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.)
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.