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Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer and salads

 With the end of summer now upon us (well, most places except Texas), I am reluctant to give up the salads I love better than the hot soup of cooler evenings--chicken, tuna, ham or egg salads.
Prowling in some old recipes recently, I found salads and salad combinations I haven’t made in a while. They’re a twist on move conventional salads, and now they've moved to the top of my cooking list..

One recipe calls for squatty wide-mouth Mason jars that you layer with salads—trouble is I never found enough of the right jars—need at least four because these are salads for sharing. I try to artfully (?) arrange the ingredients on a plate. A combination I really love: smoked salmon with egg salad and green beans:

Cook ½ lb. haricot verts until tender crisp and cool. Cut into bite-size pieces. Whisk together a dressing of 1 Tbsp. each Dijon mustard and chopped shallot, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and toss with beans. Layer them in the bottom of the jar. Top with layers of smoked salmon, again cut into bite-size pieces. Top that with egg salad made the way you like it best—I like a little celery and scallion, some Dijon and just enough mayonnaise to hold it together. (Tired of salads that are soupy from too much mayo.)

Another layered idea: Tuna tonnato with eggplant salad and cherry tomatoes. Tonnato is something that confuses many people but it’s so good—and easy.
Blend ¼ c. tuna with 1 large anchovy fillet or a good-sized squirt of anchovy paste (it keeps in the fridge—if you open the whole can of anchovies, what do you do with the rest?), 2 tsp. capers, juice of half a lemon, a bit of olive oil and a bit of mayo. Blend into smooth paste.

For the eggplant: pulse eggplant, roasted until soft, with 1 chopped garlic clove, a handful of parsley, grated zest of one lemon, and a tsp of red wine vinegar.

In jars, layer eggplant, 2 cans tuna minus what you used for tonnato (I prefer albacore packed in water), top with tonnato, halved cherry tomatoes, and croutons. Drizzle olive oil over all of it.

And then there’s plain tuna salad. How do you make yours? I use scallions, lemon, and mayo—plain and simple. But I found a recipe that adds a cup of shredded cheddar to one can of tuna, 1 stalk celery, chopped, a bit of chopped parsley, a good dollop of sour cream. Different and good. Maybe that’s my lunch today…or egg salad.

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