Summer Salads

I’m not much on labor-intensive salads, unless it can also do double-duty as a main dish with the addition of a protein.

Salads are usually on the side for me, and usually eaten after my main course. That evolved because I tended to eat the main course (i.e. protein) first, then I’d look at that bowl of greens on the side and tell myself, “You have to eat it.” Surprisingly, once I have that first bite, the salad usually disappears quickly, the vinaigrette easily reviving my taste buds, so now I just plan it that way.

Each summer seems to have a favorite salad, one year it was the watermelon-cucumber-arugula-feta combo. (A bit of a cheat with the sweet fruit in it, I know.) This year it’s been what I call the “threesome salad” of tomato, cuke, and corn.

I microwave a couple ears of corn in the husks after trimming the top and bottom. Before I put them in the microwave, I run cold water over them (including into a cut end) and wrap them loosely in a dampened paper towel. A couple minutes on high, and a couple minutes to cool and I can shuck them easily. If I want to eat it hot, I roll an ear in my glass corn dish with a little butter and salt and pepper and my favorite yellow corn picks, like the ones pictured here, from Amazon. (Don’t bother with any that have short prongs; otherwise I might order these cute piggy ones.)

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To use the corn in other ways, I cut the kernels from the ears, holding each ear horizontally or vertically, I go back and forth on that. Then I toss the kernels with my tomatoes and cucumber and add whatever vinaigrette I have on hand. (I make my own, varying the types of oil and vinegar, but olive oil is always at least part of it, as is, usually, garlic and just a little Dijon to help it emulsify.)

Other salads consist of just greens and a few glazed nuts and dried cranberries (and maybe bleu cheese, see below). I like a white balsamic vinaigrette for that. Or I might arrange the greens alongside The Canal House’s marinated zucchini or whatever other roasted vegetables I have around, for instance the baby eggplants I roasted yesterday. Or I might add simply steamed green beans, cut up avocado or even a little leftover potato salad.

If the rest of the meal isn’t too rich, I might also add cheese to a green salad, crumbled bleu or Gorgonzola and feta are my top choices. I also like a little cheese (and red wine vinegar dressing) on Italian marinated vegetables like green beans or asparagus.

Here’s a gallery of some of the salads I’ve served myself over the summer, plus photos of roasted mini-Marzano tomatoes, zucchini, and those baby eggplants.

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8 thoughts on “Summer Salads

  1. Oh, Faith, I do love salads and simply want to drool even at your photos and descriptions so beautifully presented. You reminded me of variations I could add so I will find new tastes. In my home, especially in summer, we always had salads with protein, usually fish ; so my mother made the dressings from garlic, olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Eggplants were beautifully roasted. (Blame it on my Romanian heritage.) If my brother and I ever rebelled, we were told, “its healthy!” I became a veggie lover all my life and he, my brother, a junk food follower. Who knew?

    • My mother had a thing for fish right next to salad, she loved the way the combined juices mixed. It was about the only time she put green salad on the plate rather than in a bowl.

  2. I love salads and consider myself an “accomplished” salad maker, but the variety of your salads is truly impressive. Of course, this time of year, my salads get REALLY simple—tomatoes, basil, olive oil and some really good bread to mop it all up!

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