Baguio Vegetable Salad
February marks the celebration of the Panagbenga Festival in the City of Baguio in the Philippines. Panagbenga is a local term that means “to blossom.” While it is a tribute to the abundance of flowers in this summer resort city, the festival was first conceived in 1995 as a testament to Baguio’s resiliency and its dramatic recovery after the devastating 1990 earthquake that leveled many buildings and structures and caused extensive loss of lives and injury. The festival features arts and cultural competitions, culminating in a major street parade showcasing ingenious floral floats (much like the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California) and imaginative costume designs reminiscent of Mardi Gras.
Baguio and the neighboring La Trinidad Valley also hold the distinction as the “salad bowl” of the Philippines. Both the farms and the Baguio City Market are constantly teeming with fruit and vegetable varieties seldom seen in markets elsewhere.
This is a simple salad recipe consisting of fresh carrots and the famous Baguio beans (long green beans). But one can be as creative as the costume designers of the Panagbenga festival by adding any number of other vegetables and ingredients. For my part, I added fresh turnips to the salad, along with a topping of walnuts and raisins.
2 cups green beans sliced into diagonal pieces, blanched
2 cups fresh carrots, shredded
1 cup fresh turnips, thinly sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsps rice vinegar
1/2 cup red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine vinegar, onions, sugar and olive oil. Mix well and let stand for a few minutes. Add carrots, beans and turnips. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss.If desired, refrigerate before serving. Serve on a salad plate and top with walnuts and raisins.