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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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