It's been in the mid to high 90s almost all week. My apartment is cool but it's still too hot to feel like cooking. I don't want anything remotely heavy. I don't even want mayonnaise on my sandwiches. I have very little interest in eating meat or even eggs. I barely recognize myself.
While I don't know what is wrong with summer food Lucy (no eggs?!), I do know that all she wants to eat is salads. Crisp vinegary dressings. A light hand with the olive oil (if not the butter - never). Wine with ice. A very, very cold gin and tonic. And vegetables, vegetables, vegetables.
Here are three salads that I've made this week. Two are cold and one is also good warm. All are good for hot days. And don't worry, I won't be this salubrious forever. Summer has to end, and anyway I had an omelet for lunch today.
Green salad with goat cheese
This is my standard salad that I make all the time so I haven't bothered to photograph it. I sometimes add chicken that I've cut into cubes and sauteed in olive oil and cumin. This is a great addition and makes the cheese go all melty, but it's not essential. Adding the cheese and/or chicken ups it from side dish to potential dinner.
The Whole Foods on P Street has incredible rolled goat cheese with oil and herbs. It is obviously from goats who have subsisted on nothing but organic heirloom vegetables and champagne while frolicking in fields with views of lakes. It's basically goat cheese crack. If you can get something similar, be sure to use the herbs and oil from the cheese in your dressing, because they are like crack too. In any case, don't buy the ready packaged goat cheese crumbles. They are just not the same. Get real cheese and cut it up.
This is just a matter of cutting veggies and putting them in a bowl, then tossing with dressing. Here's what I use:
Lettuce blend of your choice
Goat cheese cut into bits
A few tablespoons good olive oil (supplement the oil the cheese was packed in)
About 1/4 as much good white wine vinegar (I don't like dark balsamic in general and I think it might be too harsh for this salad, but go ahead if you like it. White balsamic is great, though - in this and every context)
About 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
I didn't make big salads for the longest time because it's so difficult to make a salad for one person. Most vegetables are just too big, and even using only one of each kind makes more than I want. Also, leftover salad that gets soggy with dressing is really unappetizing. The obvious solution is to only dress as much as you're going to eat at one time, but it's kind of hard to dress an individual portion of salad (I hate dressing that's just dribbled over the top and not mixed in).
My solution is that I'll make a big salad, then put just as much as I want for dinner in a bowl. When I dress it, I toss it with my hands. It's easier to control in a small bowl than salad tongs, and if your hands are clean and you're the one eating there's really no reason not to. Plus, it's fun! Then you can save the rest of the salad for lunch the next day and dress it right before you eat it.
Baby Artichokes and Pasta
I love chokes. Whole wheat pasta is great here, and Michael Pollan told me to eat it. Actually, all these salads are pretty Michael Pollan-approved.
4-5 baby artichokes
2-4 garlic cloves
Whole wheat pasta
1/2 tablespoon butter
Crushed red pepper
1. Peel off the outside leaves from the baby artichokes and cut off the stems and tips of the leaves. Peel off more than you think you should or they will still be spiky. Cut lengthways into fourths.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and add the baby chokes and some white wine. Sautee on medium heat until soft, adding more wine if necessary. Salt to taste and add crushed red pepper flakes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When both are finished and chokes are soft, mix together. Top with parmesan. Eat cold or warm.
Addendum: I used the rest of my baby chokes a few nights later, sautéing them the same way but eating them with quinoa. I cut them width-wise rather than length wise, and it was way better! Less chance of chewy leaves when they're in little rounds and strips.
Green Bean and Potato Yoghurt Salad
This I completely made up. I love potato salad and mayonnaise is awesome but it was just too heavy for this weather. I also love tzatziki and raita and really any yoghurty sauce - this version is one I make for salmon but I eat it with anything (the tzatziki version has garlic and lemon juice, the raita version has no dill and instead cumin.) When I was falling asleep the other night I realized that it could be a great binder for a potato salad as well, and much healthier than the traditional mayo.
I actually started thinking about this recipe when pondering some green beans I needed to use and deciding what to eat with them. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to cook the potatoes. I've had this yoghurt sauce with latkes before and it's one of my favorite combos, but although I cook my latkes with very little fat, the egg and bread crumbs still up the heaviness more than I wanted. I decided to roast the potatoes in olive oil and salt, and threw a few garlic cloves into the pan. The potatoes still stuck too the pan too much, and I'm not sure why, but they tasted good.
One large potato
2 garlic cloves
About 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled
A few tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400. Chop the potato into approximately 1" cubes. Oil a roasting pan and toss in the potatoes and garlic cloves. Salt. Roast, stirring occasionally, until they brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Trim green beans and cut to 2". Steam and set aside to cool.
3. Finely chop or cuisinart cucumber and dill. Add yoghurt and vinegar, and salt to taste.
4. Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl, squeezing in the soft roasted garlic as well.
This was my breakfast this morning. Winning!