Summer’s First Salad

31 May

While this weekend was the “unofficial” start of summer, a few things have happened that have made me realize that I don’t need Memorial Day to tell me when summer officially, or otherwise, starts. One of my barometer’s is the first cold shower. Check. That was Monday. The second milestone is the day I change from hot coffee to iced coffee. Check. That was yesterday. The last, and most important sign that summer is here also occurred yesterday and that was the making of summer’s first chopped salad.

The chopped salad, at least in my mind, is a celebration of bounty. There’s no greens (aside from some members of the chicory family), everything is cut small, and everything is hyper, hyper-fresh. Now, I admit that almost nothing that went into my salad last night was either seasonal or, most likely, local, but it is the thought process that counts. It was hot yesterday. Muggy, overcast, the AC at work was barely cutting it. We had the windows open and my high-maintenance boss made us close them (he can’t concentrate when there’s noise around). It was a slow, lazy day and all I could think of was the symphony that is a summer salad.

I see people all the time on blogs asking for recipes for salads. Seriously? You need a recipe for a salad? Oy vey… What is the world coming to when a person can’t just cruise through the produce aisle and say, “That looks fresh. That looks yummy. Oh man, look at those BERRIES!” purchase them, take them home, cut them up, toss them in a bowl and drizzle some oil and vinegar over them and sit down and pig out? Yes, I guess I’m a salad snob, but, seriously, they’re like, the easiest things to make in the world.

Either way though, all food snobbery aside, I highly encourage anyone looking for a fresh, summery, tasty-as-hell salad to try this one and then, please, improvise on it, add your favorite this or you favorite that, change proportions, substitute vegetables and fruits with abandon, and please, let me know how it goes!

Head below the break for the “recipe” for Summer’s First Salad and some other ideas on how to customize your own summer salad.

Summer’s First Salad

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: NONE! how great is that?

  • 2 cloves Garlic, mashed, minced, smooshed into a paste, just make sure its small
  • 1/2 bunch Chives minced finely
  • 1 bunch Mint, cut into a chiffonade
  • Vinegar (your favorite flavor or variety, or a mixture)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Hot Pickled Peppers (your choice, I used some from the Basque region of Spain) cut as you like, small, big, etc.
  • 3 Endives, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pint Blueberries, washed
  • 1/2 English Cucumber, cut into cubes
  • 1 can Hearts Of Palm, washed and cut into wheels if they’re not already cut so
  • 1 can Chickpeas, washed
  • a handful of baby, grape or cocktail Tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on size
  • a handful of Dried Fruits (I had some lying around from Trader Joe’s that was a mix of cranberries, grapes, cherries and blueberries)

In a large bowl combine the garlic with the vinegar and olive oil to taste. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Mix. Add the peppers. Mix. Add the endive and blueberries and cucumber. Mix. Add the hearts of palm and chickpeas. Mix. Add the tomatoes. Mix. Add the dried fruit. Mix.

Taste the salad. Is it vinegary enough? Does it need salt? Maybe a touch of sugar to balance the acidity? Trust your tongue. Your tummy will thank you for it!

Other great things to consider for this salad:

Fresh shelled peas

Melons (especially icey cold watermelon)

Cheeses (feta is wonderful as are bocconcini)

Meats (maybe some salami!)

Capers

Olives

Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines et. al.)

Berries (black and rasp- perhaps?)

Avocado

Citrus

Mustard greens

Herbs (all of them, any of them, herbs are amazing!)

I think that’s a decent Cliff’s Notes version of summer chopped salad making. If you come up with some other great ideas, please let me know in the comments!

Enjoy!

4 Responses to “Summer’s First Salad”

  1. Julie June 2, 2006 at 7:32 am #

    It looks delicious and refreshing. Never even considered putting blueberries in a salad. Hhhmmm….

    I like the non-recipe-ness of this recipe. Lots of latitude.

  2. kalyn June 2, 2006 at 8:00 am #

    Oh, I love the sound of this. I’m crazy over hearts of palm. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I must say I do feel very lucky to have such a big fridge. It’s a Kenmore, and I love everything about it.

  3. Lucy Vanel June 3, 2006 at 2:59 am #

    I started chopped salads this week too! I didn’t realize it was a sign of summer but now that you’ve made me think about it, you’re right!

  4. lobstersquad June 5, 2006 at 8:31 am #

    Hi. Thanks for stopping by my blog, lobstersquad, and superthanks for linking it!
    I´m looking forward to the lots of salads that are arriving.

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