It’s that time of year… My body has been screaming for salads for a few weeks, now. The weather starts turning warm, and I start craving fresh produce. LOTS of fresh produce. It’s in my genetic code.

When the weather cools (or gets downright freezing!) soups, stews, and casseroles are what I want. Hearty ‘stick-to-the-rib’ sort of stuff, but when there’s sunshine outside?!? Salad. Big, full-of-flavor-and-texture salad.

I made my weekly trek to the produce market yesterday and found lots of fun food. Little min-eggplants that had my name on them. Broccoli rabe, red and green peppers at an incredible (compared to the grocery store) price, asparagus, mushrooms, avocados, tomatoes, several lettuces, lemongrass, basil, raspberries, blackberries, plums…..

When creating a dinner salad, my only rule is that there are no rules! I really do like to mix flavors and textures, sweet with savory. I love the contrast with a sweet, juicy berry and a tangy vinegar. Or the softness of an avocado with the crunch of a carrot. And grilled veggies?!? I’m in gastronomic heaven!

We received a grill basket a few years ago from friends as a Christmas gift, and I’ve been putting it to use ever since. I chop up any melange of vegetables, coat with a bit of olive oil and ‘whatever’ – depends on what flavor theme I’m heading for – and onto the barbie…

Since we’re also carnivores, flank steak, London broil, chicken breasts, pork tenderloins – all of them are fair game for the grill – and the salad. Sometimes they go on the grill with little more than salt and pepper. More often, it’s a marinade of some sort that sets the theme of the salad.

Last night was a London broil with balsamic, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. I repeated the same basic marinade with the veggies. Onto the grill they went.

The final salad consisted of spring mix lettuce, green peppers, avocado, tomato, cute little grilled eggplant, broccoli, asparagus, raspberries and blackberries – and the london broil. The dressing was something Victor whipped up (he is king of salad dressings!) It was balsamic and olive oil based. We never -ever- buy premade salad dressings. I don’t care how “natural” the ingredients are on the label. They’re just too easy to make. Plus, it leaves room in the ‘fridge for all those other fun things we like!

With that lemongrass in the ‘fridge and some fresh Murray’s chicken, I think I’m going to go “Thai” tonight…..