Daily Archives: 24 May 2010

Garden Mania

What a fabulous weekend! The weather was warm and sunny. We did our errands in the convertible, saw friends, ate well, and I was productive in the garden, though there is so much more to do.

I planted all the annuals and shrubs I bought last weekend. I still have to find homes for the plants I bought the Lexington Field & Garden Club’s annual plant sale. I promise to add some garden photos to a future post.

I put out most of my garden ornaments though I guess that, last year, the ones that hang on the house took an indoor vacation. We had the house painted last summer, and when I went to hang things up in their historical spots, I noticed that all the nails are gone. We went in search of stainless steel nails (no rust) with limited success. Ended up with galvanized, but nothing hung. The hanging becomes a weeknight project. However, the things that don’t get hung are in place: the gazing ball, the various metal insects, the concrete animals, you get the idea.

This year, Mama Robin is back too. She’s building a nest in her usual spot on the shady wisteria pergola. We’ve hosted fledgling families for many years. Fortunately for us, she picks a location that allows surreptitious viewing from the kitchen window.

To fuel all this garden activity, I made Taco Salad for lunch. Do you ever wonder what you can do with all the baby chips at the bottom of the bag of tortilla chips? You know, the ones that are too small to dip into salsa or guacamole? Some people might just throw them out. I save them for taco salad.

Many of the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator lent themselves to Tex-Mex flavors. That means that taco salad doesn’t require much advanced planning. It’s really more of an idea than an exact recipe. You just make it with what’s on hand. If you don’t have something, leave it out. If you have something else that appeals to you, add it in. I usually make it with as a vegetarian salad with beans, but you can add or substitute chopped chicken or fish if you have it.

Taco Salad
Serves 2 – 4 (depending on appetites and accompaniments)

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped and washed
Whole leaves from a generous handful of cilantro (you can throw them into the salad spinner when you wash the lettuce)
Chopped tomatoes (half of a 1 pint container of grape tomatoes)
2 – 3 scallions, sliced
1 avocado, diced
2 cups cooked black, pinto, or kidney beans, drained and rinsed well, if canned
(listed in my personal order of preference)
2 oz Pepperjack (or sharp Cheddar) cheese, grated
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
½ cup (or more) crushed tortilla chips
Salsa Dressing

Other ingredients that are nice additions: chopped chicken, leftover grilled salmon, corn kernels, chopped olives (I like Kalamata)

Combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss with salsa dressing. You probably won’t use all the dressing. Use as much as you think it needs.

Because of the tortilla chips, this salad doesn’t keep well. The chips get too soggy.

Salsa Dressing:
¼ cup salsa (red, green, whatever you have and like)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup canola oil (not olive, it’s too strong for this)
Combine ingredients in a mini-blender