Summer Garden Jumble

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SUMMER GARDEN JUMBLE-A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!

A no-cook, plant-based meal that’s nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!

 

 

The best thing about this hearty salad (besides being easy, healthy, fresh and flavorful!) is that you can store it in the refrigerator for convenient scooping throughout the week.

Or it can be enjoyed as a once-and-done, no-cook meal.

Plus, it’s endlessly customizable, so you can make the most of your favorite seasonal produce while it’s at its peak.

Don’t have tomatoes? Skip them. Have an abundance of zucchini? Use it instead of the cucumber. White beans may be subbed for the black beans, and slivers of kale or spinach could be tossed in-or used to replace the green element when fresh herbs aren’t available. Like feta? Go for it. Love almonds? Use them instead of (or in addition to) the seeds-I say the more crunch the better! Chicken could be mixed in for additional protein, the dressing allows for personal preference…and the list goes on.

This is meant to be effortless, healthy summer eating at its best!

SUMMER GARDEN JUMBLE-A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!

Have you ever considered the merits of a good “refrigerator salad?” By that I mean a salad that tolerates storage over several days. This type of salad is sturdier than the typical green salad, which as we know becomes rather limp and soggy after a night in the fridge.

The upside of sturdier ingredients is that they tend to be heartier, too-resulting in a salad that can better serve as the main dish instead of merely accompanying it.

Such is the case with the following jumble of colorful produce, which is bolstered with protein-rich beans, crunchy nuts or seeds, creamy avocado, fresh herbs and a handful of other goodies you may wish to include.

Conveniently, you may utilize pantry and refrigerator staples to balance the seasonal produce in this vibrant bowl, which ultimately hits a wide array of flavor and texture notes. I think the visual appeal adds a little something, too.

SUMMER GARDEN JUMBLE-A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!

I’ve mentioned before that, when having corn on the cob, I always cook a few extra ears to use in future meals. The leftover kernels provide an at-the-ready starch that has a certain satisfying quality. For more in the way of complex carbs, you could certainly add a cooked grain like quinoa, farro or even pasta to this salad, along with or instead of the corn.

Other ingredients that really supply satiating appeal to this meal include the beans (thanks to their fiber and protein), avocado (healthy fats and a creamy, binding texture) and nut or seeds (again healthy fats and fabulous crunch).

I should mention that my husband enjoys a topping of crushed tortilla chips instead of the nuts and seeds. Also, if you’re a cheese fan, crumbled feta, sharp cheddar or creamy mozzarella offer a few possibilities.

Again, this salad presents a flexible framework upon which you can build and adjust to perfectly suit your tastes. It also serves as a practical way to clean out the fridge and use odds and ends that have been lurking in the pantry a little too long!

As for the dressing? It’s flexible, too. I have linked several that I regularly reach for, but you may absolutely choose what sounds good to you, whether homemade or store-bought.

SUMMER GARDEN JUMBLE-A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!
  • A satisfying plant-based meal, although chicken and a variety of other animal proteins could be added

  • Perfect when you don’t want to cook

  • A “refrigerator salad” that holds up well in the refrigerator for easy lunches or dinners throughout the week

  • Endlessly customizable 

SUMMER GARDEN JUMBLE-A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!

A few final details…

  • When I prepare this meal for use over several days, I prefer to top individual servings with the avocado and a liberal sprinkle of pepitas, sunflower seeds, etc. That way, the avocado maintains its color and the seeds (or nuts if you prefer) offer maximum crunch. If you prefer to do everything at once, you may do so. The avocado will brown and the nuts will soften slightly but will still taste fine.
  • You may choose unsalted or salted nuts and seeds, as preferred. I do lean towards salted for that extra bit of flavor. If using unsalted raw nuts or seeds, a brief toast in the oven or on the stovetop will coax out more flavor.
  • You may use your favorite store-bought salad dressing, but a few of my favorite homemade options include the following: Peruvian Green Sauce, Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (you may wish to double this recipe), Creamy Balsamic, Basil Vinaigrette or Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette.

 

Summer Garden Jumble
Yield: 4 entrée servings
A no-cook, plant-based meal that's nutrient-rich and endlessly customizable. Store in the fridge and simply scoop when hungry!
Ingredients
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black bean (rinsed and drained; may substitute favorite white beans)
  • 3 cups corn kernels (cooked or raw if very fresh)
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup; I often use half red, half orange or yellow)
  • 1 cup seeded and diced cucumber (about half a large)
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped tomato (or halved grape or cherry tomatoes)
  • ½ cup mix of fresh herbs, chopped (like basil, chives, dill, mint, cilantro, etc.)
  • ¼ cup minced red onion (or ½ cup sliced scallions)
  • Dressing options: Peruvian Green Sauce, Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, Creamy Balsamic, Favorite Balsamic VinaigretteBasil Vinaigrette or your favorite store-bought dressing
  • For serving: 1 avocado, diced; ½ cup mix of roasted sunflower seeds and pepitas (may substitute or add chopped nuts of choice; crushed tortilla chips are another crunchy option); salt and pepper
Instructions

Add the beans, corn, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, herbs and onion to a large bowl. Drizzle with enough dressing to lightly coat. (Start with about ¼ cup and add to taste.) Make ahead tip: at this point, the salad may be covered and refrigerated until ready to eat.

Just before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the chopped avocado and seeds. If expecting leftovers, you may wish to use these ingredients as a topping in order to maintain maximum freshness and crunch.

Variations

You make this a grain-based salad by stirring in about 3 cups cooked (from 1 cup uncooked) rice, quinoa or grain of choice. In this case, just make sure to have sufficient dressing to coat to your liking and note that the yield will be greater.
Beyond the substitutions already noted, feel free to add or subtract ingredients based on personal preference and what you have on hand – chopped zucchini or celery, shredded kale, spinach, cabbage or carrots, sliced radishes, and so on.
Two cans of beans may be used for double the protein.
As is, this salad is vegan, but if that’s not a concern you could add feta cheese, grilled and chopped (or even rotisserie) chicken, chopped hardboiled egg and/or cooked and crumbled bacon.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

 

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Comments

  1. Susan Ericson

    What a great idea! I am putting one of these together ASAP! With members of the household needing to be gluten free, we often need to take our own food, even if just out shopping. This should pack well and taste great!

    Reply