With 100-degree temperatures in this week’s forecast, and lots of days with lesser forecasted highs getting within a whisker’s length of 100, the quickest way to melt my cooking mojo is to stand me in front of a hot oven or stove. Many people tout grilling as the way through these situations, since grilling lets you cook with heat, even high heat, without heating up the kitchen. We’re doing some grilling, for sure, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist about timing my cooking so that everything is done at the same time, and I haven’t yet mastered the timing of grilling to the extent that I have stove top and oven cooking.
Professionally, I’m in a major transition period, as I wrap up a job I’ve had for 10 years and prepare to take on a big new challenge with a new employer. Let’s just say, I’ve got a lot of things on my mind right now, and the timing for cooking a hobo-style foil pack of vegetables doesn’t always grab the prime spot on my radar.
This is where cold salads come in really handy. They don’t require much, if any, heat. They can be made in advance. They showcase seasonal produce, and they are often pretty attractive. I’ve taken to making one or two new cold salads every couple of days. Because each recipe makes a generous amount, this is resulting in our having 3-4 containers of different already prepared cold salads available in our refrigerator at any one point in time. For some meals, we just serve ourselves from this buffet of cold salads. For others, we augment with fresh fruit and/or something prepared just for that meal, such as a protein prepared on the grill. I am loving the ease, the variety, and the quick cleanup of this pattern, so much so that I find myself daydreaming about sticking to this routine in perpetuity. Alas, I know this is a passing phase, though. When the mercury drops, and I get the first feel of a fall chill in the air, I’ll be scrambling to cook a pot of vegetable soup! Until then, give me my cold salad parade!
Here’s a list of some of the entries in this month’s parade:
green pea, tomatoes & radishes with lemon dijon vinaigrette
vegetable antipasto salad (cucumbers or zucchini, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted red peppers, fresh basil or dill, vinaigrette)
chickpea and carrot salad
black bean, tomato and corn salad with lime cilantro dressing
white beans with pesto sauce
kale Caesar salad
red cabbage coleslaw
mutabal (Lebanese charred eggplant salad)
broccoli and kale pasta primavera with pesto sauce
truffled egg salad
apple, celery, cucumber and seaweed salad with sesame and rice vinegar dressing