Continuing to celebrate Pollinator Week, today we have a recipe for a salad that is jam-packed with good ingredients, and every single one, from the mustard in the dressing to the pumpkin seeds, required pollination to help them grow and reproduce. As you’ll see, the salad looks absolutely beautiful and represents everything that is good about summer. But before you dig in, say thanks to every pollinator that played a role in bringing this food to your table.
As we mentioned on Monday, about 75% of the food we eat required pollinators to grow and produce seeds. That seems like a lot, but when you look at this salad, it’s so easy to see how that’s possible. In making this salad, I used information from this USDA document to determine which foods required pollination. As you’ll see, I got a bit creative with this salad, but if you have a family of cautious eaters, you can look at Table 1 in that document and find ingredients that suit your household. For example, I didn’t even put tomatoes, which are such a common salad ingredient, in this dish, but they are on the list!
During the growing season when there’s so much fresh food available, I like to get creative with my salads. As you’ll see, today’s salad is a complete 180 from our Winter Salad, which relied mainly on canned ingredients. This one includes fruit in the form of fresh strawberries (eat them now, because the season’s almost over!). Roasted pumpkin seeds are added for a bit of crunch. I use hakurei turnips because they are delicious eaten raw (we love adding them to egg salad sandwiches!) and they are at almost every farm stand at this time of year. Beets and avocado are in there because I love them. And carrots, because we needed some orange!
I made a super simple dressing for this salad, as it just requires four ingredients, and again, all required pollinators! When we make a homemade vinaigrette, we always include four components: oil, vinegar, something sweet, and mustard. Today I kept it that simple, but sometimes we’ll add other flavors such as a touch of fresh citrus juice or fresh crushed garlic.
We like to keep almost empty jam and mustard jars just for mixing our vinaigrettes. Just add all of the other ingredients to the jar, give it a good shake, and you’re ready to pour. On this particular day, we had an old mustard jar in the fridge that was waiting to be used for dressing. Mustard plants? Pollinated by bees!
The vinegar we’re using in this recipe earns its pollinator status because it’s infused with the flavor from fresh chive blossoms! Did you catch our video of the Large Bee-fly pollinating our chive blossoms?! Making this couldn’t be easier, and the end result is a vinegar that’s a beautiful pink color and infused with the delicious flavor of chives. Of course, if you don’t have time to make the vinegar, you could always substitute your favorite vinegar and then just add some chopped, fresh chives to the salad.
To make the vinegar : fill a jar 2/3 full with organic chive blossoms, then fill the jar with basic distilled or white wine vinegar. Let the vinegar steep for about two weeks, and then remove the blossoms. If you’re concerned about bugs or dirt in your blossoms, you could give them a quick soak in cold water and then dry them in a salad spinner, making sure to remove as much of the water as you can.
In this dressing, I’m using Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves. The blueberries, as you may have guessed, are pollinated by bees. The preserves further enhance the pinkish color of the dressing from the vinegar, and the whole blueberries add such a nice sweet morsel to bites of the salad (when you’re lucky enough to find one on your fork!
Rather than give you exact measurements, I always think it makes most sense to just list the ingredients used for a salad. You can add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. And I promise, everything on this list requires the help of a pollinator, whether it’s a bee, a butterfly, or even a bat in the case of the avocado!
- beets (we buy the pre-steamed beets that are commonly available in the grocer’s produce section)
- grated carrot
- artichokes (we like the canned, seasoned chokes)
- pumpkin seeds (lightly roasted in a pan on the stovetop until they just begin to pop)
- thinly sliced red onion
- hakurei turnips
Unfortunately for you, I’m so bad at sharing dressing recipes because we always wing it, but if you make a dressing enough times, then you’ll also get pretty good at throwing ingredients in a jar and shaking up something you like. The key to making your own is tasting it. If it’s too vinegary, add a touch more oil, or maybe it needs a bit more of something sweet.
- sesame oil (olive oil relies upon wind pollination, but sesame plants benefit from cross-pollination by a variety of insects)
- chive vinegar (see our notes above to make this simple vinegar infused with chive flavor)
- blueberry preserves
I commonly use about equal amounts of oil and vinegar. then I add about a tablespoon of preserves and rely upon whatever mustard is left inside the empty jar.
Whether you make this salad, or decide to have a dinner of watermelon and cashews (both insect pollinated!), we hope you’ll take a moment before your first bite to thank the pollinators that made your meal possible tonight.