Simple Winter Salad, plated and ready to eat. 

I miss lots of things about the summer. Time outdoors with the kids. Little bits of vacation snatched in over the weekends and after workdays. Simple barbecued dinners. But I think I miss my fresh herbs more than anything else, except maybe tomatoes. All summer long, I enjoy a plentiful supply of basil, thyme, lemon verbena, rosemary, and lots of other beautifully scented greens. I grow them on my deck, and it feels so good to snip a little bit of this and a little bit of that depending on my mood and what I think will work with dinner.

I'm not particularly talented at gardening, but I've always managed to grow herbs in containers.

With no end to winter in sight, I set out to create a salad that doesn't taste like supermarket veggies. I wanted a salad that tasted fresh and healthy, and that was easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. And, here in New Jersey, I have to make it with winter produce that travels from across the country. I was pleasantly surprised. I came up with a pretty summer-like salad.

Simple Winter Salad
During the summer, I use only tomatoes and I add a handful of basil or parsley, with just a little olive oil and some lemon or balsamic vinegar. In winter, the scallions and bell peppers add some 'kick.' I stay away from winter basil; I find it has a medicinal taste. And I use good quality sea salt, and a fresh Meyer lemon when I can get it. Both those ingredients give the salad a freshness. If you can't find any Meyer lemons, be sure to use a fresh 'ordinary' lemon or lime. The bottled stuff just doesn't cut it, especially when you're working with winter produce. 

1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half both lengthwise and crosswise
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 scallion, white part only, diced
1/2 a lemon, preferably Meyer (you can also use a lime)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably good quality sea salt
a dash of black pepper

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon over them (removing any pits) and toss in the oil, salt and pepper. Serve immediately or set aside for up to an hour to let the flavors come together. (Since there's no lettuce in it, it also stores great in the fridge for a day or two.)

The joys of summer. Fresh herbs growing on the deck. 

Diced yellow pepper

Chopped grape tomatoes

Some leftover salad for tomorrow's lunch