Farmer's Market Find: Purple Basil Summer Salad

Admittedly, I don’t always go to the Farmer’s Market as much as I’d like to.  I tend to stick closer to home and visit my local grocery stores.  But, when I visit the Farmer’s Market, I always wonder why I don’t go as often.  When I lived in Georgia, I remember lamenting about how much I missed Los Angeles’ farmer’s markets. And the beach.  Now, that I’m back, I’ve been to both but now with great frequency. So, I made the commitment and in an instant, I was drawn to the sense of community I always feel when I visit.  I gushed over the stalls of fresh produce and talked to the growers.  Now, that it is summer, the latest and greatest summer produce is at its tastiest and prettiest.  Enter my Farmer’s Market Find: Purple Basil

Purple Basil has a stronger flavor than its green counterpart and looks awesome in recipes.  I grabbed it and immediately thought salad. And a Purple Salad at that.  I added Red Leaf Lettuce, Purple Potatoes, Easter Egg radishes, Roasted Beets, and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes.  This is a salad full of antioxidants specifically for its purple foods.  Purple foods contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which give fruit and vegetables their deep red, purple or blue hues.  For this salad, feel free to experiment and add in other purple, blue hued food such as grapes, blueberries, eggplant, and so on.


Purple Basil Summer Salad//serves 2

1 bunch red leaf lettuce
2 red beets
1 lb purple fingerling potatoes
1 cup fresh fava beans, (from 1-pound pods)
1 lb purple string beans, stem end trimmed
1 lb dragon string beans, stem end trimmed (optional)
1 bunch of Easter Egg radishes, rinsed and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I used heirloom cherry – another farmer’s market find)
1 bunch purple basil
1 cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400’.  Coat beets lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper and wrap beets in aluminum foil. Coat purple fingerling potatoes in oil, salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Once they are ready, remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil.  Add the fresh shelled fava beans and cook for two minutes to blanch them.  Once done, drain the beans and set aside to cool.  Once cool, you can remove the skin by squeezing the bean with your thumbnail to push the bean out. 

For the salad assembly, remove the skins from the beets and slice into wedges. Cut the purple fingerling potatoes in half.  Rinse the salad and add the beets, purple potatoes, radishes, the purple and dragon string beans, cherry tomatoes, fava beans and purple basil.  Sprinkle feta cheese on top along with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Note: Fava Beans come wrapped in a thick outer skin.  They are green, thick long version of green beans but contain beautiful fresh beans that look a bit like a lima bean. 

To release the beans, break open each pod by tearing off the end and pulling the string like seam.  Once opened, there will be about 4-5 beans.  Cook in boiling water for a minute or two, blanch in cold water, and squeeze out the bean from its waxy coating.