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Sesame Kale Salad

Cauliflower may have taken the lead as the trendiest vegetable, but I still love kale. It’s easy to grow in spring, fall and even winter if you live in a warm climate. It’s a great addition to soups, pasta and frittatas. My friend Alison Chino gave me this recipe for sesame kale salad tossed with an Asian-inspired dressing, sesame seeds and pickled onions. To make it a meal she suggests adding a piece of grilled salmon. Get more of Alison’s recipes on her blog.

Golden Cherry Tomato Salad

I have to tell you about a cherry tomato that I’ve been growing in my vegetable garden this summer that is absolutely marvelous. It is called ‘Sungold’ and as its name implies, it is a golden yellow variety. It is a prolific producer and one of the juiciest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. The tomatoes have a “melt-in-your-mouth” quality that is a perfect blend of acid, sweet, and earthy flavors.

The plant is at its peak production so I’ve been collecting lots of the half dollar sized fruits. Most of them I eat on the spot, but I did manage to collect a few for a tasty tomato, shallot and caper marinade.

The first time I tasted this no-fuss tomato salad was at a friend’s house. She made it with some homegrown pear tomatoes that gave it that fresh just-off-the-vine flavor. Since then, I’ve tried her recipe with several different varieties of tomatoes and each time found it to be a delicious, versatile dish that works well as a side, sauce or appetizer.

Cucumber and Red Onion Salad

A few weeks ago I featured a tomato and Vidalia onion pie that I discovered while at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Well, this cucumber and onion salad is another great recipe that I was introduced to while there. It is a perfect way to use up end of the season cucumbers that you have growing in your garden.

If cucumbers aren’t a part of your garden’s harvest, select those at the supermarket or farmer’s market that are firm and deep green. Avoid any that are overly large or shriveled. Cucumbers will keep for several days in a refrigerator crisper.

Sometimes cucumbers have a bitter after taste. This is due to a naturally occurring compound called cucurbitin. All cucumber plants contain varying amounts. Sometimes this compound makes its way to the fruit.

It has been suggested that peeling your cucumbers from the blossom end toward the stem end, and stopping about an inch from the stem end, will eliminate some of the bitterness. This is because the cucurbitin is often concentrated in the skin, stem and light green layer under the skin of the cucumber. It is best to rinse your peeling knife after each slice so as not to spread the bitter taste.

This salad is extremely easy to prepare. It is a great addition to those end-of-the -summer cookouts!