Welcome to my Western Pennsylvania garden. Join me on a "Walk Down the Garden Path".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Salad Greens and A Salad Recipe

This is the first year that I have sowed seeds in April and in my raised beds I put in spinach, arugula, bibb lettuce, romaine lettuce, and swiss chard. I have to say, it pays to put your seeds in early. I never had any success with spinach but this year I actually had spinach grow. Now, the whole row did not germinate but I had four of five plants which I had to pick all of since the 90 degree heat last week was sending them to want to bolt ( do you blame them ? )

The lettuces are still looking good. I've had the bibb lettuce a couple of times now. Each time I pick it, I try to thin out the row. I haven't picked any romaine yet, but I probably will this weekend. We had some arugula when I was thinning the rows. Now it has all gone to flower but I will leave it since it brings the bees to the garden.

Here is a picture of the cleaned lettuce and spinach. To prepare it I picked it early in the morning so it would be refreshed from the cooler overnight. I let it soak in a sink of cool water, swished it around and made sure all the dirt and creepy crawlies were out of it, and then I spun it in my wonderful salad spinner. I stored it in the refrigerator, loosely packed in a large plastic bag with paper towels.

Now, with all these wonderful greens I didn't just make a regular salad. I made something new from Pillsbury Potlucks (one of those recipe magazines you find at the grocery checkout). I made the Layered Tortellini Pesto Chicken Salad with some modifications. Instead of the pesto dressing which they make I made Green Goddess Dressing with a mix I had from Penzeys Spice. This turned out very good. And it even was good the next day, although the lettuce was getting kind of wilty by the third day. But by then there was just the tiniest bit left so I ate it anyway. Here's my version.

Layered Tortellini Pesto Chicken Salad
Prep time: 40 minutes; Start to Finish: 2 hours 40 minutes; 8 Servings

1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
1 cup Frozen Sweet Peas (I used the whole package)
5 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups julienne carrots (I used 3 carrots)
2 cups chopped or strips of grilled chicken (I used 3 chicken breasts I had grilled, chopped up)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
(In place of the mayo, pesto, and buttermilk, I used 3 Tablespoons of Green Goddess Dressing, the dry mixture, soaked in 6 Tablespoons of Water before mixing with 1 1/2 cups of reduced fat mayo.)

1. Cook tortellini as directed on package, adding peas during last 2 minutes of cook time. Drain; rinse immediately with cold water. Pat with paper towels to remove moisture (I didn't do this because mine wasn't overly wet, but I put it in so you know the original recipe.)

2. In large clear bowl, layer the lettuce, the carrots, chicken, peas and tortellini, and the bell pepper.

3. In small bowl, mix mayo, pesto, and buttermilk. (Or in my case, make Green Goddess Dressing). Spread over peppers; sprinkle with parsley. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir just before serving.

Voila, the finished salad!

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