While I mostly think of lettuces when I think of salad, there is a salad that we eat in the summer that uses no lettuce at all. It contains either tomatoes, a lot of parsley, a little mint, bulgur wheat, lemon juice and olive oil (it’s a simple version of tabouleh), or it leaves out the mint and bulgur wheat and adds in a lot of finely diced cucumber and some finely diced onion.
I grow the primary ingredients (except for the bulgur wheat) for both salads. In the seed tray right now, the tomato and parsley seedlings are up and looking great. The mint overwinters in the yard, and the onions have been growing for awhile already and will be harvested over many weeks – starting with slender green onions in April and ending with “keepers” that will last, I hope, through much of the summer salad season. I’ll plant the cucumbers directly into the garden in mid-April.
Both versions of the salad rely on the lemon juice and olive oil for a lot of their flavor. I’m pretty sure that growing our own olives to press for oil would be more trouble than it’s worth, especially since I’d probably have to put up a greenhouse to keep the little trees alive, but lemons are a different story.
I don’t have a lemon tree, but my Louisiana sister does, and she just sent me four lemons that weigh about one pound apiece. They contained a lot of lemon juice that is in my freezer right now, setting up in ice cube trays. When the lemon cubes are completely frozen, they’ll be dumped into a freezer bag, to await their use in summer salads.
Some years, I have bought organic lemons at this time of year (when they are cheapest!) to squeeze and freeze, but it is exponentially nicer to have lemons from a sister. I hope other gardeners’ summer salads are coming along as nicely!