about bliss

Thursday, July 30, 2009

daily bliss: summer salads

There comes a moment in summer when there are almost too many fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Each meal becomes a true omnivore's dilemma--whatever will I eat this time?

There also comes a moment in summer when temperatures rise and the desire to turn on the oven or stovetop decreases. (note: a chilly midwestern summer means *these* moments are rare, but i pretend, out of a perverse desire for a hot, humid summer. must be all those years spent living south of the mason-dixon line).

At these moments, your best friend is a summer salad, crafted out of the freshest ingredients, and arranged in endless iterations. My go-to food reference, Mark Bittman, just posted a list of 101 salads on the NY Times website last week, and he's the inspiration behind this post.

Here are two of the many salads I've been making lately.

Nicoise inspired Salad

boiled new potatoes
steamed green beans
chickpeas/garbanzo beans
lemon juice
olive oil
basil (italian and thai)

This vegan salad is tasty and adaptable. Some kind of potato and bean is essential, as is the lemon and olive oil dressing. A traditional Salad Nicoise also contains hard boiled eggs and tuna, neither of which I like.

Trattoria Stella inspired Salad

Trattoria Stella is a gem of a restaurant, tucked into a former mental hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. (the buildings are gorgeous, with a touch of the gothic. the whole "campus" has been transformed into upscale housing, restaurants, and shops).

Two summers ago I enjoyed a salad of butterhead lettuce, sweet cherries, and goat cheese that was transcendent. I had just started eating sweet cherries, and this salad was a revelation.

My version is built around some of my favorite ingredients.

local lettuces (whatever is available, from butterhead to spring greens to heirloom iceberg)
toasted pecans (don't skip the toasting--it adds the perfect level of complexity)
sweet cherries (halved and pitted)
bellavitano cheese (an amazing wisconsin cheese, a fruity parmesan style that crumbles)
balsamic vinaigrette (olive oil + aged balsamic vinegar)
maldon salt
black pepper

Imagine a lunch with *both* of these salads and a little wedge of bread, and you'll have my staple lunch this week. Yumm. Next week I'll try some new combinations...


  1. great salads!

    Would love to see your article. Could I link to it from my blog and mention you wrote it, or would you rather stay more anonymous. Let me know. You can email me at citygirllifestyle@gmail.com. :)

  2. YUM will definitely have to try this nicoise-esque salad!!

  3. Mark Bittman is becoming my go-to also, especially for one-from-column-a kind of dishes like salads. I'll make you a deal: I'll eat your tuna and eggs if you'll take my olives!

    The cherry salad sounds amazing. We just bought some cherries today, and have some heirloom lettuce from our farm box, so I anticipate this one coming up in the next few days. Thanks for the post; hope the poetry this evening was as fab as your hair, haha.