All I want to eat right now is vegetables. I just want to eat cold salads and drink cold water. It’s end-of-July hot but not yet miserable August hot, but we are very, very close. Every morning I try to cram as much as I can into the morning hours. I was saying yesterday that although we get a lot more day light in summer, the middle of the day is lost due to heat. So it’s really the same amount of time to live in as winter. Does that make sense?
The other day I visited a dear friend, in her garden, with plenty of room between us. She had a few beets for me–big gorgeous candy-striped Chioggia hybrids with luxurious greens. I was so thankful! My heavy, rocky, clay soil isn’t greet for beets. She has very sandy soil, which is better for root vegetables. Have you ever had a raw beet salad? Scrub it, peel it, and grate it. Dress it lightly with a sprinkle of salt and rice wine vinegar. The beets release their liquid, and it ends up being a crunchy slaw/pickle. Ume vinegar is really nice, too. These lighter beets tend to gray easily, so dress immediately and eat right away. Red beets will keep.
We stopped at a farm stand last week and got some of the early season corn. We had a few ears with butter and salt the first night. It was really good but not outrageously good, so the rest of the corn became salads. You blanch them for a few minutes, and then cut the kernels from the ears. I made the old classic corn and tomato salad, and there is reason that it’s a classic. Just olive oil and rice wine vinegar (my favorite for summer salads), torn zucchini blossoms, basil and salt.
Zucchini blossoms are finding their way into every salad I make. They are delicious snipped on top of slices of juicy tomato. After having the indulgent treat of fried blossoms a few times, I started just using them in salads. They have such a soft, velvety texture that they are always welcome. The cucumbers are starting in earnest now, and I’m looking forward to smashed cucumber salad, which I could eat every day on hot days. Or this Vietnamese-style beef salad over rice noodles, which utilized left-over grilled kebabs. The dressing was a teaspoon of sesame oil, a teaspoon of maple syrup, two tablespoons of tamari, and a healthy squeeze of lime. I didn’t have fish sauce, or that would have gone in, too. Carrots, cucumbers, pickled turnips, and mint rounded it all out.