This beautiful salad is a great way to add a burst of color and fresh, healthy vegetables to your table.
I realize that everyone pretty much feels like summer ends after Labor Day but it does not officially end until the Autumnal Equinox ushers in fall on September 23. So there! We still have over a month of summer left and I’m hanging on to every last gorgeous minute of it. And, I’m making Marinated Vegetable Salad, firing up the BBQ, and eating outside. Amen.
A good, old-fashioned Marinated Vegetable Salad is a classic dish that will never go out of style. There are many variations out there and I thought before summer came to an end, I’d share mine with you all.
This is not strictly a summer recipe but I do love to add a fresh dish like this to a summer menu. Especially when you’re serving burgers, steaks, or any grilled meats. It is the perfect complement to those dishes and just perks up the whole situation with beautiful color and fresh taste.
Some of the veggies we are including here, namely the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, should be quickly blanched so they will have the perfect crisp but slightly tender bite that we want for this salad.
How to Blanch Vegetables
So, before we head into the recipe, here is a quick lesson on blanching vegetables.
Place about 3 cups of broccoli florets and 2 cups of cauliflower florets into a pot of boiling water and allow to boil for a maxiumum of 2 to 3 minutes. We are not cooking them through, we just want to soften them oh-so-slightly so that they are mostly crisp and only slightly tender. You want to be very careful to not let them cook too long. Err on the side of undercooking or you might end up with mushy veggies which is just plain yucky. They’ll soften a bit more as they marinate so be vigilant.
A pasta pot with a colander insert like mine above is a great convenience when blanching vegetables. I’ve had this pot for…get ready for it…31 years! It was a gift from my sweet mother-in-law at my bridal shower and I had no idea it would become one of my most loved and well-used kitchen items.
If you are in the market for one, here are a few good choices that are available on Amazon:
Pull the veggies out of the boiling water, drain quickly, and then immediately transfer them to a large bowl filled with ice water. This will shock them (burr!), stopping the cooking process and locking in their bright, vibrant color.
Once they are totally chilled, transfer to a colander and drain them well.
Repeat the process with the carrots, cooking till “crisp-barely-tender”. After shocking them in the ice water bath, add them to the colander to drain with the broccoli and cauliflower.
Time to mix up the homemade Italian dressing. It consists of olive oil, white wine vinegar, a touch of sugar, garlic, some Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Shake it all together in a mason jar or other small container with a tight lid. You can make the dressing ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until ready to use, if you’d like.
The blanched broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots join some chopped celery, sliced onion, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, and chopped red bell pepper in a large mixing bowl. You can add or substitute any veggies that make you smile.
Toss the veggies with the dressing.
Time to cover the bowl and transfer it to the refrigerator to chill and marinate for at least two hours or more. The veggies will soften a tad more as they marinate and all the flavors will intensify and very, very good things will happen.
Just before serving, stir in about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. This is one gorgeous addition to your table.
Marinated Vegetable Salad
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced into 1/4" rounds
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced sweet yellow onion
- 1 heaping cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 8 ounce package mushrooms, quartered
- 1/4 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar or small container with a lid and shake well. Refrigerate while you prepare the salad.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl about halfway with water and then fill with ice.
- Place broccoli and cauliflower into the pot of vigorously boiling water and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Quickly drain and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Once vegetables are completely chilled, transfer to a colander to drain well. Pour off some of the water from bowl and replace with fresh ice. Repeat process with carrots, cooking about 3 minutes.
- Combine all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in Parmesan cheese.
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