It’s hot where I live. We completely skipped spring and went right to slick with sweat hair, back of your legs sticking to the car seat, panting like an overworked mule summer hot. Now, I have mentioned that BBQ should be easy, but in my haste for ease, I neglected a very important component of the summer picnic—salads!
So, to make up for my slipshoddy vegetable work, I bring you two salads: one rather last-minute easy and one more of a plan a few days ahead if you want to be a Martha Stewart salad maker. You can find the originals on epicurious.com. The recipes below are pretty faithful, but with a few alterations.
Asparagus Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinegar
The original on epicurious.com
- ⅓ C balsamic vinegar
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 1 T chopped fresh marjoram
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut on diagonal into 2-inch pieces
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced (upon second making, I roasted the pepper and it was much nicer… if you don’t like peppers, try fresh tomato)
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Large shavings of Parmesan cheese
Boil vinegar in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Pour vinegar into large bowl. Whisk in oil, mustard, marjoram, and garlic. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Steam asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Submerge in cold water immediately to stop the cooking. Then, drain and place on paper towels so they don’t get mushy. Add asparagus and bell pepper to dressing; toss to blend well. Sprinkle with pecans and Parm shavings. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.
So, this is the easy one. Completely tasty, especially when you use in-season asparagus (so spring). I wasn’t such a fan of the crispy peppers, but fresh tomato or roasted pepper is much tastier. The dressing is really very versatile and can be reused for other salads or as a sauce on chicken.
Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Salad
And, again, the original can be found on epicurious.com.
- 6 T distilled white vinegar
- 4 t coarse kosher salt
- 3 medium cumbers (about 2 lbs), very thinly sliced
- ½ C plus 3 T chopped fresh dill
- 3¼ lbs new red potatoes, unpeeled
- Additional coarse kosher salt
- 1 C very thinly sliced white onion
- 8 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
- ½ C mayonnaise
- ¼ C plain yogurt
Stir vinegar and 4 teaspoons coarse salt in small bowl until salt dissolves. Place cucumbers and ½ C dill in heavy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add vinegar mixture; seal bag. Turn several times to coat. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.
Pour cucumber mixture into large sieve set over bowl. Drain at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Save some of the brine for later in the recipe.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain. Cut potatoes into potato salad-size chunks. I peeled some and left some with peels on just for the color (and I’m lazy). Place potatoes in large bowl; sprinkle generously with pepper. Add a few spoonfuls of the brine as the potatoes cool. Allow them to cool completely.
Add drained cucumbers, onion, sliced radishes, and remaining 3 T dill; toss to blend. Let stand at least 1 hour. Stir mayonnaise and yogurt into salad. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. (Salad is best made a day ahead and then refrigerated.)
Pretty yummy (especially if you’re a lover of salt like I am). The brined cucumbers would probably be good on their own. And, this is similar to a cucumber with sour cream and dill recipe that has been in my family for years. But the cucumbers are brinier, I think. Anyway, worth the effort.