Four Summer Salads to Try Now

My favorite days of summer are spent with great friends, hitting the beach, getting in some outdoor activities and ending the day cooking up fabulous seasonal dishes. Between the Hamptons, Vail and my tiny New York City terrace, I have both created and have been introduced to some flavorful fares worth acknowledging that I know will remain in my recipe book for a very long time. This past weekend was spent again in the Hamptons: two finance guys, two fashion icons, two foodies and four small white dogs (typical NYC crowd if you will), we pulled together a smorgasbord of food that will for sure remain the meal to be topped for summers to come. Served alongside perfectly grilled steaks, simply sauteed fillets of cod, a crisp rose wine and a smooth bottle of Borollo, here are the tastiest four summer salads to try now. All serve about 6 people as a side dish.

Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad

Inspired by the sweet summer corn and yellow cherry tomatoes from the farm stands in Amagansett, this salad was created by my friend Fran and has become a Hamptons house staple. It can be kept in the fridge up to a day or two so be sure to make plenty, as it’s great for left-overs. Have it for lunch the next day with added greens or scooped with tortilla chips for an easy appetizer. Serve this salad at room temperature or right out of the fridge. Hold the parm to keep this dish vegan-friendly.

8 ears of corn, grilled, cooled and cut off cob
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of arugula, sliced into thin strips
splash of extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2-1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan Regiano, to taste

Combine corn, tomatoes and arugula in a large bowl. Toss with remaining ingredients to liking and serve.

Butter Lettuce with Avocado and Asparagus

This has become my go-to salad this season. I have been using tomatoes as a main ingredient so often that I needed to change things up a bit. The crisp butter lettuce and asparagus with the peppery hints from the radish, combined with the creaminess of the avocado and the crunch from the almonds…do I really need to say more?

2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, blanched and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch fresh radishes, washed and sliced into thin discs
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
2 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1-2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine lettuce, asparagus, radishes in a large bowl and set aside. For the dressing, mash the avocado into a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil and lemon juice until it forms a creamy consistency (it’s ok for some of the avocado to remain lumpy). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing with the salad and add in the toasted almond slivers last. Serve immediately.

Farm Stand Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil

A summer classic reinvented this weekend by my friend Karene. A foodie and a fashion-ista herself, I am always inspired by the thought that goes into each dish that she brings to the table. Stay tuned for an incredible summer dessert that she and I collaborated on together. You would never believe how healthy this flavorful dish is!

2 pints heirloom tomatoes, quartered or cut into bite sized pieces
handful of fresh basil, sliced
splash of balsamic vinegar
splash of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately.

Sun-dried Tomato and Radicchio Orzo

This dish originates from our trip to Vail earlier this summer. Friends, Melanie and Bill, hosted and we all collaborated on a 4th of July feast that literally kept us feasting all weekend long. This is her recipe, also brought to the Hamptons table for another round. It’s a true hit and only gets better the longer the flavors marinate together. So make ahead and keep tons as left-overs. You’ll definitely find yourself sneaking your fork in the fridge for another bite.

1.5 cup orzo
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup radicchio, sliced

Cook orzo according to package directions, drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool. Combine remaining ingredients and place in fridge for a few hours to marinate. This can be made up to a day in advance. Again, the longer the ingredients sit, the tastier it gets.

Summer cooking is all about finding the freshest seasonal ingredients to work with. Feel free to visit your own local farm stands and play around with ingredients that are available to you. I’d love to hear what you might come up with!

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