Plus a recipe: Spring into Summer Salad with Berries, Peach and Rose
Spring is giving way to summer. Pungent, astringent, bitter greens like arugula, dandelion, mustard, purslane and pea are yielding to summer’s sweet, cooling foods like strawberries, stone fruits, melons and squash.
As the season turns, there are easy, delicious ways to transition your meals. Here are five.
Mint is the perfect herb for summer as it dilates and cools. It’s like turning on an internal fan. Toss on any dish, sweet or savory, or infuse in water, tonics, teas. You can also chew on the leaves for breath-refreshing relief any time.
Berries are cool. They burst with juicy flavor. They add bright color to every dish. They are cooling, calming, refreshing, pitta-pacfiying, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory nourishment to the brain, nerves, liver, skin.
With more Vitamin C than a lemon, lime increases the absorbability of nutrients by up to five times. Its high mineral content creates an alkaline reaction in the system to relieve heat-related issues such as inflammation, peptic ulcer, dehydration, headache and skin eruptions. While lime is a citrus with the sour taste that aids digestion, it is also bitter, giving it a more cooling energy. Lime peel is particularly bitter and adds refreshing zest to summer salads, tonics and teas.
Grown in the tropics where it is practically always summer, coconut is a perfect hot season food. With sweet, healthy hydration to restore moisture, minerals and electrolytes, coconut is so optimal for humans it has even been used in I.V. drips. Coconut water is nature’s closest substitute to blood plasma, and therefore quickly absorbed for high-speed restoration.
Rose is soothing, astringent and cooling, yet it supports agni, the digestive fire. This unique quality makes it balancing for all three doshas, but it is especially calming, pacifying for pitta and in the pitta season of summer.
Sweet and juicy, light and refreshing, these are just a few of summer’s gifts, inviting us to slowdown, give way, and yield to the beauty of the season. The recipe below, a bright fruity play on the classic Tuscan Panzanella, celebrates the dance of spring into summer with the freshest ingredients available now.
Spring into Summer Berry Peach Salad
This can be prepped up to 24 hours ahead. You can use any bread, including gluten-free. Youcan also mix up the berries by combining a variety of whatever is most fresh. Be generous withthe herbs: the flavor contrast with the fruit is enlivening. Also, please use a good olive oil. Nothing too bitter, nor too bland. The delicacy of the fruit needs a truly refined oil.
Stale bread, torn into bite size pieces to make 1-2 cups
1 carton berries - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, as available
2 ripe peaches
4 leaves of dandelion
8-10 mint leaves
1 handful basil
small handful of cilantro leaves
2 large handfuls arugula1 handful rose petals1 handful shredded coconut
1 tablespoon rose water1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil pink salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Toss your bread pieces into a medium-sized salad bowl. Rinse your berries, pat dry, and add to the bowl. Cut the peach into small pieces on a cutting board, saving the juices, and pour all of it into the salad. Tear the dandelion into small pieces and, with the mint, basil and cilantro, toss
with the fruit.
Zest the lime, then juice it. In a small bowl, whisk the zest and juice with the rose water, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and gently stir in. Cover and allow to stand for at least half an hour before serving so the bread soaks up the juices. Refrigerate if it will stand longer than 30 minutes.
Before serving, toast the shredded coconut in a pan on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once you are ready to serve, lightly toss. If the bread looks dry, slowly add more lime juice anda light drizzle of olive oil - not too much or it will turn into a soggy mess.
Serve on a bed of arugula, garnish with the rose petals and a sprinkling of the toasted coconut. Enjoy it with a rose mint tea, or a fennel tea, rather than iced tea, to keep digestion as strong and as beautiful as summer.