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A tale of two salads creates easy summer eating

By: Susie Iventosch Special to Home & Garden
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Farmers’ markets are in full summer swing and these two salads are hearty enough to enjoy as a main course, but also chock-full of fresh seasonal fruits or veggies. The variety of produce varies from one market to another, so use your imagination to concoct your own version of these dishes. For example, I intended to use some beautiful yellow peaches I’d picked up at the market for the chicken salad. But once cut, they did not seem to hold up nearly as well as the firmer nectarines, so I switched my plan to include the nectarines. I would also recommend doubling the candied nut recipe. They disappear quickly when left unattended! The tri-tip salad is also very good as a summer dinner entrée. If you are not in the mood to marinate your own tri-tip, you can stop by Longhorn Meat Company and pick up a pre-marinated steak. “The Santa Cruz marinade would be great for this recipe,” said Matt Mastrella of Longhorn. “It is a spicy, Mexican fajita-style marinade.” The meat for both salads can be prepared and cooked several hours or a day ahead, making dinner time quick and easy. Grilled chicken salad with fresh fruit, avocado, candied nuts and two cheeses (Serves 4) Ingredients: 1-2 heads (depending on size) butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (save some large leaves for lining the bowl) 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and cut into small bites (grill ahead of time and cool) 4 ounces bleu cheese, cut into cubes (if possible), or crumbled 4 ounces white cheddar or Dubliner, cut into small cubes 1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half lengthwise 1 cup Queen Anne cherries, pitted and cut in half (My aunt always used a hairpin to pit the cherries, but you can cut the cherry in half and pop the pit out with your fingers. Or, use a cherry pitting gadget available at Newcastle Produce.) 2 nectarines, sliced 2 avocados, cubed 1/2 cup candied nuts (recipe below) 1 recipe golden balsamic dressing (recipe below) Directions: To serve, line a large glass salad bowl with butter lettuce leaves. Place torn lettuce in bottom of bowl and arrange nectarine slices around edge of bowl. Toss remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl with dressing, and transfer into the salad bowl, surrounded by lettuce leaves and nectarines. Serve! Golden balsamic dressing In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix the following ingredients and shake well: 1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar (available in most markets in the vinegar section) 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper Salt to taste Candied nuts 1/4 cup walnut halves 1/4 cup pecan halves 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon cardamom 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper 2 tablespoons brown sugar In a frying pan, heat oil. Add nuts and cook over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown. Toss in spices and stir to coat over nuts. Add brown sugar, and continue to cook just until sugar is bubbly, stirring often. Remove from heat and cool. Break into smaller pieces and set aside until ready to toss salad. Tri-tip salad with fresh corn, tomato, avocado and salsa vinaigrette Ingredients: One 2-pound beef tri-tip 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning One head Romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces 1-2 avocados, cut into bite-size chunks 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks 1 red bell pepper, diced 3 ears corn (corn cut off ear) 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 10-15 tortilla chips, crushed over top of salad 1 recipe salsa vinaigrette (recipe below) 1 recipe marinade for beef (recipe below) Marinade Juice of one lime 1/4 cup canola oil 1/4 cup salsa Salt and pepper Salsa vinaigrette 1/2 cup canola oil, or light olive oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/4 cup salsa (fresh is great, bottled is fine) 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder 1 small clove garlic, minced Salt and pepper to taste Directions: Rub Cajun spice over entire tri-tip and place in a container with tight-fitting lid. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over tri-tip. Marinate for several hours in refrigerator. Grill tri-tip ahead of time to desired doneness, (can be the day before), so it is cooled by the time you are ready to assemble salad. In large salad bowl, mix all salad ingredients and toss with dressing. Serve with slices of tri-tip and crushed tortilla chips on top. ---------- • Longhorn Meat Company 13131 Lincoln Way Auburn (530) 823-0275 • Newcastle Produce 9230 Cypress St. Newcastle (916) 663-2016 • Foothill Farmers’ Market www. foothillfarmersmarket.com Placer County Visitors Guide-Farmers’ Markets www.visitplacer.com/county-farmers-markets.aspx