First Summer Salad

Posted on June 22nd, 2011 by Tonia 10 Comments

Today we harvested salad greens from our garden for the first time this summer. They were so tender, so alive, and tasted like rain.

It has been raining here for days, and we are really starting to miss the sunshine. To lift our spirits a little, I made the most summery meal I could think of: Cherry-chipotle BBQ chicken sandwiches with homemade buns, corn on the cob, salad, and refreshing glasses of chocolate-mint water. Everything on the plate was delicious, but the dark green salad was definitely the “lagniappe”.

I used this recipe for the buns, and they turned out fantastic. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, golden, and yeasty. I made them a little smaller than the recipe recommends, and I ended up with 12 instead of 8. They were the perfect size this way, if you ask me.

For the BBQ chicken, I didn’t have a recipe. I had a bottle of this ridiculously good sauce, and a whole chicken from a farm nearby. It’s not often that we use “condiments”. Usually we make things like BBQ sauce, ketchup, and salad dressing from scratch {to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other gross ingredients that tend to be in condiments.} But this particular BBQ sauce happens to be really tasty, so we break our rule for it.

I cut up the chicken, put it {bones, skin, fat and all} into a dutch oven, and poured almost the whole jar of sauce over it. It cooked on the stovetop on very low heat for about four hours. I started pulling the meat off the bones at that point, removing the bits of skin and bones from the pot and leaving only the juicy, shredded meat. It cooked for about one more hour then, just enough time for me to get the corn and salad prepared.

The buns came out of the oven, the meat went on the buns, extra sauce went on the meat, the corn got a healthy slathering of butter, we tossed a few leafs of chocolate-mint {from our garden} into our water glasses, and the greens were tossed with oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed walnuts, and shredded parmesan cheese. Done! Such an easy dinner. So flavorful, summery, and satisfying.

Vegetables, including leafy greens, actually lose about 80% of their nutritional value after only about a week out of the ground. If we’re eating veggies that are being transported to us from far away, by the time they reach us we’re maybe getting 10-20% of the vitamins and enzymes that veggie had to offer. Just another reason why having a garden is so rewarding and worthwhile!

I tasted the sunshine and rain and life in our greens tonight…they were hugely different, more delicious, than anything we have ever gotten at the store. What a wonderful reward for all our hard work tilling, planting, watering, and weeding.


  1. Sammi says:

    This meal looks incredible!!

  2. Tonia says:

    Come over! I’ll cook for you. No tomatoes, I promise. :)

  3. Kaye Spaude says:

    I love your blog!
    Thanks for sharing the hamburger bun recipe!
    I am going to try it!
    Kaye Spaude (Alison’s Mom) : )

    P.S. I am also going to read that book “The Woman in White”; looks like my type of book!

  4. Sammi says:

    Hopefully I’ll have a few days off soon, and when I do, I’m there!

  5. Tonia says:

    Hi Alison’s Mom! We love Alison and Alan so much. They welcomed us right in, include us in fun things and introduce us to great people. Thanks for stopping by- enjoy the buns and the book.

  6. Patricia says:

    I just found your blog via Becoming Minimalist and I can tell I’m going to love it. I have never known anyone who even knows who Wilkie Collins is, must less have read his works except for myself. So- yay! I just read No Name which I can recommend. I plan to make this exact meal this evening. Can I ask where you get (or how you make) chocolate mint water? Sounds really good!!

  7. Patricia says:

    Oops- just re-read and realized how you did the chocolate mint water! :)

  8. Tonia says:

    Welcome, Patricia! I am kind of a Brit-lit nerd. I just finished Son’s and Lover’s (D.H. Lawrence), and it was excellent. Such great characters. I haven’t read No Name yet, thanks for the suggestion! Enjoy the meal- regular mint works fine, too. The chocolate-milt variety can be a little hard to fine, but if you find it and end up plating it, it spreads like nobody’s business so maybe consider keeping it in a planter rather than in the garden if you don’t want to fight it back every year.

  9. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the link to the bun recipe. I have been wanting to make my own bread for awhile and these look like the perfect thing for my first attempt!

  10. Tonia says:

    @Rachel, Smitten Kitchen does such a great job of explaining each step. You’ll do great! They’re really tasty.

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