Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Salad of the Month: Rosy Summer Salad

Today, the temperature climbed to a high of around 92, with the heat index peaking at 103. When Brian came home from work and asked what I wanted for dinner, the idea of cooking anything at all didn't seem very appealing. It seemed like a perfect day to just go pick some garden veggies and make a nice, cool salad. And since we have all these raspberries right now, I thought it would be nice to toss some of those with some greens and maybe a few nuts, serve it with some bread, and call it dinner. A nice, light, cool meal for a hot day.

Unfortunately, our summer lettuce crop has been pretty scanty, so we had to make a quick trip to the store to buy the lettuce. But fortunately, the H-Mart had red leaf lettuce on sale for only 99 cents a head, so we went ahead (ha ha) and bought two of them, along with a few other assorted produce items for the rest of the week. Then, after returning home, we made a second quick trip around to the raspberry bed to harvest today's crop, gleaning about another half pint of berries. With these in hand, we were ready to assemble the new salad.

I'd never made a salad with raspberries before, but I had ample experience making salads with a combination of veggies and fruit, and I knew from experience that if you combine greens, bite-sized bits of fruit, and anything crunchy, you can't go too far wrong. The Citrus Spinach Salad in The Clueless Vegetarian, for instance, combines spinach with chopped oranges and sweet onion, using the juice from the oranges as a dressing. I've made a modified version of that recipe using red leaf lettuce, grapefruit, and walnuts, and I've played on the same theme to make a strawberry spinach salad. So adapting the same recipe to use raspberries was a logical step.

The only decision I had to make was which kind of nuts to use out of the choices we had available: walnuts, pecans, almonds, or pine nuts. I thought pine nuts would probably work well, but since they're frightfully expensive and there are some recipes that really won't work with anything else, I figured it would be best to save them and go with pecans instead. So Brian toasted up some pecans and chopped them up, and then he set them out next to the rest of the ingredients—torn up red lettuce leaves, fresh raspberries, and Mark Bittman's Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette—and we each assembled our own bowlful, adjusting the proportions to taste.

Since it contained both red leaf lettuce and raspberries, I decided to dub this concoction Rosy Summer Salad. As I expected, it was light but satisfying, and eked out by a lightly toasted English muffin, made a suitable dinner for the hot evening without adding any more heat to the kitchen. And as a nice bonus, there weren't a lot of dishes to wash.

I suppose it's sort of cheating to count this as a brand-new salad recipe when it's really just a variation on the standard greens-fruit-nuts recipe I've used before, but it can't hurt to remind yourself now and again that recipes were made to be modified. Especially recipes like this one, which is pretty close to foolproof.
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