I first saw these gorgeous little morsels in a pool of sunshine. They were bright orange and green and so tiny. I bit into one. Sweet and sour. I had to have them.
Those miniature tomatoes were destined for the salad above. Inspired, I set out to find ingredients ripe from the local farmer’s garden to make two more salads to round out lunch. It was this weekend, and I had friends staying with me from the city. Rather than cooking something, I wanted to prepare cool salads and offer them alfresco.
The beets were newly picked, so I packed those into my wicker basket. I found some cucumbers, fresh garlic, and loads of dill. And I headed home.
I came up with a wacky but so incredibly delicious twist on Tzatziki, taking the wonderful Greek dipping sauce and making it into a salad with a punch of sweetness and crunch. A sweet foil to the garlic and salt of the sauce.
I cooked the beets, added some black canned olives for earthiness, and crumbled feta over the top. A pinch of cumin made it taste slightly exotic. Loved it.
I wanted to share with you these three super simple summery salads. They turned out complex and satisfying and made a wonderful quick lunch. I had some homemade bread so I sliced it, bathed it in olive oil, warmed it in the oven, and served it with our salads.
My friends sat in a pool of sunshine on my patio and were silent. Normally active and high energy, they visibly mellowed in the serenity of the scenery. Of course, the chilled wine helped! And I was happy to see them enjoying my impromptu salads that I wanted to capture the essence of summer. Which goes to show you don’t always need a recipe. You just need some super great ingredients!
Cherry Tomato Salad
2 pints cherry tomatoes (red, orange, or yellow)
1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
pinch sea salt to taste
1. Wash and slice in half the cherry tomatoes.
2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. I don’t use Dijon mustard in this vinaigrette as I prefer to let the taste of the tomatoes come through. If you love a classic vinaigrette, add in 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard when you whisk the vinaigrette. Toss the tomatoes in the dressing. Serve.
Ruby Red Beet Salad
4 red beets, cooked and sliced into wedges
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 can large black pitted olives, sliced thickly
6 red or pink or white radishes, sliced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1. Make the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, cumin, and sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the beets, onion, olives and radishes with the salad dressing. Let this mixture rest for at least 1/2 hour to marinate and marry the flavors.
3. When you are ready to serve, crumble feta cheese over the top.
Sweet and Salty Tzatziki Salad
1 long English cucumber, or 3-4 regular cucumbers
1 cup Greek style yogurt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed or crushed
5 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 quick dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup raisins that have been soaked and plumped up (dried cranberries would be good too)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts or your favorite nuts)
1. Wash and slice the cucumbers into thick slices then slice in half. Toss into a large bowl.
2. Mix the dressing: with a fork blend the yogurt, crushed garlic, dill, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add in the raisins.
3. Fold the dressing into the cucumbers until well mixed. This salad also benefits from resting for 1/2 an hour like the beet salad above. You can make both of them and put them in the fridge for that time. To serve, scatter the chopped walnuts on top then drizzle a touch more of the extra virgin olive oil. If you have any dill left, coarsely chop and shower the salad with it just before serving.