Summer makes it easy to feed your family fast, fresh, healthy food that also should be really good-tasting. It makes it easy to offer your kids a pre-dinner snack or an appetizer masquerading as a snack. It’s become nearly ritual here, as I finish the “main” part of dinner, for the kids to sit at the bar, where we often eat, and tuck into the salads, which I prepare beforehand (sometimes at lunch, or right after school, or any fifteen minutes I have to wash and chop and toss the produce with some kind of dressing….) and set out in mini-bowls.
In summer, we like a lot of variety. Small dishes, lots of variety. This makes our market haul last longer, gives the kids a sense of choice and power and just looks prettier on the table. Last Sunday, I set out three side salads, which took maybe ten minutes to prepare, total:
White bean with olive oil, salt, fresh garlic, fresh sage
Cucumber with olive oil, salt, white balsamic, sugar, fresh dill
“Caprese” with baby tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, balsamic
We had a large green salad, dressed with my go-to mix of olive oil and white balsamic and lemon pepper, to which I’ve been obsessively adding basil and cilantro. I think cilantro is the new tarragon.
These were to go with a few links of grilled wild boar sausage (Thank you, thank you Holding Ranch! ) and grilled italian bread grilled with olive oil and salt.
All you need to keep on hand to make a range of salads are some
- good olive oil
- different salts (herbed, hawaiian, kosher, sea, black, etc.)
- a range of vinegars (red wine, white balsamic, balsamic, rice wine, anything fancier that you like)
- mustards (yellow, dijon, country..)
- lemons and meyer lemon
- fresh herbs
- fresh garlic
Keep a light hand with salt, don’t pepper everything, mix acids to oil in about a 1 to 2 ratio (as in 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil) and experiment.