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Inspired by France, this salad celebrates a change of seasons

Recipe: Provençal salad with herb-spiked lemon vinaigrette

This colorful, flavorful salad combines vegetables from late summer and early fall.

This colorful, flavorful salad combines vegetables from late summer and early fall. Kathy Morrison

Early fall is a time of harvest celebrations throughout southern France – and Northern California, too. It’s when a bounty of fresh vegetables are still available before colder months ahead.

A collection of fresh vegetables including radishes with tops, a red bell pepper and orange, purple and yellow carrots
Vegetables direct from the farmers market.

A trip to Provence – and its famous farmers markets – inspired this colorful, flavorful salad. The same ingredients also can be found in Sacramento-area markets. (After all, we share very similar Mediterranean climates and grow many of the same crops.)

With an abundance of textures and tastes, this salad makes the most of late-season summer vegetables (the last of the fresh tomatoes, green beans, red pepper and zucchini) and combines them with the first potatoes and radishes of fall.  Garbanzo beans, Mediterranean-style black olives and hard-boiled eggs add more flavor and substance.

A lemon vinaigrette seasoned with herbs de Provence ties it all together. Herbs de Provence is a mix of dried herbs typical of southern France (and Sacramento): Oregano, savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme plus lavender (what really gives it that Provençal accent).

Haricot verts – skinny French green beans – are perfect for this salad, but other varieties of green beans will work, too. If beans are small enough, use this blanching method to preserve their crispness and bright green color: Wash, string and trim beans. Place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over beans. Let sit for 5 to 6 minutes. Add ice to cool water. Let sit another minute or two, then drain. 

Provençal salad with lemon vinaigrette
Serves 4

Green beans in water in a bowl
Blanch the beans with boiling water.

Ingredients:
1 cup green beans (preferably small haricot verts)
6 cups lettuce (preferably loose leaf), torn into pieces
1 carrot, grated
8 fingerling or baby potatoes, boiled until tender and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 beet (roasted or boiled), cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup cooked garbanzo beans
¼ cup Mediterranean-style black olives
4 radishes (preferably French breakfast), thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 large or 4 small tomatoes, chopped or quartered
½ red bell pepper, chopped
4 eggs, hard boiled and halved
Lemon vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Instructions:
Blanch green beans. Set aside and let cool. 

Cover serving platter with torn lettuce. Sprinkle grated carrot over lettuce.

Arrange on top of lettuce bed the blanched green beans, chunks of boiled potato, the beet pieces, garbanzo beans, olives, radishes, zucchini, tomato, red pepper and eggs.

Detail image of salad with egg halves and vegetables
The lemon vinaigrette is the final touch.

Make lemon vinaigrette. Drizzle over salad. Serve immediately.

Lemon vinaigrette

Makes about ½ cup

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

¼ teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Put lemon juice, oil, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk until combined. 

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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