Utilizing the delicious abundance of summer | TheUnion.com

Utilizing the delicious abundance of summer

Where is that beautiful platter? The one everyone gets for a wedding present and only comes out of the closet a couple times a year.

There are several examples of platter salads in the book, “Local Flavors,” by Deborah Madison. They are perfect for September dinners when the markets are full of delicious, fresh produce and the garden is overflowing.

A platter salad can turn that overabundance/chaos into a successful meal especially for those of us who can’t decide what to use first.

This is not rocket science. A platter salad is more of a challenge to describe than make. Following the principle that foods in season generally taste good together, a platter salad is a collection of compatible vegetables cooked when necessary, but mostly not, arranged on a large platter, and tossed with generous amounts of herbs and a mustardy vinaigrette.

The great thing is that you can re-create these salads every season with whatever you have available.

Choices for this time of year might include several varieties of potatoes (pre-cooked), radishes, lemon cucumbers, red and yellow tomatoes, string beans or garbanzos, and chunks of grilled squash or eggplant. Flavor enhancers to add might include capers, anchovies, or various olives. Showering the salad with herbs produces a layering of flavors – parsley, dill, marjoram, basil or chives – whatever combination appeals. As one friend said when she was visiting recently, “Every bite tastes different.”

These salads are a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and are easy to put together for two people. For guests, they make a beautiful presentation by tossing in the vinaigrette at the table.

If you’re already using the grill for meat, roasted peppers or a few grilled zucchini are tasty additions.

Serve with crusty bread and, if you choose, roasted meats or the tuna salad.

1 pound small potatoes, red, Yukon Gold, or purples

1 half pound green beans

A few radishes, cut in half

2 lemon cucumbers, cut into bite-size pieces

2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes

Red or green peppers, raw or roasted and cut into squares

2 to three small zucchini, grilled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 quarter cup finely chopped marjoram (or basil) and parsley


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon type mustard

1 to 2 cloves garlic

1 quarter teaspoon salt

Fresh grated pepper

Wash the potatoes, then place them in a small saucepan, cover with water and three quarters teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; simmer until tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain. Set aside to cool and cut into bite-size pieces. Wash green beans and cut off both ends. Add to a pan of simmering water for three to four minutes then dip in cold water (or serve raw).

Scatter vegetables on the platter in a beautiful display of colors and textures. Sprinkle herb mixture over all. Drizzle with vinaigrette at the table and enjoy!

1 half lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or two teaspoons dried

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, minced (about a half cup)

2 celery ribs or one small fennel bulb, chopped

2 tablespoons capers

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Two teaspoons sugar (optional)

1 6-ounce can of Albacore tuna

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a medium bowl. Add the dill, parsley, olive oil, onion, celery or fennel, capers, mustard, tuna, hard boiled eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk all together and serve.

Patti Bess is a local freelance writer and the author of Vegetarian Barbecue. She also worked as a recipe developer for Weight Watchers and Land O Lakes. Patti is the host of What’s Cookin’ on KVMR-FM. Questions or comments at pbess@jps.net.

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