Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two sensational summer salads

I tried a couple of salad recipes recently that immediately became staples of my summer cooking arsenal.
   The first is Creamy Dill Cucumber Salad from a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
   Although I couldn’t find the exactly the same recipe online, I found a slightly different version of it on a website, (Click here for the recipe.) If you tweak a few things, and I’ll tell you how, you’ll have exactly the same recipe I made.
   I was first attracted to this recipe because it called for extensively draining the liquid from the cucumbers before the salad is made. My husband hates cucumber salads that are swimming in excess water.
The technique used, putting a zipper-lock bag full of water on top of the cucumbers and an onion to push out the liquid, works like a charm.
   The resulting salad was not watery – it was just delicious, family-friendly and a perfect side for burgers, hot dogs or steaks.
   The cider vinegar called for in the recipe, by the way, may also be labelled apple cider vinegar at the supermarket.
   Here’s how to tweak the recipe on so it will be exactly like the one I made:

   The recipe calls for ½ of a medium red onion.
   The recipe I made called for ½ of a medium onion – I used a yellow onion.

   The recipe does not explicitly have directions to toss and drain the onion with the cucumber.
   The recipe I made says to toss the cucumbers, onion and salt together in a strainer or colander.

   The recipe calls for one tablespoon of salt to be tossed with the cucumbers and onion.
   The recipe I made calls for 1 ½ tsps. of salt to be tossed with the cucumbers and onion.

The second recipe, Heirloom Tomato and Mint Salad, is a fantastic way to showcase fresh tomatoes.
   I couldn’t find the recipe, or a comparable one, on the Internet.
   The only place I know for sure you’ll find it in all of its delicious glory is in the cookbook Food Network Kitchens Favorite Recipes.
   This is a book that gets used a lot around our place, as it has some terrific recipes for miso soup and noodle dishes.
   This recipe calls for cutting up heirloom tomatoes (I use regular tomatoes if I can’t find heirloom), arranging the pieces on a platter and then scattering sliced shallot, sea salt and pepper on the pieces.
   After being left for about five minutes, the tomatoes are sprinkled with fresh mint and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and champagne or white wine vinegar.

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