It’s finally salad season, and lately we’ve been having at least a salad a day, sometimes more. We never have just a salad for a meal, though; it’s always a “nice” salad. (At this time of year, though, with good produce coming in from the garden and at the farmer’s market, the salads actually are nice, and don’t require any adjectival propping up.)
You don’t really need recipes to make basic salad meals, of course, but sometimes you want something different. I found the perfect cookbook for experimenting with salads in all seasons — Salad of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year by Georgeanne Brennan.
It is laid out by the calendar – starting with Fennel Salad with Blood Oranges & Arugula for January 1st, and ending with Arugula Salad with Quince Paste & Serrano Ham on December 31. These recipes both happen to have arugula in the name, but arugula is not listed in the Salads by Ingredient index at the end, so I can’t tell you what the odds are of that. (However, I can tell you that this book doesn’t have a great index.) In case any other indexing nerds are reading this, there is also a Salads by Type index (e.g. Seafood Salads, Bean & Grain Salads, etc.) at the very end of the book.
Salad of the Day has a page of two recipes, a full-page color photo of one of the salads, and then a two-page spread of four recipes, so you never go more than six recipes without a gorgeous, mouthwatering photo. It’s easy and pleasant to flip through the book and find recipes suitable to the time of year. (If you share seasons with the U.S., that is.) Some of the recipes are for side dishes, but many are a meal in themselves. The print is small, in order to fit 365 recipes and all those photos into a 304-page book. I kept having to put my reading glasses on to make sure I was reading the fractional measurements correctly and not seeing 2/3 as 1/3, for example, which I usually was. (This may not be an issue for you. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the print was small, myself, a few years ago!)
Each recipe comes with an introductory paragraph, providing serving suggestions or notes on the ingredients. For example, here’s the paragraph introducing July 12th’s recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Cucumber Salad:
Slender, dark green English cucumbers, also called hothouse cucumbers, are a good choice for this classic Asian salad. They have thin peels and fewer and softer seeds than other varieties.
I made the June 29th recipe, Black Bean & White Corn Salad, to take to a Fourth of July cookout. I have made similar salads before, but this was the first one I’ve tried that called for cooking the onions and red pepper, and I liked it.
Black Bean & White Corn Salad
2 tsp. canola oil
2/3 cup (4 oz./125 g) chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) chopped red onion
1/2 can (8 oz./250 g) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (6 oz./185 g) fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 1 ear of corn)
1 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving (optional)
1/3 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and saute until the juices from the bell pepper moisten the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the beans, corn, and chili powder. Cook until the beans and corn are heated through, about 3 minutes. The beans and corn will be just crisp-tender. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Toss well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Line a platter with lettuce leaves, if using [I didn’t], and spoon the beans and corn on top. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Having peaches on hand the same week, I also made the balsamic peaches from the June 18th recipe, Peach, Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad. (There’s arugula again!) I didn’t have arugula or goat cheese, so we just had the peaches (sprinkled with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and then grilled and drizzled with the balsamic vinegar reduction) as a side dish. Delicious!
Salad of the Day is published for Williams-Sonoma, so the author’s personality doesn’t really come through here, but as author Georgeanne Brennan divides her time between northern California and Provence, she presumably has access to exceptional produce year-round. She has a sporadically updated blog and is also the author of A Pig in Provence, a memoir about moving to Provence in the 70s.
Happy Weekend Cooking!
Salad of the Day
Weldon Owen, 2012
(Not really a) Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my public library, but I might buy it!