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“A Handful of This” Garden Salad

Some days you harvest enough of one kind of vegetable from the garden to freeze or can for future use, and some days — like when the weather’s been cool — you have only a little bit of this and a little bit of that ready for picking. This salad is just what you want to keep in mind for those days.

I didn’t name it “A Handful of This” for nothing. It literally takes a handful of this sliced veg, maybe two handfuls of that one, and then a handful of…

I have to profess that I haven’t had much of a vegetable garden the last few years. Typically, just a few tomato plants and a couple of good produce stands that keep me supplied with garden-fresh veggies. Support your local economy, right?!

But since we’ve lived back here in western Washington state, the years when we have planted a garden it seems to be a difficult choice between putting in enough plants to have a meal or two if the summer is cool, OR putting in so many that, given a hot, bright summer, you are overrun with everything and your neighbors are, too.

When I found the original concept recipe for this salad, my intentions were to make it as it was written. Radishes, tomatoes, and cucumbers seem pretty typical for a juicy summer salad, but with a yogurt and tahini dressing instead of a vinegar-based one? Hmmmm! Intriguing!

Then, pretty typically, when I got around to making this salad there were no cucumbers, the cherry tomatoes from the produce stand had been waiting patiently just a couple days too long to be plump and picturesque, and I didn’t realize my hubby hadn’t found any tahini during last week’s shopping trip. (Yes, he does the shopping. It mostly works for us LOL)

After a couple minutes of thought and a good stare-down with the refrigerator contents, I charged ahead with a yellow patty pan squash and some celery as substitutes for the cucumber.

And then I made the dressing for the salad, pretty much straight from the original.

Let me tell you something. You will want to use this dressing on EVERY fresh vegetable you have.

Who knew Greek yogurt and peanut butter could sing such harmony together? Creamier than hummus, not as rich and fatty as a mayonnaise based dip/dressing, and with a couple unexpected but welcome notes of flavor — a descant of lemon? a counter-rhythm of garlic? a little fill from the cumin? — it turned out to be a really fun way to bring all the random garden veggies together into a side dish.

A really healthy side dish, in fact. Perfect for some people that need to keep their saturated fat intake down, boost their protein intake, and increase the amount of veggies eaten daily. All of which apply at my house.

Plus, I finally opened the Ground Sumac I purchased at Penzey’s last February in Arizona and used it as a sprinkle on top. This is one of the things about the original recipe that had caught my attention.

As advertised, we found it to taste “like lemon or vinegar only milder and less acidic.”

I’ll be using the ground sumac often, and not just on this vegetable salad. Ground Sumac is the new paprika at my house.

Here’s the recipe. Substitute what you need to, but I suggest you keep the radishes, the tomatoes, and THE DRESSING as is. Trust me.

“A Handful of This” Garden Vegetable Salad

  • 1 to 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 to 1 cup radishes, sliced (cut across into half circles if large) (you could substitute jicama, sliced similarly)
  • 1 to 2 cups of your choice of any summer squash (yellow or zucchini), cucumber, some celery, or other juicy medium texture vegetable, or a combination of them. Substitute freely!
  • optional sliced green onions
Dressing (enough for the salad and leftovers for dip)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter, tahini, or nut butter of your choice (I used peanut butter and loved the result)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional, but use it if you have it)
  • juice from half a fresh lemon — don’t worry about straining out the pulp
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed through a garlic press
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • ground sumac as garnish if available

If you are adding the dressing to the vegetables within half an hour of serving, you can skip the step of salting, rinsing, and draining the cucumber and/or squash. However, these will give off lots of liquid upon standing and make the salad look watery and the flavors diluted. Your choice.

Prepare the sliced vegetables as listed, keeping them to larger bite-size pieces.

Mix all dressing ingredients. Tip: slightly warm the nut butter/tahini to make it easier to incorporate with the yogurt.

Salt either the dressing or the vegetables to taste. Fold enough dressing into the vegetables just to coat them, gently so as to not smash the tomatoes. Garnish with ground sumac or paprika if desired. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator to use as you wish.


Note that in my photo, I have used more of the dressing than needed. Sure wish I had the extra to dip into tomorrow.

Always eat your veggies!



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