If you have a garden, like I do, you're probably eating a lot of salads right now. (And giving neighbours a lot of extra Kale, in my case). If you do not have your own garden, head to one of the numerous Farmers' Markets in your city, and take home a happy bounty of affordable fresh produce. Every Saturday, you can find The Erudite Eater casually perusing the Hollywood Farmers' Market in search of the few produce items I am lacking in, for the week. For example, I never did get around to making that new bed for Italian Squash.
The greatest thing about eating your garden is the immense satisfaction and nourishment that one has provided one's self. Planting, tending, and harvesting have deep ritualistic ties to my inner contentment. And let's face it, I love to eat.
I've seen a lot of recipes floating around lately that are based on fresh ingredients and salads in particular. Try picking up a food magazine that doesn't dedicate a fair amount of space to produce this time of year. The problem I find is this. I don't want to go spend $50.00 at the market to supplement my garden salad with a bunch of frou frou ingredients to make it special. What makes it special for me is inherent in what I already have. And I'll work from that.
Simplicity is at the core of what I consider a good salad.
Keep in mind that a salad should reflect what you have to work with at the time. I go out, and pick until I have whatever I feel I need. This is a somewhat organic process, in that it changes, based on what feels natural (or necessary), to pick. Then, I compose the salad.
Here is a simple variation on a rather popular type of salad to try.
Green Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese
Greens (I use a variety of baby lettuces, escarole, kale, etc...)
3 or 4 Beets
Goat Cheese (Trader Joe's has a log of Silver Goat at an easy to digest price)
Red Wine Vinegar
Wash and peel beets. Cut into bite sized wedges, drizzle and toss with some olive oil and roast at 400 F until tender, (about 40 minutes). Cool. Wash greens, and tear into pieces in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar. Think 3 parts oil to one part vinegar as a general rule. Toss with greens, toss in beets and sea salt and crumble cheese over the top.
It's all you really need.