A trio of fresh salads, featuring the stars of the late-summer garden
Growing up, no summer meal was complete without my mom’s depression-era green glass bowl full of creamy cucumber salad. Soon fresh corn salad would join in, then a vat of tomatoes and sweet onions. My dad was (and is) an amazing gardener, but his garden couldn’t compete with the produce from our neighbor’s field.
Mr. Miner was a magical, grandfatherly man who was often seen driving his tractor in rainbow suspenders and sun hat. He would welcome all the neighborhood kids into his field and fruit trees. We would tiptoe down the rows of corn, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and berries — eating our fill and returning to our parents with our arms heavy with produce. To this day, I can’t eat fresh corn without thinking of Mr. Miner teaching me how to harvest ripe corn. (And, of course, enjoy it raw, while standing in the field.)
These salads are inspired by those summer days — not only are they fresh and kid-friendly, but they can also be made in the cool of the morning and enjoyed in the evening heat.
Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad
This salad improves with rest, on the counter (not fridge) before serving. I like to soak up the leftover tomato-y dressing with toast. A handful of torn basil leaves is a great addition to the salad.
4 large tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup sliced sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Combine tomatoes and onions in a serving bowl.
2. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Toss dressing with the salad.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
This is my mom’s recipe, who learned it from her family. It’s a great recipe to use up those too big, overgrown cucumbers. It’s also a perfect make-ahead salad, as it only gets better the longer it rests.
2 large cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and thinly sliced
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup sour cream (or a bit more if you want it creamier)
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1. Place sliced cucumbers in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let rest for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture.
2. Mix cucumbers with the rest of the ingredients. Best served cold.
Fresh Corn Salad
I use super fresh corn for this salad — liked picked that day (or hour if you can!). If your corn is of unknown age, cook the cobs in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. You can also cut the corn off the cob and saute it over high heat in a bit of olive oil for a minute or two.
4 ears of corn, corn kernels cut off the cob
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
Salt to taste
1. Toss all ingredients together. Serve or let rest in the refrigerator.