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Salads get a cool summer spin

By: Elan Head

July 21, 2007

Greetings once again from the Northwest, where a blistering heat wave has been pushing temperatures up into the high 90s pretty much every day.

I know, I donít have any right to complain ó the Kyrene Corridor wonít be seeing temperatures that reasonable until September.

Even so, itís been too hot for me to feel like doing much cooking, so Iíve been eating a lot of salad. With the addition of some protein ó cheese, nuts, eggs or meat ó a salad can be an easy and satisfying summer meal.

Well, probably easier for you than me. Although my basement apartment is pretty luxe by helicopter pilot standards, it does suffer from the conspicuous absence of a kitchen sink.

I have to wash vegetables and dishes in the bathroom sink, which is do-able, but not exactly convenient.

And because my bare-bones arsenal of cooking utensils doesnít include a salad spinner, Iíve had to resort to the pillowcase, a trick my salad-fancying mom has employed for years.

This involves me tossing my clean, wet lettuce leaves into a clean, dry pillowcase, going outside and spinning the contents vigorously over my head.

It works surprisingly well, although I feel pretty silly doing it. Iíll be happy to get back to my salad spinner.

Still, the terrific variety of fresh produce around here has been a treat, and has inspired me to break out of the simple green salad rut Iíve been in for months.

Here are two of my happier combinations. The first is a vaguely Asian salad inspired by one I had at a nearby roadside produce stand.

Iíve added eggs and nuts to turn it into a respectable lunch or dinner.

All proportions are per person, but can be multiplied easily.

First, make the dressing by whisking together 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon rice or apple cider vinegar, Ĺ teaspoon soy sauce and Ĺ teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Wash and dry a generous handful of lettuce or spinach, torn into pieces. Clean and strip the stems off of six sugar snap peas and slice each one on the diagonal into three or four pieces.

Wash and dice half of a red bell pepper. Toss all of these ingredients with half of the dressing and arrange on a plate.

Top the salad with one or two hard-boiled eggs, quartered and sprinkled with salt, and 1/4 cup unsalted cashews. Drizzle on the remaining dressing.

Feel free to experiment with toppings as you see fit: slivered green onions or cubed mango or avocado would not be out of place here.

Hereís another salad straight out of the Northwest. For this one, make a lemony vinaigrette by whisking together one tablespoon olive oil, one teaspoon fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

If you prefer, make a balsamic vinaigrette by substituting balsamic vinegar for the lemon juice.

Wash and dry a generous handful of lettuce and toss with two sprigs of fresh dill, torn into small pieces.

Toss the lettuce with half of the dressing. Top with 2 to 3 ounces of smoked salmon or trout, flaked. (For this, youíll want the kind of smoked salmon sold as vacuum-packed chunks, not the much silkier lox.)

Add ľ cup toasted walnuts and a handful of fresh raspberries or blackberries, then drizzle with the remaining dressing.

Now crank up the AC and count the days until cooler weather.

 

 
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