It hasn't been as godawful hot here like it was last week, but still it's hot. Dinnertime is of course the hottest part of the day, which makes for a very crabby cook. I've tried to make myself a little easier to be around by making cold salads pretty much every day for dinner. This book, obviously, has helped.
Salad for Dinner,by Jeanne Kelley, is not a vegetarian cookbook, though it may sound like one. One chapter of the book is dedicated to meat free salads, but the rest are focused on seafood, fish, poultry, and meat. The salads are substantial, inventive, simple, and really just beautiful. She has some classics in the book, like salade nicoise. My nicoise salad (above) is actually not at all like the one in the book--which has artichokes and peppers and a delicious sounding anchovy vinaigrette--but hers is not very much like the classic salad anyway.
Some salad seem to be an idea of a dinner turned into a salad: Vietnamese pork meatball banh mi salad, spicy sriracha buffalo chicken salad. And some salads are beautiful, seasonal ingredients that come together to make a perfect salad: Oregon summer grilled chicken salad (with peaches and blackberries). The book is a fantastic resource for different kinds of salad greens, dressings, lists of make-ahead salads, and how to make up your own salad for dinner. I may have checked the book out from the library, but it will be on my shelf for good soon enough.
I'm going to leave you with a salad recipe that isn't from the book at all, rather from another excellent cookbook, River Cottage Everyday. This salad was so damn simple and good I had to share.
Fresh Peas and Ricotta salad
- 1 lb peas (fresh if you can get them)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (again, the fresh stuff is so much better)
- 3 or 4 green onions thinly sliced
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- a herb (thyme is nice or basil or mint or even tarragon, but not all of them together)
Cook the peas in salted water. Rinse them in cold water until they've cooled off. Mix with onions and herbs. Pour a few big glugs of olive oil and squeeze about a 1/2 lemon on top. Make sure everything is coated and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Gently mix in the ricotta and serve. If you want to make this into a meal, some chicken would not be out of place.