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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple Summer Chopped Salad


This summer salad is a simple composition of bite-sized vegetables. I used what caught my eye at the farmers' market: cauliflower, white corn, red bell peppers, red onion and scallions. I also used a small bit of local honey in the vinaigrette.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables are in season for you. Grilled summer squash, or steamed string beans would also be good.

This is a good salad to make ahead and keep in the fridge. Preparing it in advance gives the flavors time to marry and makes meal time easy. If you wish, make extra vinaigrette and keep the excess for other salads. It will last in the fridge for a few weeks.

Simple French Vinaigrette

3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 to 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch sea salt
Ground peppercorn to taste
4 to 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil until well-combined. Allow it to sit for a few minutes if you have time, for the garlic to soften and the honey to fully dissolve.

Whisk in 4 tbsp olive oil, until smooth, and taste. Add more olive oil if you wish and adjust the seasoning if needed.

To make the salad:

The individual components of this salad are made in advance, then everything is mixed together. I usually roast the red pepper and steam the vegetables while I'm in the kitchen doing something else. Roasting peppers in advance makes them so easy to peel. Just cut them in half and use clean fingers to rip out the core and seeds. Place the halves cut-side down on a baking pan and broil until blackened. Cool and store them cut-side up in the fridge until ready to use. Excess liquid will pool at the bottom, loosening the skin from the flesh and allowing you to pull it easily off.

2 cups steamed cauliflower florets
2 large cobs corn, steamed and kernels cut off (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, roasted
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts
Oregano, parsley or other fresh herb to garnish

To the big bowl with the vinaigrette inside, add the cauliflower, corn, red pepper, red onion and scallions. Toss everything together until the vegetables are evenly coated with the vinaigrette. Cover and transfer to the fridge.

To serve, toss again and taste for seasoning. Adjust it if necessary, then toss in some fresh oregano leaves or chopped fresh parsley. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more fresh herbs.

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