The Anything Summer Salad

If summer is winding down, no one told the farmer’s market. Or your friend’s garden. It’s that time of year where fresh fruits and veggies are exploding and inescapable. The kitchen in your office likely has a basket of tomatoes and peppers that someone brought in because they can’t eat another one. And the farmer at the market is basically giving sweet corn away for 25 cents a piece. This recipe can use up any of that late-summer harvest that’s insisting on being eaten. It takes almost no hands on time to prepare, and you’ll look like a real gourmand bringing this to all the upcoming (Sigh, RIP Summer) Labor Day barbeques—if you manage to stop eating it long enough to share it.

You’ll need:

3 of any kind of late-summer produce. I like corn, eggplant (I like the skinny ones), and summer squash, but you could get crazy and also do cucumbers or potatoes.

Red wine vinegar

1 pint cherry tomatoes, or 3 medium tomatoes

Salt and Pepper

Handful of fresh, chopped mint

Handful of fresh, chopped basil

Two handfuls of toasted pistachios, chopped (about ½ c)

Olive oil

Parmesan Cheese or Nutritional Yeast

Depending on what you are using as your base, you’ll start things a little differently:

Corn: Just slice it off the ear. It’s so tasty raw.

Summer squash: Slice as thinly as you can. Also salt the bejesus out of it and let it sit for 30 minutes. Pat dry.

Eggplant: Slice in half, salt the bejesus out of it and put it in a colander for at least 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Longer if you have the time. Brush with olive oil and throw on the grill for 10, or in your oven at 400 for 20. Chop into cubes.

Potatoes: Boil them whole until the tip of a knife can be inserted without any resistance. Cool completely, then cut into cubes.

Cukes: Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, slice thinly, salt with about 1 ½ tsp salt. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Pat dry.

From there, toss whatever veggie you chose into a big bowl with about ¼ c red wine vinegar. You may need more later, but that’s a good start. Let your veggies soak up the goodness. Salt and pepper generously, UNLESS you are using cucumbers as your base. Those already have all the salt they’ll need.

Meanwhile, cut your cherry tomatoes in half, or chop up your whole tomatoes into nice chunks. Add them to the bowl. Sprinkle another pinch of salt on the tomatoes.

Add about a ½ c of olive oil. I typically do a little less, because I love vinegar don’t want to dampen the acidity. I just count to about “six Mississippi” and that’s my zone. You might be different. Drizzle some on, taste, and see what you like. It should taste bright, but not so acidic that it makes your nose start to beat with tiny bits of sweat.

Toss in the handfuls of herbs, the pistachios, and sprinkle with grated parm or nutritional yeast. If you taste it again and you think, “Meh” and do a little shoulder shrug, add more salt. Taste it again. If you still feel that way, add a splash more vinegar. If you’ve gone too far and it socks you in that sour spot on your jaw, add more oil. When this salad is balanced, it should make your eyes dilate it’s so good.

Serve with anything or just eat it on its own.

Allergens: Nightshades, Nuts

Inspired by: Joshua McFadden’s "Six Seasons"