Although San Franciscans are largely deprived of good summer weather (as I write this, our heat is on and I'm wearing wool socks), we do enjoy good summer produce. Scratch that: we enjoy great summer produce. The vibrant shades of red, yellow, and green that have been appearing in our produce box recently have put me in a salad kind of mood.
The fact that these salads often accompany wintery dishes doesn't bother me. Last week I made a cheery tomato and cucumber salad to go alongside a roasted pork loin and creamy grits. The salad provided a dash of brightness to an otherwise muted palette.
To everyone's delight, over the weekend, we had one day of startling heat, up into the 90s. We'd invited our friend Alby over for dinner and I was a bit undecided on what to make. Most of what I cook is rather cozy, since the weather year-round allows for it. On the few hot days we enjoy each year, I never know what to make; apparently my cooking style is very reliant on the oven, as well as on boiling pots of pasta water. Our infrequent heat waves shed light on why people in other parts of the country (and state) grill during the summertime.
Unfortunately, we have no grill and a backyard that is tough to get to anyway--you must go down some rickety stairs and through the garage, shimmying by the cars parked tandem-style. It's not conducive to a laid-back BBQ. So I decided to make one of my go-to company dishes, chicken roasted with cherry tomatoes, honey, and rosemary.
This dish requires the oven for about half an hour. I figured I should do everyone a favor and minimize the heat for everything else I was going to make.
Using a vegetable peeler, I made ribbons out of zucchini and yellow squash, tossed them with a bit of salt, then set them in a colander to drain for about 5 minutes. Then I rinsed and dried them gently in a kitchen towel.
I composed a dressing of rice vinegar, canola oil, lemon juice, dijon, sugar, salt and pepper. Then I tossed the squash with the dressing, throwing in some lemon cucumbers and chives.
The result was a very pretty and refreshing salad, if I do say so myself, and a hit at the dinner table. And to my surprise the leftovers survived a night in the fridge and were a good accompaniment to our sandwiches the next day for lunch (fried egg for the husband, roast pork for me). I suggest you try a little zucchini ribbon salad for yourself, while the vegetable is in season and some people's gardens overflow with it. It was quite delicious.