Saturday, July 23, 2011

a summer salad.

i make a lot of salads. it's safe to say that i consume a salad 6 days/week and put together about half of those myself. yet, frequency does not (i repeat, does not) breed variation or creativity. indeed, you probably couldn't pick out the salad i made yesterday from the one i made today, or last week, or 3 years ago. because well, they may just be the same salad: greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and (the big highlight!!) tofu. dressed, every single time, with balsamic and olive oil. it's not that i don't want to try new raw veggie combinations - it's more an issue of habit and time-saving techniques. you say salad, i pull out the same 6 things from the fridge. 

but finally, dear friends, my (lifelong) salad rut was brought to a halt earlier in the week when i received a dinner invitation. it was requested that i provide a side dish, and instantly i knew: (salad) creativity was to be mine! 

i started by scouring some beloved cooking sites and stumbled across this recipe from a favorite blog of mine, bella eats. the salad called for a heap of cucumbers, which are overflowing supermarket bins here anyway, so it seemed like the perfect veggie to feature. i changed things around slightly, adding in green onions, toasted walnuts, and fresh basil at the end. the dressing is superb and comes together very quickly (and without the help of a blender!).

a final word of advice: definitely peel and de-seed the cucumbers. yes, it's 3 cucumbers. yes, it's a bit time consuming. no, i probably won't add this laborious step to my daily salad-making routine. but it's really worth it if you have the time and are interested in receiving an overabundance of compliments on the freshness, crispness, and overall deliciousness of your evening's side dish contribution.

a simple summer salad to impress

3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 green onions, diced
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely chopped basil
2 peppers, diced
½ cup walnuts, halved and toasted
4 big handfuls greens

50 ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
130 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
peel cucumbers and slice them in half length-wise. scoop seeds out using a small spoon and cut into 1/2-inch slices. place in a colander in sink and sprinkle with some salt. toss to coat and let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing them very well. 

for the dressing, combine oil, vinegar, honey, shallot, mustard and garlic. salt and pepper to taste. in a large serving bowl, toss salad greens, cucumbers, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and basil together. 

toast walnuts in a small pan over the stove for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. add to salad along with the dressing. salt and pepper to your liking.