Summer salad

When the weather is warm and fresh vegetables are abundant, nothing satisfies like a gigantic salad.

To my lasting regret, I used to have an irrational prejudice against salads. As a vegetarian for much of my life, people often assumed that my diet consisted primarily of raw leafy greens (and occasionally that was the only thing on the menu I could eat). Also, the (totally unfair) stigma of salad as diet food made me determined to dislike it. No lettuce, for me, thanks; I’ll have that gigantic, fatty cheeseburger.

Over time, I realized that my aversion to salads was silly and unfounded. There is something elemental, pure, and glowingly wholesome about a really good salad. When the components are fresh and flavorful, salad affords us communion with the earth in a way that no cooked food ever can. Of course, there is a place for warm salads, as well as salads including cooked ingredients. But when it’s hot out and your fridge (or garden) is overflowing with delicate greens, crisp cucumbers and fragrant herbs, a simple salad is best. Eaten with cheese and crackers, it’s the perfect warm-weather meal.

Yogurt-mint dressing

This dressing also works well alongside middle-Eastern dishes, as a sauce or marinade for grilled lamb or chicken, and as a dip for crudite.

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs. lemon juice

1 small shallot, minced

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1 tsp. honey or real maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything in a jar and shake vigorously. Adjust seasonings to taste. Dressing will be better if it sits for at least an hour.

Notes: I like to cut all of my salad components into chunks, except for onions, which I slice thin. The dressing may not be completely emulsified; streaks of olive oil will probably remain, which I like. You can also whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, but I find that a jar is the tidiest and most economical, dish-wise. Use whole milk yogurt  –   low-fat dairy is a crime.

Lettuces, sunflower micro-greens, spicy greens, sweet onion, cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumber, tomatoes
Big pieces, thin slices

Shallot, mint, Brown Cow

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