Suddenly, salads are cool – a cool meal, that is

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 27, 2009

It is very hot now and I always try to think of cool salads to prepare for these days. The lettuce is gone because of the heat. With all the produce my husband is bringing in, I decided to use some of it raw with a simple dressing. We have been having overgrown zucchini (it does get away from one) and I thought I could peel it into thin strips with a vegetable peeler and eat it raw. It was really good. You can do this with cucumbers also. Small ears of corn, uncooked, are great in a salad. Eating vegetables raw are really better for you also. They retain all the vitamins and minerals one can lose by cooking. So here are some of my recipes created in the past weeks!

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

1 large oversized zucchini

1 ear of sweet, fresh corn

½ onion sliced thin, red or yellow

½ cup small tomatoes, sliced in half

¼ cup basil, thinly shredded

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Peel outer skin of zucchini with a vegetable peeler and discard. Using the vegetable peeler move down the sides of the zucchini and cut thin strips from all around the zucchini. Put the ribbons in a dishtowel and squeeze to get the water out. Add the other ingredients to the zucchini and add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough olive oil to make the ingredients meld together-2 tablespoons is about right. Serve immediately.

Cucumber, Onion and Feta Salad

4 cucumbers

½ cup thinly sliced white or red onions

½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup feta cheese

¼ cup mint or basil, or a combination of both

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Peel the cucumbers and discard the outer skin. Using a vegetable peeler make ribbons of the cucumber by letting the peeler go down the sides of the cucumber. Squeeze the ribbons with a dishtowel to remove excess water. Add the onions, tomatoes and then the red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving add the feta cheese, mint, basil or both. Add some olive oil to meld the salad together.

This is a great summer salad from Patricia Wells with a classic combination of fresh dill and refreshing cucumbers, seasoned with just a touch of vinegar and sugar, for a delicate sweet-and sour blend.

Cucumber Salad with Dill

Serves 4

1 pound cucumbers scrubbed and trimmed

1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt

¼ cup Champagne vinegar

¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

With a fork, score the skin of the cucumbers all along the length of the vegetable. (This will make for a more attractive presentation once cut.) Using a very sharp knife slice the cucumbers very thinly. Place the cucumbers in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss to evenly coat the cucumbers slices with the salt. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, dill and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Drain the cucumbers well and pat dry with a clean towel. Add the cucumbers to the dressing and toss to blend. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to two hours. Serve chilled.

My favorite salad for the summer is tomato and mozzarella with basil. I have given this recipe two years ago, but it is worth repeating.

Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Cheese Salad

Serves 2

3 very ripe tomatoes

Handful of basil

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

Mozzarella cheese (can use fresh, or shredded type in packages) fresh is of course best.

Slice the tomatoes. Sprinkle the basil over all. Add the salt and pepper, then add as much red pepper flakes as you wish. (The red pepper flakes just bring out the flavor somewhat). Spread the cheese over all. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of olive oil. So simple and so good.

I have a new cookbook, A Platter of Figs, which I would highly recommend. The recipes are based on what is in season and that is how we like to eat. I was happy to find a recipe for shaved summer squash with squash blossoms. Another addition to my squash blossom recipes.

The recipe is very much like the first recipe given here with the peeling of the zucchini into strips. David Tanis, the author, just tears the squash blossoms over the zucchini strips to give a beautiful color and added personality to the salad. So, another way to use those squash blossoms.

Give it a try! Stay cool.