It’s predicted to be a wicked scorchah here today, at least as hot as it ever gets on the coast, and weather like this gives us permission to find a new kind of simplicity and creativity. Like, for example the cold cereal with milk and bananas I gave the boys for lunch yesterday. Which they thought was just HILARIOUS.
For me, I like to find the fewest possible ingredients I can put together and still call dinner. It seems like we’re entitled when it is this hot, and since you’d never eat like this on a crisp October day or a snowy January evening, I say celebrate the season.
I enjoy an excellent Watermelon Gazpacho each year at my village fair’s unrivaled “soup kitchen” (More than 25 types of hot and cold soups served for lunch in the gardens of a stately historic house. They are mostly all sold out by noon. Locals? Come early!) and I was looking for something along those lines—cool, crunchy and savory and sweet at the same time. (My guest blogger Laura from Cult of Domesticity shared a good sweet one, plus an excellent corn salad in her post for me earlier this month.)
I found this recipe in the June 2008 Bon Appetit, and while the reviews suggest things can get ugly quick when it gets watery, I was heartened when I spotted the same recipe tested at the always delicious Smitten Kitchen, and Deb made no mention of excessive watery-ness.
Chopped Vegetable Salad with Watermelon and Feta
Bon Appetit, June 2008
Makes 4 servings
1 pound Campari or plum tomatoes, diced, drained
1 1/2 cups diced seeded watermelon
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 large English hothouse cucumber, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 cup very thinly sliced radishes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 ounces feta cheese, broken into small cubes (about 2 1/2 cups), divided
2 green onions, chopped, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, divided
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Toss first 5 ingredients and 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Add half each of cheese, green onions, and mint. Mix remaining cheese, green onions, mint, and oil in processor; add yogurt and oregano. Process just to blend (do not over-mix or dressing will get thin). Season dressing with salt and pepper; mix into salad.
But since that is completely untried, I feel it is only fair to give you something I HAVE made and can recommend. Since this is a completely made-up recipe based on something I spotted in the Whole Foods prepared foods section (when it was still Bread & Circus, that’s how long ago it was), I can only give you faint suggestions for quantity. Work with me, it all comes out fine in the end. I’m sure there are a zillion versions of this on epicurious.com and elsewhere if you are more precise than I.
Uh, let’s call it…
Black Bean, Pepper and Corn Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing
1 medium or half of a large Bermuda (the purple ones), minced
A couple of bell peppers, diced (go for color here. I recommend green and red, or green and orange)
About 4 cups corn kernels orn, can be from the cob or the bag. Grilled is nice, but I rarely make that much effort.
2-3 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained. (Add 2, then mix and review your ratios. Add more if you like.)
Whisk together about 1/4 cup fruity green olive oil, the juice of one lime, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon cumin, a dash of cayenne pepper and about a 1/4 of finely minced fresh cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over chopped vegetables in a bowl. Adjust ingredients of dressing to taste, and add more as needed. Mix well. (Should just make a light film on the beans and vegetables.)
Note: Much like the Texas Caviar salad versions, also another good cold summer salad, this can be bulked up with 2-3 cups of cooked grains: rice, orzo pasta, quinoa, you name. it. Chill and serve cold with lime wedges on the side and a sprig of cilantro on top.
Okay readers, I can’t wait to see what YOU’VE got for summer salads on this historic Food Friday, the first to include readers. Leave a link to your blog, or a website with one of your favorite summer salads or just add the whole recipe in the comments. Because we’ve got plenty more of these hot summer days left.
Next Friday? Keeping cool with frozen treats! Tell me what you do, or would love to try making with ice cream, sherbet, sorbet or ices this summer. Need inspiration? Check out the July issue of Martha Stewart living, and this search on epicurious. Mmmmmm….