It’s Labor Day and I’m not laboring.
Take advantage of some great tomatoes and try this summery salad from an earlier post.
Sometimes, looking at the availability of good ingredients, you wonder about the timing of cookbooks. The Accidental Locavore tried to get a reviewer’s copy of the upcoming Plenty More (due out in October) and was turned down.
Luckily, Bon Appetit ran a few recipes from the book and this tomato salad caught my eye. I roasted the lemons ahead of time (on a cool evening), so they were ready to go and this came together quickly:
- 1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pound mixed cherry tomatoes, or small heirlooms quartered
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large
Preheat oven to 325°. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.
Toss lemon slices with sage, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are dry and starting to brown about 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk pomegranate molasses, allspice, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add lemons, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and mint. Toss gently; season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A great change from tomatoes and mozzarella, it’s light and refreshing, with a nice tang from the lemons and pomegranate molasses and it might be the easiest salad dressing on the planet! My pomegranate molasses will be getting a lot more use from now on – it was great with the tomatoes and mint. I also really liked the roasted lemon slices and saved some to toss in with my usual lunch salad. Next time, I’ll roast a couple of lemons at the same time and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for future use – they’d be good with a chicken too. Mint would also go well if you didn’t have any sage. My husband thought the lemon slices would be better cut in half, but I liked them as is.
And I’d still love to see a reviewer’s copy of the book…
Potato salad is a summer staple.
As good as potato salad is, the Accidental Locavore is not a huge fan of potato salad with either mayo or hard-boiled eggs. When I saw this from the NY Times, it looked like a nice change from my go-to French potato salad. Serves 4:
Potato Salad With Lemon and Mint Recipe
- 2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
- Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
- ¼ cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, more for serving
Cut the potatoes in half, or quarters if they’re large. Put potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1”. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper. Let cool to room temperature. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and Aleppo pepper.
My verdict: Easy and good! Will they take the place of the French potato salad? Probably not, but how can you compete with bacon (and bacon fat)???
If you don’t have Aleppo, or ¼ teaspoon of some exotic pepper (because it’s soooo worth it to go out for 1/4 teaspoon of anything), just use freshly ground black pepper.
Other herbs to consider would have to include sage, rosemary and tarragon – essentially anything fresh.
I always cut the potatoes before boiling. It saves time, both in cooking and in waiting for them to cool enough to cut. However, you must start the potatoes in cool water. Otherwise they’ll never cook evenly all the way through and especially with potato salad, you don’t want them mushy on the outside.
What’s your favorite potato salad?
Faced with a pile of summer squash and fennel and requested to bring a salad to a recent party, the Accidental Locavore went trolling through a pile of cookbooks, hoping to find all the squash and/or fennel recipes that might have been saved for warmer months.
In Ottolenghi’s Plenty More there was a recipe for courgette (not to brag, but I have a signed British copy) and fennel with saffron crumbs.
Being lazy, this was more of a riff on the original. Serves 4.
Grilled Summer Squash and Fennel Salad
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your grill (or grill pan, if apartment bound) on high heat.
In a medium pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the garlic and breadcrumbs. Fry for about a minute until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
In a large bowl, toss the summer squash and fennel with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grill until both sides are nicely charred, about 6 minutes a side for the fennel, less for the squash.
Put the summer squash and fennel back in the large bowl. Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss gently. Let marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
Plate the vegetables on a large platter, sprinkle with the dill. Top with the breadcrumbs, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Not really my verdict this time…even though I doubled the recipe, I should have made more. It disappeared quickly at the party and one of my friends confided that she’d had three helpings!
Because it needed to travel, I grilled the fennel and squash (a mix of summer squash and zucchini) separately and marinated them overnight. Put it together with the dill and breadcrumbs at the party. If you’re off to a pot-luck or picnic, this is a perfect dish to make. It travels well and doesn’t need to be hot or cold – all good in the summer.
I cut all the squash lengthwise and then in half because it seemed to be easier to deal with at a buffet. Slicing and grilling some Japanese eggplant I had crossed my mind, but then I decided to keep it simple.
From what (little) I ate, it could have used a little more dill and breadcrumbs, but still a big hit!
What do you do with cucumbers?
Like zucchini, cucumbers are a CSA staple.
However, there seem to be a lot fewer things to do with cucumbers.
Toss them in salads.
- About 2 pounds thin-skinned cucumbers like English or Persian (8 to 10 mini cucumbers, 4 medium-size or 2 large greenhouse), washed and patted dry.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cucumbers
- 2 teaspoons sugar, plus more for cucumbers
- 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Small handful whole cilantro leaves, for garnish
- 2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
To make the smashed cucumber salad:
Cut the cucumbers crosswise into pieces about 4” long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
On a work surface, place a piece of cucumber (or several) cut side down. Lay the blade of a large knife flat on top of the cucumber and smash down lightly with your other hand. The skin will begin to crack, the flesh will break down and the seeds will separate. Repeat until all the cucumbers are smashed. Break or slice diagonally into bite-size pieces, leaving the seeds behind.
Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer and toss with a big pinch of salt and a big pinch of sugar. Place a Ziploc bag filled with ice on top of the cucumbers to serve as a weight and place the strainer over a bowl. Let drain 15 to 30 minutes on the counter, or in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in sesame oil and soy sauce.
When ready to serve, shake cucumbers well to drain off any remaining liquid and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Add half the dressing, half the garlic and the red pepper flakes to taste, and toss. Keep adding dressing until cucumbers are well coated but not drowned. Taste and add more pepper flakes and garlic if needed. Serve garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds and enjoy!
My verdict: Who wouldn’t have fun smashing cucumbers for a salad? Until you find that there are cucumber seeds all over the kitchen (and the dog won’t have anything to do with them).
This was really good and a perfect summer side dish. If you don’t have thin-skinned cucumbers, cut the smashed pieces into small bits. After tasting it a few times, I just tossed all the garlic (only one large clove) and dressing into the salad. Just go easy with the red pepper flakes, until you find a good balance.
Next time I make this, I might smash some Sichuan peppercorns in place of the red pepper flakes and bash the cucumbers in the sink (since I hate cleaning floors). Even toasted, the sesame seeds got lost in the salad, but the cilantro was a nice touch.
Do you think this is something you’d try?
I hate gritty produce.
At the CSA pick-up recently, one of the things Frank brought home was a beautiful head of escarole. It’s something I always like, both cooked and raw, but tend to avoid because it needs careful washing and sometimes I’m just not in the mood (you know what I mean?).
- ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 6 cups torn escarole (from about 2 heads)
- 2 tablespoons rinsed capers
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup shaved peeled horseradish (or prepared horseradish)
Soak onion in a small bowl of ice water at least 30 minutes (you can do this while the escarole is soaking). Drain and pat dry.
Whisk crème fraîche, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar in a large bowl. Add escarole, capers, and drained onion; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Top salad with horseradish and season with more pepper, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: This escarole salad was made for dinner with friends. Because there wasn’t a scrap left, it proved to be a big hit. Super simple and really delicious! While the summer may be peak time for escarole, it’s not for fresh horseradish, which becomes a small problem. Imagine how much better this could be with the punch you’d get from fresh (or fresher than what I had) horseradish!
Instead of soaking the onions (which I do a lot these days with raw onions) I had made some pickled red onions and used those instead.
The dressing I made separately so I could do it ahead of time. Check it for taste, remembering that it’s going on bitter greens so you might want to add a bit more crème fraîche and adjust the horseradish accordingly.
It’s a great dressing and would work well on a lot of different greens. Grilled radicchio anyone?
Start your summer grilling off in a great way! This is an easy Caesar salad, made better by a few minutes on the grill and has become part of the Accidental Locavore’s summer repertoire. This is really easy and if you want to make it even easier, you can use your favorite bottled dressing (but don’t, the dressing is easy and super-delicious!). This started out from a recipe in the NY Times, but then I skipped half the steps…
- 3 anchovies
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 1 egg yolk (I used a jumbo egg, if you have smaller ones, you might want 2)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil (use a good quality oil)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 head romaine lettuce, quartered the long way and gently washed
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Light the grill.
In the work bowl of a small food processor (I use a Cuisinart mini-chopper) put the mustard, egg yolk, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Process until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of the oil and process until well combined. Add the rest of the oil, again processing until smooth. You want it to be the consistency of a thin mayonnaise. Taste and add salt and pepper and more oil if necessary.
With a pastry brush, brush the romaine quarters with the dressing on all sides, making sure to get it between the leaves. Lightly grill the lettuce on all sides, about 15 seconds on the back (leaf side) and 20-25 seconds on each side, until it starts to brown. Brush with the remaining dressing, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, cover and grill for about 30 seconds until the cheese has started to melt (you want to cook the leafy side (the back) a little less than the sides, so that when you put the cheese on to melt you’re not burning it). Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: this was a surprising hit! Recently, there have been lots of recipes for grilling salad, but I was a little skeptical…who needs to cook lettuce, when it’s so good cold and crispy? We made this for friends for dinner and it was so good, we went back out, bought more romaine and made it the next day for lunch. There is something so good about the warm, almost charred outsides and the cool, crispy interior. Definitely worth a try! Surprisingly, for someone who doesn’t like anchovies, I usually find myself adding more to the dressing. You could toss on some croutons, but you probably won’t miss them. Also, now that we make this a lot, we generally just sprinkle the Parmesan on top when we serve it.
The Accidental Locavore came across this new idea for the classic iceburg wedge. This wedge is cabbage and it’s sweet and delicious, roasted or grilled. Make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate for up to a week, if you like. Serves 4:
- ½ cup (about 3.5 oz) crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
- Salt and pepper
- 6 to 8 thin slices pastrami (2 to 3 oz.)
- 1 small head (2 to 3 lb.) green cabbage, outer leaves removed
- 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
- Salt and pepper
- 8 to 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, mash the blue cheese with a fork. Add the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, buttermilk, lemon juice, Sriracha, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Make the salad: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Lay the pastrami flat on a small foil-lined baking sheet and roast until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel, cool, then crumble into about 1” pieces.
Cut the cabbage into 4 wedges through the root end, leaving some of the core intact on each piece so the wedges don’t fall apart. On a large foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, coat the cabbage wedges with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the wedges on a flat side and roast until browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. (Don’t worry if the outer leaves begin to burn.) Flip each wedge and continue roasting until the second side is browned as well, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Spread about a tablespoon of the blue cheese dressing on each of four serving plates. Place a cabbage wedge on top and drizzle with more of the remaining dressing. Scatter the pastrami, tomatoes and chives over the wedges and garnish with the tomatoes. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: I probably came late to the table on roasting/grilling leafy greens, and am trying to make up for lost time. I did roast the cabbage in the oven, and then stuck it on the grill to give it a little more flavor. It was delicious – the cabbage was a little warm and sweet from the roasting. It’s a good blue cheese dressing and if you want to spice it up more, just add some more Sriracha. The pastrami was good mixed with the dressing because of the spices coating it, but bacon would be a fine substitute. If you were short on buttermilk, some plain yogurt or sour cream would work, just taste it before adding too much. Give it a try and let me know what you think, ok?
The Accidental Locavore first saw this salad being made years ago on Martha Stewart. The film producer Ismail Merchant was showing Martha how to put it together. What made it particularly memorable was watching Martha struggling to control herself as Ismail was literally pouring on the cayenne. In her recipe, his quarter cup got cut down to a quarter teaspoon. Either way, it’s a great use for a box of cherry tomatoes – good now and better in August! Serves 4:
- 30 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 12 small tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 Serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix the parsley and chile pepper with the tomatoes. Let sit for twenty minutes. Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, mustard, olive oil and salt together in a small bowl. Dress the tomatoes, toss, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: I’ve made this salad a few times – it’s great when you have a plethora of cherry tomatoes. Frank thought this batch had a little too much mustard (and although it pains me to say so, he was probably right). Even if your tomatoes aren’t wonderful, the spice and lemon make up for less than stellar fruit. I recently served it with my favorite Indian chicken, as we were a little shy on vegetables that evening and I had a couple of boxes of cherry tomatoes. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, go easy on the Serrano and cayenne and add as much or as little as you’d like. Cilantro is a nice addition or replacement for the parsley and if you don’t have a freezer full of chilies (like I do), just add more cayenne.
Now that we’re finally moving into warmer weather, the Accidental Locavore was idly looking for main-course salad ideas, just in case we should get bored by salad Niçoise. I saw this on Smitten Kitchen and it looked interesting. Having some iceberg lettuce on hand added impetus. I made the whole amount of dressing (which she says feeds 6), but scaled down everything else as I was just feeding myself. This is quick and none of the ingredients need cooking.
- 4 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano (preferably Sicilian, if you can find it)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil (use the good stuff here)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin rings
- 1/2 pound provolone, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
- 1/2 pound salami, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
- 4 pickled pepperoncini, sliced into rings
- 3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, in ½” pieces
- ½ cup pitted olives
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, halved, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch ribbons
- 1 head radicchio, halved, cored and cut in 1/4-inch ribbons
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano for garnish (optional)
Make the dressing: In a small bowl or jar mix the garlic, oregano, salt and ground pepper together to make a rough paste. Add the lemon juice, vinegar and mustard, if using. Mix with a fork. allowing the salt to dissolve, then add the oil and whisk with a fork until well combined. The dressing should be thick with garlic and oregano
Assemble the salad: Using the iceberg and radicchio as a base, top with the chickpeas, onions, provolone, salami, pepperoncini, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives. Top with the dressing and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste, add the dried oregano as a garnish, serve and enjoy.
My verdict: I made it as a composed salad and just dressed the lettuce, but that was mostly so it would photograph well. The dressing had way too much garlic and too much salt, so the next time I would probably cut the garlic down to two average-sized cloves and add more if needed. This was a good base salad to play with. Since I was home alone, the red onions were left out (and considering the excess of garlic, that was a smart move) and replaced with marinated artichoke hearts and olives, both of which were great. Also left out, the radicchio, since there wasn’t any in the house. Because I didn’t toss it all together, in the first few bites I got a lot of pepperoncini and found it gave everything a vaguely unpleasant taste.
The next day, I made a travel version for the train and added about another tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and oregano to the leftover dressing. The salt was fine and the garlic, while strong, was under control. We’ve got lots of odds and ends of various salamis, which could easily get sliced up for this. So use this as a guide to building your own incredible salad.
One of the Accidental Locavore’s favorite salads, not easily found outside of France, is celery root remoulade. It may be that it’s a little difficult to find celery root and it’s definitely not going to rank high in the lists of attractive vegetables (which may be why it’s not easy to find – we like attractive, perfect produce), so when my CSA had celery root last week I snatched it up! Here’s how I made my remoulade. (Make the dressing first as the celery root will tend to discolor.)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 knobs of celery root, peeled and grated (see below for peeling and grating ideas)
My verdict: So good, took me right back to Paris! I used the grater disk on my food processor to grate the celery root, but you could use a grater or mandoline. To peel the root, cut off the top and bottom and peel the sides with a very sharp peeler (something I don’t own) or a paring knife. I remember the celeriac remoulade in France having capers, so I tossed some in, that’s up to you. And as always, homemade mayo is easy and makes the dish. If anyone has a recommendation for a really good vegetable peeler, please let me know. I have a drawerful of crappy ones.