I am not in my salad days being a woman of a certain age with almost solid white hair. My wonderful husband calls me a platinum blond! “Salad days” is a Shakespearean expression referring to youthfulness, inexperience, and the enthusiasm that accompanies innocence. I am in the salad days of this blogging experience and the recipes this week are salads. We are in a heatwave defined by three consecutive days of 90 plus temperatures and, I believe, a certain level of humidity. In this type of heat it is best to not heat up the kitchen with a lot of cooking and the cold salads are refreshing as well.
So first of all there is the standard cucumber-onion salad of my youth. Mom would slice up a cucumber and an onion, put it in a bowl, and cover with a mixture of water, sugar, and white vinegar. She may have added salt and pepper but I do not really remember. This bowl would be placed on the kitchen table while supper was prepared and I would sneak nibbles until supper. I believe my siblings also would pick at the cucumbers as well. I have looked at a number of recipes for this and most, if not all, call for oil and heating the concoction before pouring on the cucumber-onion combination. My mom never used oil nor do I remember her heating anything. So even though I have looked at those recipes to get an idea of the proportions I never add the oil. My basic recipe is equal parts sugar, water, and white vinegar. I add dill as well although this time I added sliced mini red peppers to mimic a recipe I found in Food Network Magazine. The beauty of this salad is that one can always keep adding slices of cucumbers and onions as they get eaten out of the liquid.
Next I make a cucumber watermelon salad that I try to remember from an advertisement for feta cheese in a magazine last summer. I even bought a mint plant for fresh mint leaves. This is a simple combination of diced watermelon, diced cucumbers, crumbled feta, and mint leaves. I drizzled it with juice from half of a lemon and the lime infused olive oil I purchased from one of those specialty oil and vinegar shoppes while visiting Chatham.
But the salad I was looking forward to making was a succotash salad. My inspiration was the salad shown in Food Network Magazine. I remember my mom making succotash; she just cooked corn and Lima beans together. I fancy mine up with sauteed onions and bacon. But this is a salad. I had made a salad with corn, green beans, and zucchini found in the newspaper earlier this summer. And my darling granddaughter loves to eat green beans and corn so I thought this would be fun to make even though she is not at my home for this meal. I blanched three ears of corn instead of using them raw. I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and dried chives, because I had no red onion, and I do not always like onions in salads. (The cuke-onion salad above is a primary exception). The dressing was honey, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. I later drizzled the lime olive oil for a brighter taste.
3 ears corn, blanch, and remove kernels; about two cups each frozen or fresh green beans and Lima beans, thaw and cook in boiling water for about 3 minutes; 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved; one diced avocado; a handful of fresh basil leaves,sliced. Mix all together and pour on dressing and toss to coat. I think you can use whatever homemade vinaigrette type dressing you prefer, about 1/2 cup. And add freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt (if you use added salt). For using the leftovers I added diced ham for a second meal.
Keep cool and eat your vegetables!