Enjoy Fresh Summer Produce Finale

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Med salad

Even though school’s back is session, summer’s bounty of fresh produce will last a few more weeks. If you haven’t experienced vine-ripened tomatoes this season, now’s your chance. They have so much flavor that some folks simply eat them sliced with salt, or make three ingredient tomato sandwiches.

While this salad recipe is a bit more complex, it also includes peak-season cucumbers, peppers are fresh herbs. The dressing adds sweet and sour tanginess with dates and lemon.

Mediterranean Salad with Lemony-Date Dressing

Ingredients for dressing:

1 large garlic clove, or 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Around 4 large or 1/3 cup chopped dates

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make the dressing, place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the dates and continue to pulse. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, several grinds of pepper, cumin and olive oil and process until smooth. Set aside.

Salad ingredients:

1, 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried

1 cup tomatoes of choice, bite-sized pieces

1 cup cucumber, seeds removed and chopped ¼” pieces

1/3 cup red, yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped ¼” pieces

¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped

2 – 3 ounces goat cheese, sweet flavor of choice

Place the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, and parsley in a medium bowl and toss with the dressing. After plating, garnish with mint and goat cheese crumbles.

Serves 4 – 6

Tips for cleaning fresh produce

No matter where you purchase produce, it needs to be properly cleaned before eating to reduce surface bacteria. Produce that has a tough skin, like melons, cucumbers, potatoes and squash should be scrubbed with a clean brush under running water. More delicate items like tomatoes or strawberries also benefit from friction under running water, but may not be able to withstand brushing, so use clean hands to scrub. As far as lettuce goes, if the package says that it has been washed and is ready-to-eat, then you don’t need to wash it. However, if it is freshly picked, tired-looking outside leaves should be removed and the lettuce should be held under running water, scrubbing with your hands as you are able. Produce washes and soap are not recommended, just cool running water.