Anything But Rabbit Food: Refreshing, lettuce-less summer salads

Anything But Rabbit Food: Refreshing, lettuce-less summer salads

No lettuce required: Summer Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Salads are a staple of summer and they come in many forms. What pops into most folks’ heads when the word “salad” is uttered is most likely a plate full of leafy greens. While lettuce based salads are well and good, there are other forms of “salad” to consider this time of year, like ones consisting entirely of veggies and/or fruit. They’re a great way to utilize the best produce that this season has to offer and can be a great way to boost the nutritional content of your meal (barring they’re not swimming in mayo or sour cream because that kind of negates the “healthy” aspect).

This first recipe utilizes fresh, raw veggies that are tossed in (my take on) creamy Green Goddess dressing and it makes for a great side for a summer gathering. Instead of smothering this dish in a mayo and/or sour cream based dressing, it gets its creaminess from avocados and buttermilk — the latter being much healthier than you might think (one cup contains less than 100 calories and only 2.2 grams of fat). Make the dressing a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to marry and feel free to toss the veggies together with the dressing up to an hour before serving.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Makes 4 servings

2 ears of sweet corn (raw)
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 bell red or orange pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 medium ripe avocado, pitted and diced
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, ribs and seeds removed and minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Shuck the ears of corn, stand them up straight on a cutting board or in a large bowl and shave the kernels off the cob. Combine corn kernels, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in a medium bowl.

To make the dressing, mash up the avocado in a medium bowl and stir in the buttermilk to combine. Stir in the herbs, garlic, jalapeno or serrano, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables, folding it in to combine. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and parsley on top.

This next lettuce-less salad was inspired by my boyfriend. When we first met, he told me about visiting an Italian restaurant in New York one summer ordering a “tomato salad” only to be very disappointed when they served him a, “plate of effing tomatoes” (he was expecting a large mound of lettuce to accompany them). I explained that he shouldn’t have been surprised as he was at an Italian restaurant and tomato salad isn’t an uncommon thing to find at an Italian restaurant during this time of year, and that if the menu didn’t cite what lettuce they were using, then there would most likely be no lettuce served with it. I digress.

After he recounted this story, I began to crave a “plate of effing tomatoes”, thus the following recipe for tomato salad was born. This effing tomato’s for you, Karl.

Marinated Tomato, Herb and Goat Cheese Salad
Makes 4 servings

2 large tomatoes, preferably heirloom or hothouse, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup cherry or teardrop tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the tomatoes on a large plate. Sprinkle the garlic, thyme and scallion on top of tomatoes, then drizzle the vinegar and olive oil over tomatoes. Let marinate in the refrigerator or at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Place tomatoes on individual plates or leave on large plate to serve. Sprinkle goat cheese and tarragon on top, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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