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Monday, July 14, 2008

What Are "Salad Days" Anyway?

Some things are just stupid easy. You know, things you almost have to be stupid to be able to do.

I'm talking about recipes (again). I have a few that I either found or made up that make a dish that is totally delish, but that require so little thought or effort to prepare, it's like cheating.

I fell in love with grape tomatoes the minute I saw them. They're tasty and they're cuter than regular cherry tomatoes. At least I think so. Trouble is around here they go on sale where you have to buy two containers and I sometimes can't eat them fast enough. Sharing is one option. Long lasting salads is another.

I don't know where I got the idea for this salad or if I just made it up. But it's really good, with or without the vodka, and it lasts a long time. I think the dressing preserves the tomatoes. I mean, hey, they're soaking in BOOZE! Stupid!

Grape Tomato Salad

Slice one container of grape tomatoes in half on the diagonal (looks prettier).
Slice a medium sweet onion thinly. Cut it in half first so the slices will be bite sized.

Toss these together in a bowl with a good splash of balsamic or wine vinegar, hefty pinches of salt and pepper, basil and oregano and any other herbs of your choice, and a good glug of olive oil. Optional, add a splash of vodka just for fun. You can add a tiny bit of sugar for a little extra sweetness. Let this marinate overnight in the fridge and serve cold or at room temperature.

I take this with me in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. It's tasty with a sandwich or just about anything and the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar complements the sweetness of the tomatoes. The vodka is just cuz' I like it.

Here's another salad that was inspired by seeing Alice Waters on a cooking show with Julia Child. They included sliced raw mushrooms in their salad but I left them out because I don't like them. I also altered the recipe radically because I did not write it down and by now I make it quite different from the way I first saw it. If you like fennel, you will like this. And it stays fresh and crunchy for a long time. Just as easy, but you need an extra piece of equipment for this one.

Fennel Onion Salad

Shred paper thin with a mandolin or food processor one bulb of fennel and one good sized sweet onion. Optional - add carrots also sliced paper thin, and sliced mushrooms.

Whisk in a bowl balsamic or wine vinegar, salt and pepper, a dab of spicy mustard and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice (or even orange or grapefruit). Add hefty pinches of herbs of your choice (herbes de Provence would be good) and some ground cumin. A little good quality olive oil and that's it. Add the sliced veg, toss well and serve.

I don't have a mandolin although I would like one. Instead I have this silly thing that came free with something I bought from a catalog. You must have seen one somewhere. It's a long, narrow plastic box, about 3 1/2 by 10 inches. It has a top that will accept an assortment of slicing blades. The one I use most often is the regular slicer (sometimes I use the grater for grating a lot of cheese). This slicing blade makes slices of carrot, fennel, onion and potato that you can almost read through.

When you're done, you just pile all the blades back into the box and pop on the top. It was free and it works. What's not to like?

Anyway, I like these two salads because I can practically make them in my sleep and except for the mandolin, I only have to wash a knife and a bowl. And if I make them in the plastic storage bowl, I don't even have to wash that until the salad is gone.

Easy. Stupid easy!

Quotable Quotes; in the category Wait . . . What?

“We became vegetarian. But that didn't last very long, because, um, I don't like vegetables. Or salad, nothing like that!”
Dakota Fanning

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