busting both our bank accounts & our brains with an overwhelming amount of choices.
Take this salad: one vegetable, a few herbs. All easy to grow. All relatively affordable. Easy to make, obscenely good for you, and remarkably delicious. We've resurrected this one a few times in our cooking classes, and every time it's a huge hit. The vinaigrette here is (almost) as basic as breathing, and kids get the biggest kick ever of squeezing the lemons by hand.
I know it sounds simplistic, but I can't help it, because it is (I find more and more that everything in life is). There are a million traps we can fall into or reasons why we think we can't be the change we want to see in the world today. Just a small shift in perspective can make a huge difference, and not just to our own lives. That is truly what I love about connecting through food, there are just so many ways to make an impact.
I hope you'll enjoy this simple salad as much as we do, with or without these friendly little chive blossoms -- I couldn't help but pick them when I walked by and saw their gorgeous little faces. Could you? ;)
Simplest Cucumber Salad
- (2) fresh cucumbers
- up to (1/4) cup chopped fresh chives
- up to (1/4) cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- (1/4) cup lemon vinaigrette
- black pepper & salt to taste
Simplest Lemon Vinaigrette
- (1/4) cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- (1/2) cup olive or vegetable oil
- (1 tbsp) sweetener or sugar
- (1/2) tsp salt
Start by washing the cucumbers well and peeling them decoratively as desired. Slice all the cucumbers crosswise into slices 1⁄2 inch thick, or as thick or thin as you’d like! Add to a salad bowl and prepare the remaining ingredients. Chop the chives and parsley both fine using a chopping knife, taking care to use the knife safely. Add the herbs to the cucumbers and mix gently.
Next, prepare the vinaigrette. Get a clean jar with a lid (or a container with a lid) and measure (1/2) cup vegetable or olive oil into the jar. Juice the lemons and strain the seeds. Measure (1/4) cup of lemon juice into the jar and then add the sugar and salt. Now shake it up! (With the lid on of course!) Before serving, pour (1/4) cup of the dressing over the cucumber mixture and stir well with a spoon. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.
If chives are out of season where you live, simply substitute a couple of minced green onions in for the chives. You can (of course) add whatever vegetables you have on hand to this as well, and the dressing will go well with just about anything, cooked or raw. Kept in the fridge, this salad will keep for several days without a problem, though the acidity of the lemon will soften the texture of the cucumber some.