Nasturtiums. Those were my inspiration for this summer salad. The other day while taking a walk with my dad, we wandered down a path that led from a grassy park to a dip in the terrain where the only plants are native, gnarled and drought tolerant. It wasn’t til our way back up from the bottom when I noticed them, however. The nasturtium flowers – their orange and yellow blooms popping in the undergrowth. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but you can eat their flowers, and they make any dish look that much more beautiful. We kept walking, admiring the flowering trees up ahead, but last night I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I started daydreaming, while lying in bed, of making the most perfect and colorful summer salad with fresh produce straight from the farm.
The Ecology Center, located in San Juan Capistrano is one of my favorite places for farm fresh produce. Not only is it fresh, it’s organic. You are literally eating straight from the earth and trees when you purchase from them. So, today it was off to the farm. Over the years, it’s gotten bigger and bigger and is truly a community hub. I wandered in and started imagining my plate – what did I want this summer salad to look like? I picked up juicy blood oranges, bright red strawberries, gigantic blackberries, and the perfect little blueberries, among other things. But, the one remaining ingredient? Those nasturtiums I had seen the other day.
So, on the way home I took a detour, back to the green park to pick a few wild ones. I knew they would be the perfect accompaniment to this sweet and tangy fruit salad.
Once home, I washed the berries and citrus and got to work. I sliced up the strawberries and blackberries and scattered some blueberries among them. Next, I cut off both ends of the blood orange and removed the flesh in its perfect red/orange slices. I added some salty feta and basil in thin chiffon strips. Next, crunchy pink sea salt, followed by a light drizzle of olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar, pulled everything together.
Lastly, the nasturtium flowers, placed every so gingerly among the berries and citrus. It was beauty on a plate. Exactly how I’d envisioned it in my head.
Summer personified and sometimes it pays to daydream. Enjoy.