Summer will be exceptionally blissful this year as we ease into normalcy after the restrictions of the last 14 months. I don’t know about you, but much as I welcome some warmth from the sun and more hours of daylight, I do not particularly want to be shvitzing over a hot stove in the 90+ degree heat we’ve had these last few years.
Enter the summer salad. Rife with superstar produce like juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, crunchy green beans and crisp greens, it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be a first course, a side dish or an entree. Its components can be prepped ahead so assembly at mealtime can be quick and easy. It is a happy recipient of grilled proteins and vegetables leftover from your last barbeque. And even composed salads can require minimal if any cooking.
Bread salad, a watermelon salad with feta and mint, an heirloom tomato salad and a grappa-marinated peach and basil salad all promise no added heat in your kitchen. Some slicing, some dicing, a sprinkle of this, a drizzle of that and you’ve got a bowl full of bright colors and flavors.
What does minimal cooking mean? Boiling a pot of water or heating a skillet; not heating the oven and being done with the stovetop heat in 30 minutes or less. Making pasta for a salad with Israeli couscous or orzo. Hard-boiling eggs and sautéeing bacon for a spinach salad. Blanching beets, wax beans and haricots vert for a summer vegetable salad. Charring the components of a sausage, okra and corn salad in a skillet on the stove. Toasting pepitas for a kale salad with peaches (hint: Buy them already toasted and you won’t have to “cook” for this recipe either.)
We’ve all heard the expression “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” These salads allow you to do just that — and with some pretty delicious food in tow.