Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer of Salad: Days Three and Four

The salads continue, even if I fail to document them — or really anything at all since Thursday. Not sure why, exactly, I’m wanting to focus my energies elsewhere, but let’s hope it’s a phase that soon passes.

I went home last weekend, and the night before I left I made the third salad from the New York Times list. Here’s how the article describes it:
Shred Napa cabbage and radishes. The dressing is roasted peanuts, lime juice, peanut or other oil, cilantro and fresh or dried chili, all whizzed in a blender. Deliciousness belies ease.
Here’s how I describe it: orange glop oozing over two different kinds of pungent, bitter vegetables. I thought somehow the dressing ingredients would combine to balance out the rather strong flavors of cabbage and radish, but my dressing was overpowered. As with any recipe I prepare, there’s no telling whether it’s bad by design or just a victim of my own culinary ineptness. Additionally, the end result was such an aesthetic crime that I didn’t bother to photograph it.

On the other hand, I had resounding success with my solo take on the first salad on the list, which also happens to be the first one I made. (Full admission: I had an advisor on that initial go-around, so this time counts more.) The recipe:
Cube watermelon and combine with tomato chunks, basil and basic vinaigrette. You can substitute peach for the watermelon or the tomato (but not both, O.K.?). You can also add bacon or feta, but there goes the vegan-ness.
During both preparations, I stuck with the original recipe. The notion of putting watermelon in a salad was too exciting to pass up. What’s more, the end result made me realize how much I underestimate the ability of fruit to function in savory dishes. When it comes down to it, watermelon isn’t all that different than tomato — a little softer and sweeter, but, in my estimation, possibly able to do a lot of what tomatoes do. Someone more talented should look into it.

While I was home, I made the tomato-watermelon salad for my family. I expected a mixed reaction, but it went over well. No one spat it across the table and some even said they liked it. So I guess if every other salad on this list turned out to be a dud — whether as a result of it being a bad idea to begin with or me just being a total suck in the kitchen — I at least have this under my belt now: a boneheadedly easy recipe that I honestly can’t imagine anyone disliking.

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