“Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way with Vegetables”
Fifteen years as savory chef of New York’s famous City Bakery plus five as chef/co-owner of a Brooklyn specialty grocery shop gave Ilene Rosen all the experience necessary to author this cookbook. And our July heat makes her food just what we need to eat.
“Summer,” writes Rosen, “is a barrage of multicolored goodness, everything at its peak. Heaps of fruits and vegetables — a spontaneous still life yielding simple, bright meals.”
The directions for creating a “saladish” are basic: “start with the best, play with contrasting textures and flavors, experiment with dressing, pay attention to seasoning, add an element of surprise.”
Try the cucumber salad below, then move right along to tomato wedges combined with bok choy and onions piquant from citrus or new potatoes paired with cukes and caraway. The “really yellow” deconstructed egg salad will probably become your favorite Sunday supper; the watermelon with chrysanthemum and shiso your favorite summer snack. The possibilities are endless.
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Cucumbers with Black Sesame Seeds and Sweet Lime Vinegar
Bright, refreshing, sweet, and tangy, these cucumbers work just as well next to (or inside) a hearty winter sandwich as they do at a summer barbecue.
Any leftover cucumbers will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator, but they will continue to give off liquid; just drain it off and add another squeeze of fresh lime juice before serving.
1½ pounds English (seedless) cucumbers, sliced about 1⁄8 inch thick
1⁄4 cup Sweet Lime Vinegar (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
1. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with salt, spread them out in a large colander, set it in a large bowl or the sink, and let drain for 30 minutes.
2. Press down on the cucumbers to release as much liquid as you can, then blot them very dry and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the lime vinegar and most of the sesame seeds, reserving some for garnish. Toss to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve. They can remain in the fridge for 2 days or longer.
3. When ready to serve, using a slotted spoon, transfer the cucumbers to a serving bowl; discard the liquid. Add the lime juice and tarragon, toss to combine, and use a fork to separate the cucumbers. Scatter the reserved sesame seeds over the top and serve.
Sweet Lime Vinegar
Makes about ¾ cup
1⁄2 cup rice vinegar
1⁄2 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
1. Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly syrupy.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest and half of the juice. Cool enough to taste, then check for limey-ness, adding more juice if necessary. Cool completely before using. The vinegar can be kept for 2 weeks or longer in the fridge.
Excerpted from "Saladish" by Ilene Rosen (Artisan Books).