This is the ultimate summer salad, and it's perfect for entertaining. Not only is it festive and colorful, but you can make it ahead of time—in fact, you should, because it gets better and better the longer it sits.
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Think of this as a much, much improved version of that bottled Italian dressing sitting in your fridge door.
This time of year the vegetable bin can be a little sparse, but it seems there are always carrots. In this salad they're coarsely grated in a food processor and tossed with fresh mint, currants and a lightly sweetened lemon vinaigrette. It's a bright, refreshing salad, delicious on its own with a warm buttered baguette or as a side to simple roast chicken.
Adapted freely from Chef Ryan Scott...
The funny thing is, now I love summer squash, although it's one of the few things in the world I don't like with butter. I've been eating it quite often this summer, grilled in salads. If only I'd known back then what I know now. If only I'd known how to appreciate all that summer squash.
I recently found out that Bartlett pears are coming into season, even though pears are often thought of as a winter fruit. I enjoyed having this pear salad with string beans, honey-roasted pecans, white (rather than my usual red) balsamic vinegar and a dash of black pepper. It's light enough that I can dare to have a bit of chocolate cake after with vanilla frosting.
I'm not as fond of boiled vegetables as my Irish ancestors, but I do like making "health salad"—a form of "kosher" coleslaw. What could be a more fitting tribute to the heritage of my great-grandparents than a deli salad made with cabbage? Health salad is often served at delis because the cabbage is marinated in oil and vinegar, which means it can be eaten with meat according to the Jewish dietary laws that prohibit mixing meat and dairy. This recipe is adapted from a New Jersey diner.
My mother claimed to have no interest in food. She said she'd be happy just swallowing a nutrition pill to survive. But her passion for beef belied her hatred of all things food. When my father was away—which was often—we'd frequent a place called Mr. Steak for lunch. To this day, I love all restaurants with the name "Mister" in the title.
Learning the intricacies of another culture's cuisine can be as daunting as learning a foreign language. I am definitely more of an eater than a cook when it comes to Indian food! But I still keep a jar of curry powder in my house: I love to throw together a quick salad of yogurt, vegan chicken, and cashews sprinkled with the spice blend to remind me of how I was lured out of my food comfort zone of processed chicken nuggets and ice cream sandwiches.
I hate to consign a classic to the compost heap of history. I'm giving the Waldorf another try. First of all, I'm nixing the mayo. For a vegetarian version, use Fage Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice. It's healthier and higher in protein, and tastes better.
It only seems fair I take up the challenge to show them that Thanksgiving can be vegetarian—and pay tribute to my fellow foodies, who dream of basting turkeys while they baste themselves in the sun—in July. And yes, for those who eat meat, you can easily substitute real turkey for my vegetarian option. Thanksgiving, in July or November, means something for everyone.
Even people who never quite made it through the Odyssey in grade school swear they know what a Greek salad looks like. Spinach, hunks of onion, kalamata olives, haphazardly cut tomatoes, and of course, the ubiquitous chunks of feta. Go to Greece, and you will receive something different when you order a salad in a restaurant.
For a full confession, my first faux Asian salad came from McDonalds. One of McDonald's first "healthy" campaigns designed to improve its image. Ah, the 1980s. The era of the guilt-free McNugget. But I was hooked on the faux Asian flavor combination as well. I have a nut consumption issue (or rather, a hard time stopping myself from nut-inhaling) and eating nuts on a salad (as opposed to from the jar) is a great way to slow myself down and have a more balanced dinner than bonding with Mr. Peanut one-on-one.
[Photograph: Mary Pagones]...