Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Green dinners

It was HOT in Bermtopia this weekend. The kind of hot that makes cooking of any kind seem completely unpleasant and unnecessary. The thought of warm food was straight up unappetizing, and the idea of actually preparing it seemed downright torturous.

So, of course, my thoughts naturally turned to salads, but salads with some heft. Dinner salads.

It occurred to me this might be a good little project for the remainder of the summer: Researching and experimenting with delicious dinner salads – dredging up some old familiar favorites, testing out some new (maybe even edgy!) recipes and, maybe, just maybe, inventing one or two of my own.

What could be better? A cool and refreshing alternative to cooking. Easy on the waistline (theoretically). And perfectly, wonderfully seasonal.

I launched my project last night. Smack dab in the middle of a fast-moving cold front punctuated by 45-mile-an-hour winds. Timing has never been one of my strong suits.

The salads kept blowing off our plates.

But despite this one little inconvenience, the launch of The Great Summer Salad Project was a resounding success. I give you. . . my all-time favorite, Salade Nicoise (adapted from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, "Salads.")

Chopped romaine
Hard-boiled eggs
Cooked, peeled and sliced Yukon Gold potato
Sliced Roma tomatoes
Sliced red peppers (from our garden no less!)
Blanched green beans
Sliced cucumbers
Nicoise olives
Canned tuna in oil
Vinaigrette dressing

Quantities vary depending on (1) how many you're serving and (2) your personal likes and dislikes. So, here's where the "adapted" comes in:

1) Ditched the anchovies because The Wonderfully Patient Spouse abhors them. Quote: "I never eat anything that, at some time or another, I've used as bait." And end quote.
2) Used red peppers instead of green peppers because I abhor green peppers. I am the cook. I am the decider.
3) Used romaine instead of butter lettuce because I like romaine better. Repeat: I am the cook. I am the decider.
4) Used the W-S dressing recipe, which is hysterically, laughably simple: Equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil and chopped shallots. Season with a little pepper. The best.
5) Used kalamata olives instead of Nicoise because that's what was in the fridge. Truth be told, I bet the Nicoise would have been delicious.
6) And the VERY BEST part of the whole ding-dong thing -- used fresh grilled ahi tuna instead of canned tuna.

P.S. Julia Child would have you toss a few capers into the mix as well. I think this is a STELLAR idea.

P.P.S. For the first time in my life, I blanched my green beans to perfection. I'm so proud of myself.

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