Saturday, July 23, 2011
I know, I know. No one actually needs a recipe for a salad. It's a salad. You pick out your veggies in whatever amount and combination you want and toss it together. I mean, a thousand make-your-own-salad joints in NYC can't be wrong. But sometimes when you're standing in front of that glass case choosing between dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, you could use a little inspiration.
Even more to the point, when standing at the entrance to your local farmers market, and when presented with huge 1 pound pattypan squashes, you might hesitate. I mean, it looks like a cartoon flower. What the heck are you supposed to do with something like that? Before now, I'd only seen the pattypan as a mini vegetable, no larger than the size of my palm. And had I actually been at a farmers market, rather than ordering produce from my CSA, I would have been aware that they come full-sized as well. Instead, I ordered 3 huge pattypan squashes in my last box. And this is the first place one of them went. The boil time is brief because they soak up water fast and you don't want them to get mushy. I think you could just leave them raw if you want, but I do prefer the texture after a brief soak.
I'll admit that the salad looks, at first, a bit on the ho-hum side. But all the veggies should be fresh at this time of year, and perfectly flavorful. Also, never underestimate the power of a sprinkle of feta and a great vinaigrette. This is a great vinaigrette. Lime, cilantro, cumin and even cardamom. It's a vinaigrette to take with you to other salads.
Romaine and Summer Vegetable Salad and Lime Vinaigrette
Adapted from Deborah Madison's The Greens Cookbook
1 head romaine lettuce
1 large pattypan squash, quartered and sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 large radishes, sliced thinly
1 large avocado, peeled and chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Remove the outer leaves from the lettuce and tear the inner leaves into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry the leaves, and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it lightly. Plunge the squash into the boiling water and cook for just a moment. As in literally, one minute, then drain and shock the squash in cold water to stop it from cooking further. Toss the vegetables together then crumble as much feta on top as you want. Garnish with cilantro leaves and dress with the following lime vinaigrette
For the lime vinaigrette:
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 clove garlic, passed through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil and whisk together. Slowly whisk in the oil and use to dress the salad.