Prairie Garden Summer Salad

The Best Thing I Ever Ate so far this summer!

My good cyber friend, Valerie, aka More Than Burndt Toast, started a brilliant little blogging series called: The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I think she should do it again. It seems to me she did it in late Winter. I posted my preserved oven roasted tomatoes then. This Spring, The Best Thing I Ever Ate was my thinly sliced French Breakfast radishes with butter and fleur de sel on bread. This summer, it is this Prairie Garden Summer Salad.

Why? Fresh.

Fresh everything. Freshly shelled garden peas. That would almost be enough. Young sweet garden carrots, freshly cut crisp garden beans, and gorgeous mild zephir zucchini. Luscious cherry tomatoes bursting with flavour.

Why else?  Crunch!

Crunchy fresh summer garden vegetables and crunchy savoury salty tasted seeds.

And the sweet, tart dressing was definitely the crowning glory of this salad. A subtle little “hello”!

When Maria and I were at The Tomato Fare, this salad made an impression. I had to get the recipe! The gal at Prairie Gardens Adventure Farms booth serving the salad promised to send it to me if I wrote and asked her for it. How lucky are we?

This is a great salad and now I want to visit the farm. Check out their website. It looks like a blast for the entire family!

Time to get out my ancient bean slicer. I have not used it for over thirty years. It is a great little instrument that slices beans diagonally very quickly. Perfect for slicing blanched beans and freezing family portions in bags: almost as fresh as from the garden when they land on the table done this way! I am so glad I still have it. I used it so much as a  young wife! I bought most of the ingredients for the salad from the Prairie Gardens Adventure Farms booth, unless I grew them myself.

I had only seen Zephir zucchini at The Ferry Building market in San Francisco so was delighted to find them at The Tomato Fare!

I did have my own carrots and garlic in the garden. You will note carrots  are not even in the recipe! But, they were in the salad so it was either an oversight, or just inspiration. That is what should always guide a good cook, anyway. (The garlic was in the dressing.)

I bought a tub of peas from Prairie Gardens Adventure Farms and enjoyed shelling them, thinking of the salad! The snow peas are also a great addition and I have enjoyed them often in salads cut like this.

This is what I put in my salad. Each bowl is a generous cup. I would suggest a quarter cup of each item would feed 15 people as it is such a dense salad.. You can imagine how much salad I had! I could have had twice as many cherry tomatoes for balance, but did not need any more volume as I was making this salad for two of us at lunch and for five  of us for supper.

The amount you see below would have made about 50 portions. I kid you not. Live and learn! I was excited. What can I say? And, I had a blast making it.

This it is a salad you do not want to dress until just prior to eating. Another lesson learned. It looses a level of vibrancy.

Is this not summer in a bowl?

I had a beautiful heirloom Purple Cherokee tomato from the garden I sliced to mound each serving upon.

What a gift.

Prairie Garden Summer Salad Recipe

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 each of small zucchini: green, gold, Cousa, zephyr (4 zucchini)
  • 1 handful each of raw green, purple, yellow beans (3 beans)
  • 1 handful snap peas
  • 1 handful young carrots
  • 1 handful shelled garden peas (2 peas)
  • 1 handful chopped fresh basil
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes: Yellow Pear, Sweet Million
  • salted pumpkin and sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:

  • 30 ml black currant juice or cordial
  • 30 ml balsamic vinegar, white or red
  • 2 freshly minced garlic cloves
  • pinch Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 ml cold-press Canola Oil (made with the Polish seed)


  1. Chop vegetables into bite-sized bits
  2. Toss with cherry tomatoes
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender, except oil; add it in a steady thin stream with blender on high until emulsified; season to taste
  4. Slice large tomato; place on plates and spoon chopped garden veggies over the edge
  5. Drizzle vinaigrette over vegetables; sprinkle sunflower and pumpkin seeds on top

Note to self: Read carefully before exuberantly taking over: drizzling dressing over salad will keep it fresh much longer; adding seeds at the end will keep them crunchier longer!

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About Valerie Lugonja

Educator, Writer, Gardener and Traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home!

Join The Conversation!

  1. Thats beautiful, it looks chocked full of goodness!
    *kisses* HH

  2. This salad will be the best thing I ate “recently” when I make it in my own kitchen. I can’t wait to give it a try Valerie!The long weekend is coming up and the kids will be here, perfect timing!!

  3. I thought of Valerie as soon as I saw this post!

  4. Wow!Beautiful salad!!!Love the colors.Healthy and delicious!

  5. Love the mise en place photos…absolutely gorgeous!

    And, the best thing of this dish, is if you have leftovers, you could toss them with pasta the next day. Well, anyway, that’s the way my mind works. :)

  6. oh my goodness that looks gorgeous. I love the layers!!!

  7. This is one absolutely beautiful salad! Thank you for giving me the name of that zucchini. I have a fridge full and I didn’t know what it was…haha :)

  8. I love the look of this salad! And you have a bean slicer! That brings back childhood memories as we as kids always loved to slice the beans with it!

  9. Wow this looks absolutely delicious, what a fantastic salad! LOVE your blog and so glad to be a new follower! xoxo

  10. That is truly gorgeous! Awesome ingredients, can only imagine how good it must have tasted!

  11. Sounds great Valerie! I know I would love all those veggies, and I think the dressing could be great with lots of other salads too. Also, I’ve never seen (or even heard of) a bean-slicer before! very neat :)

  12. Hi daaahling, I’ve tagged you in my most recent post. No pressure to follow trough though, only if you want to.
    *kisses* HH

  13. I really want to make it. That looks too good. Thanks!

  14. This salad sounds amazing, Valerie! With fresh veggies and a great combination of flavors and textures – excellent!

  15. Very hearty and healthy!

  16. What a fresh and wholesome salad! I hope you are having a restful and happy Sunday. I’m just pulling out a batch of banana bread. Thank you for sharing with me!

  17. What a great looking salad. A lot of cutting and dicing but worth it. The dressing is my favorite.

  18. That does look delicious! And beautifully presented.

  19. Valerie, my dear! How have you been?! I go away for two weeks on vacation and look at how many posts I’ve missed! My oh my someone has been a busy blogger! Been having trouble with my internet since I got back as well so I’ve been MIA in the blogosphere for a while.

    What an absolutely beautiful, appetizing, and delicious looking salad! And my gosh! You seriously could’ve fed 50 people with the amount you showed us. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! Great choice with the addition of the carrot and then the tomato at the end to top the salad with. No wonder this was the best thing you ate so far this summer. A lovely salad indeed, my friend! Hope to catch up on the rest of your posts soon. Big hugs!

    • LQ
      I understand the MIA. It is hard to get back to it… but, I am forcing myself and the pleasure is once again motivating me.

  20. Looks so fresh and delicious!

    After a long day at work, that and a glass of wine would be so nice

  21. This is very nice. Congratulations!

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