6 summer salads

Cool and crisp, light and fresh. Salad is everything a hot-weather meal needs

By Jane RodmellJane Rodmell

Salads equal eating pleasure, particularly in summer at the cottage. They give us infinite variety—a quick, healthy, easily assembled lunch; a light supper; a side dish for a sandwich or grilled meats. They serve a full-scale dinner party as a starter or a break after the main course. Some salads, especially those with legumes or grains and more robust vegetables, adjust to being made ahead and can be taken to a picnic or a potluck.

When creating a tasty salad, choose the freshest in-season vegetables you can find. Keep a selection of quality oils (extra-virgin olive, vegetable, sesame, and nut oils) and vinegars (red and white wine, rice, balsamic) in your pantry so that you can quickly whisk up a variety of simple vinaigrettes. But do keep the flavour uncluttered: Sweet, ripe tomatoes, for example, are sensational with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a garnish of slivered fresh basil.

Add dressing a little at a time, then toss, taste, and add more as needed. Some salads can be made ahead, but you’ll need to taste and adjust the seasoning, as well as add any leafy greens, just before serving. A final garnish of fresh herbs (my favourites include flat-leaf parsley, basil, chives, chervil, and dill) adds incomparable flavour.

Always remember that with salads, almost anything goes. Sometimes the best happen when you open the refrigerator door, take a look inside, and start putting a few good things together.

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Jane Rodmell