It’s so easy to get spoiled during the summer, as produce is plentiful, and needs little help from us to shine. This salad is a perfect example. Ripe, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and vibrant fresh-picked mint from the garden come together for a simple, but incredibly satisfying no-cook side dish.
As we often say when talking about Dress It Up Dressing, ingredients this good shouldn’t be disguised—dressing should enhance them, highlighting their innate deliciousness. All this trio of cucumbers, tomatoes, and mint needs is a bit of our Red Wine Vinaigrette, a grating of fresh lemon zest, and some salt to make your taste buds go “whoa”. That was my reaction when I first made. I truly wasn’t expecting such a humble salad to stop me in my tracks, and yet it did. Even with all my decades spent in the kitchen (I started young!), there are still plenty of surprises yet to be discovered.
Here’s the recipe.
It’s easy to take the garden for granted when it’s showing off in the summer, especially my sage which has more gusto this year than any sage plant I’ve ever owned. My weekly weeding sessions keep the herbs in tip top shape, and yield more trimmings than I can manage to use. This is where a little foresight comes in handy.
In a few short months, we’ll be wearing overcoats again, and our gardens will be memories of another summer in the books. It’s possible to keep some mementos, though, ones you can put to good use in soups, stews, and the like. I know crazy to think about those meals when all we want to do is fire up the grill, and eat lots of juicy, ripe, fresh picked tomatoes.
Read more here to see how to dry your own fresh herbs.
It’s peak season at the farm stand right now. I feel like a kid in a candy shop with every visit. While nothing seems to beat a grilled ear of fresh corn, using the kernels raw in a salad is a close contender. I’ve been addicted to this combination lately.
The arugula has a spicy bite that plays so nicely with sweetness of the peaches and corn. The corn also adds a nice crunch, which leaves me feeling quite content. Sesame seeds are my go-to garnish on salads for no other reason than my unapologetic love for them—there’s always a jar within arm’s reach on the counter. Pistachios would be amazing here, too, and might’ve been my first choice had some been in the pantry.
Full disclosure, this salad serves two if you’re good at sharing (ahem), otherwise you might want to double on it. Now, enough talk, let’s get to the recipe.
Watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit. A thick, cold slice on a hot day is the perfect antidote. This year we’re bumping watermelon up from dessert, and serving it as an appetizer—on a stick! Best part? These are great when entertaining—no utensils or dishes needed. They’re so easy to prepare, you can even enlist the kids for some help in the kitchen.
Our Blackberry Vinaigrette adds some acidity to balance the cool sweetness of the watermelon, while the feta cheese adds a salty kick. You can prep the skewers a day in advance. Just wait until you’re ready to serve them to add the cheese, mint, and dressing. The recipe we’re sharing is more a suggestion than a hard set of rules. You’ll notice we don’t even list specific ingredient amounts. Make as many, or as few as you want, and use mini skewers or standard size ones—all depends on the occasion at which you’re serving them.
Here’s how to make them in your own kitchen.
Caprese salad, a classic Italian combination of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil seems like a no brainer salad, right? That’s true, mostly, especially this time of year when farmers’ markets are filled with ripe, sun-kissed tomatoes. A little thought, though, and you can up your caprese game big time. I discovered a few new-to-me tricks this summer that elevate it from a humble combination to a star-worthy salad.
First off, let’s talk about the basil. I used to cut larger leaves into ribbons. This year I decided to swap in smaller ones. They have a sweeter flavor, and less peppery bite than more mature leaves. You can even use some of the flowers that bud when your plant is telling you it’s time for a trim—they make for a beautiful garnish.
While thick, juicy slices of beefsteak tomatoes are wonderful, quartered grape tomatoes, or simply chopping up those beefsteaks is a fun approach. The same goes for your mozzarella—diced it, or use smaller bocconcini, and cut them into halves or quarters. Your caprese now becomes a chopped salad, of sorts, providing a perfect ratio of tomato, cheese, and basil with every bite. A sprinkling of good quality salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon salt flakes, and little bit of our Red Wine Vinaigrette pulls it all together for an easy, yet sophisticated, salad.