by / Monday, July 11, 2011

Fruit and Grains Salad w/ Edible Flowers and Strawberry Vinaigrette (inspired by Garden Spells for Cook the Books)

 This isn't my first post inspired by the enchanting novel Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  I love to sit down with the Waverly family and conjure up a little of my own inner magic when I see bushes bursting with beautiful berries, trees dripping with ripe fruit, and colorful flowers shouting and waving in the bright sun.  I want to host an intimate ladies luncheon and serve "biscuits with lilac jelly...lavender tea cookies...and tea cakes made with nasturtium mayonnaise".  Or perhaps an outdoor garden party in the evening shade, sitting under a canopy of bougainvillea and serving "fried dandelion buds over marigold-petal rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup" which ensure that my company ignored any flaws at my home and reveled in its beauty.  Or maybe a picnic with people who are on shaky ground with each other and a basket heavy with rose geranium wine that ensures a return to happiness.  Thinking of garden spells makes me want to stir the petals of a velvety, purple violet into silky white cake batter.  It makes me want to eat an apple thrown from a feisty tree and fall asleep to dream my future.  Getting lost in a world of enchantment is something I've done easily since I was a little girl.  If you like getting lost, too...grab a plate of this salad packed with lettuces, herbs, fruits and edible flowers straight from the earth around my yard and community garden with some added grains and nuts to make it a satisfying meal.  The combination of nasturtiums and marigolds should guarantee your affection of the book in hand.
Fruit and Grains Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
an original from the kitchen of girlichef
serves 4-6

2 Tbs. champagne or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
pinch sugar
3 strawberries (or 2 if very large)
~1 Tbs. lemon balm, chopped
⅓ c. neutral/light flavored oil (like grape seed)
1 Tbs. water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

4 c. mixed lettuces, ripped or sliced into big-bite-sized pieces
1 c. cooked brown rice
1 c. cooked barley
1 c. blueberries
1 c. strawberries, halved if large
1 c. chunked sugar kiss melon (or cantaloupe)
1 c. mulberries
handful of edible flowers/petals (nasturtium + a few of their leaves, marigold, yucca, strawberry, thyme)
¼ c. chopped, mixed herbs (basil, lemon balm, thyme, mint, chives)
½ c. toasted, chopped nuts (macadamia &/or pecans)

Strawberry Vinaigrette
freshly ground black pepper
Strawberry Vinaigrette:
Place everything in the jar of a blender and whirl it all up (salt and pepper, to taste).  That's it!
Basically, just combine everything so that it looks pretty in a large, shallow serving bowl.

Toss your lettuces together if you're using more than one kind and then cover the bottom of the bowl.  Spread out your grains and fruits.  Sprinkle everything with the herbs and flowers/petals.  Add the nuts.  Let everybody dish out portions and pass the vinaigrette and pepper mill.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is the current Cook the Books selection, chosen by CTB host Rachel of The Crispy Cook (thanks, Rachel).  Submissions are due on 7/25/11...so there's still time to read this book and join in.

*More enchanting Sarah Addison Allen selections... The Sugar Queen (my favorite)The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper (not as food centered as the others, but equally charming)*


I am sharing this post with:
cookthebooks Souper_Sundays2 Simple and In Season July my meatless mondays tnsc YBR

Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.


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