Monday, June 18, 2007

Summertime Salads

What do you do when you have a fridge full of fresh vegetables and an apartment made overly warm by the unusually high temperatures outside?

Okay, okay, I know a number of you might think, "Well, turn on the air conditioning and just cook, silly!" But I'm not a fan of A/C, thanks ever so, and I'm finding that my big ceiling fans do make the atmosphere up here more than tolerable.

So why not take the opportunity to slow down a little, move to a gentler tempo, and enjoy the vegetables in as close to their original state as possible? Yes, I'm in the mood for a salad... or two.

With a bag full of red potatoes and some snow peas and dill left over from previous weeks' markets, I decided to pull out my old standby and make a light potato salad, dressed with a simple olive oil and borage-dill vinegar dressing and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Yes, I had to have the stove on for a little while to steam the potatoes and pea pods, but since I did that in the cool of the morning and was able to chase the steam out before the afternoon heat, I thought it was worth the effort.

As for today, after a scorching walk home in the 90+ degree sunshine, I decided to try something a little different. After a quick radish sandwich and a small pile of fresh greens, I took one of the beets I'd bought on Saturday, peeled it, and grated it. Then I grated some fresh ginger on top of it and sprinkled it with a dash of rice vinegar for a refreshing little Asian-style salad (or "beet tartare," as the Gentleman so aptly put it when I shared the recipe with him on the phone).

Sure, raw beet is messy and will stain everything in sight, but it sure is good!

And when dinner takes no heat and little time to prepare, well, that's the way I want to keep my cool throughout the summer.

Beet Tartare

Created on a whim because I didn't want to turn on a burner to make the warm beet salad recipe I'd pulled out, this little gem is worth a try, especially if you don't think you like beets. Think carrots with depth. It's easy, cold, crunchy, nutritious, and a lovely palate cleanser. Just try it, okay? Trust me.

1 beet, peeled
1" fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp rice vinegar

Shred the beet. Grate fresh ginger over the beet shreds. Toss with rice vinegar and chill. Eat with enthusiasm.

Serves 1 and is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.


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