Celebrate the bounty of summer’s fresh produce
Summer is a locavore’s delight. Any visit to a farmers market typically reveals eye-popping displays of fresh fruits and vegetables. Why not put those treasures to good use? Fresh salads of ripe fruits and veggies are best prepared simply so the flavor shines through. Adding ingredients such as local cheese, bread and honey can ensure that even those who avoid leafy greens grab a fork and dig in. Try these six juicy salads that incorporate summer garden staples like corn, tomatoes and zucchini.
Burrata Caprese Salad pictured above
A typical caprese salad is made with sliced tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. For sweeter flesh and variations in color and texture, look for heirloom tomatoes at local farmers markets beginning in July. For added decadence, replace the mozzarella with locally made burrata (fresh mozzarella that’s stretched around a cream filling) that can be purchased at Caputo’s or Harmons.
Slice tomatoes and arrange them on a platter. Pull the burrata apart in shreds and place it around the sliced tomatoes. Stack 5-6 fresh basil leaves on top of one another and then roll up into a cigar shape. Slice the basil into thin ribbons and scatter on top of the tomatoes and burrata. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper completes the salad.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad made with chopped tomatoes and bread. Make sure to use ripe summer tomatoes. Cut one baguette or loaf of ciabatta into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake cubes on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool.
Make a vinaigrette by whisking 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1½ tablespoons red-wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 minced clove of garlic, and dashes of salt and pepper. Cut 2 ½ pounds of tomatoes into chunks. Chop half of a red pepper, half of a red onion and 2 handfuls of fresh basil. Place bread cubes, chopped vegetables and vinaigrette into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
Enjoy the flavors of grilled Mexican street corn at home in salad form. Pre-heat your barbecue to medium-high. Shuck 4 ears of fresh corn. Put a minced garlic clove in melted butter and brush butter over corn. Rotating corn, grill until char marks appear on all sides. Remove from grill and let cool.
Carefully remove kernels from cobs with a sharp knife and place in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons mayo, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 ounces crumbled feta, 3 chopped scallions or chives, half a finely chopped jalapeño (seeded for less heat), 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped cilantro, the juice of a lime and 1 teaspoon chipotle powder. Add a squeeze of Sriracha for more heat.
Combine dressing with corn, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
Roasted Corn Orzo Shrimp Salad
This is pasta salad—elevated. Shuck 4 ears of corn and grill on medium heat until lightly charred on all sides. Cook 1 pound shrimp, then peel. Let the corn and shrimp cool. Meanwhile, cook ½ pound of orzo pasta. Drain and add to a large bowl with a little olive oil. Remove the kernels of corn from the cob, cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces and add both to the orzo.
Chop 1 red bell pepper, 4 green onions and 1 avocado. In a small bowl, whisk juice of 1 lemon with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add veggies and dressing to orzo and gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning; salt and pepper as needed.
Grilled Veggie and Halloumi Salad
Halloumi is sheep and goat’s milk cheese that has a high melting point, making it ideal for grilling. Slice 8 ounces of halloumi into ½-inch slices. Cut 1 peeled red onion into wedges, 2 zucchini squashes into thick slices, 1 red pepper into thick strips, and 8 cleaned mushrooms into halves. Place veggies and halloumi in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Heat your barbecue to medium-high and cook veggies and halloumi in batches until charred. Arrange salad greens on a large platter, top with grilled veggies and halloumi. Top with tahini dressing and fresh parsley. Season to taste. Squeeze grilled lemon over the whole thing.
Zucchini Salad With Pistachios and Goat Cheese
When zucchini squash begins to ripen, we need novel ways to use it as so much is available at once. For this salad, wash and trim the ends from 4 medium-sized zucchinis. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline, slice zucchini into long, thin ribbons stopping at the seedy core. Arrange zucchini ribbons on a bed of greens like arugula or spring mix on a large platter. Coarsely chop 1/3 cup pistachios and crumble 2 ounces of goat cheese. Sprinkle pistachios and goat cheese over the zucchini ribbons.
For dressing, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, the zest and juice from one lemon and one orange in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper, then whisk.
Drizzle dressing over salad and season with more salt and pepper.