The New York Times Dining section this week featured a spread on 101 Summer Salads to help you beat the heat in the kitchen. And since I can't even fathom putting a pot of water on the stove to boil at this point in the season, these recipe ideas are fabulously received on my end. So before you sweat over a hot pot and think pasta, let's rethink the salad.
Cool, refreshing, endless seasonal possibilities, and a heck of a lot better for you than any other naughty ideas (take out, mac 'n cheese, yada, yada, yada) running through your head. And the best part? No waiting around time here. Chop things up, throw 'em in a bowl, give it a gentle toss and you're ready to munch.
A couple of stand-outs?
12. Combine sliced fennel and prune plums; serve with vinaigrette spiked with minced ginger. Nice pairing.
13. A red salad: Combine tomato wedges with halved strawberries, basil leaves, shaved Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.
14. A classic Moroccan thing: Thinly slice carrots, or grate or shred them (the food processor makes quick work of this). Toss with toasted cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro. Raisins are good in here, too. There is no better use of raw carrots.
16. Slice fennel and crisp apple about the same thickness (your choice). Combine, then dress with mustardy vinaigrette and chopped parsley. Come fall, this will be even better.
26. Combine mushroom caps and thinly sliced red onions with olive oil; broil gently until tender and browned. Toss with a lot of chopped fresh parsley or basil (or both) and a simple vinaigrette. Some chopped escarole, arugula or watercress is good, too.
31. Roast beets whole (or buy them precooked), then slice or cube and toss with a little chopped garlic (or a lot of roasted garlic), toasted walnuts, orange juice and olive oil.
38. Cube watermelon; combine with roughly chopped mint, crumbled feta, sliced red onion and chopped Kalamata olives. Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Despite saltiness of feta and olives, this may need salt.
43. Grate raw beets (use the food processor to avoid ruining everything within spattering distance) and toss with watercress or arugula. Top with sherry vinaigrette and a little goat cheese. Especially obvious, perhaps, but also especially popular.
44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.
54. Slice roasted red peppers (if you must use canned, try to find piquillos) and fresh mozzarella. Toss with cooked white beans, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a chopped shallot and fresh rosemary or parsley.
55. Mix watercress with chopped smoked salmon, avocado, red onion and capers. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar and mustard powder.
69. Stir-fry small or chopped shrimp in olive or peanut oil with lots of ginger; while still warm, combine with tomato wedges, chopped romaine, cilantro, scallions and lots of lime juice. Good in pita.
81. Soak sliced prune plums or figs in balsamic vinegar for a few minutes, then add olive oil, chopped celery and red onion, shreds of roasted or grilled chicken, chopped fresh marjoram or oregano and chopped almonds. Serve on top of or toss with greens. So good.