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November 2021

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By Elizabeth Brunazzi


I think of salad making as an art, and perhaps a form of magic, something like being able to produce “stone soup.” The aces of salad making I have had the privilege of knowing throughout my life seem to concoct a scrumptious salad from almost anything they have on hand—never fails.


There is always an improvised, inventive side to good salad making, by my lights, and the dressing is the final key ingredient. The following recipes are suggestions and starting points, and as always, an invitation to create a personal version, to vary them according to taste as well as the season, the weather, and the occasion.


I hope some or all of them will appeal to different tastes and ages. Is it fair to say that children are not always easy to please in the category of vegetables and salads? My list emphasizes some hardy vegetables and legumes rather than the worlds of leafy lettuces. I appreciate more and more the inclusion of fruits (fresh or dried), nuts and seeds, and smatterings of cheeses combined with limited proportions of leafy vegetables. I have also included fruit salads in several versions, and several versatile recipes for dressings. Some of my sources are regional and international: in particular, the southern and western US, France, and Italy.


Enjoy! Buen Apetito. Bon Appétit. Buon Appetito.



Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Garlic and Shallots

(serves 4)
Dressing Ingredients
1 T sherry wine vinegar (or red balsamic vinegar)
Coarse sea salt to taste
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced

Whisk the vinegar and salt together. Set aside. In another bowl combine oil, garlic and shallots. Set aside for one hour.

Main Ingredients
2 firm medium ripe tomatoes (preferably plum or Roma)
2 T coarse sea salt to taste
1 lb young, tender fresh green beans (small, thin French-style Haricots Verts if you can get them)
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped

Core, peel, and seed the tomatoes. Place in a fine-mesh sieve and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Set aside to drain.
Rinse the beans thoroughly and trim ends. Cut into 1-inch lengths.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water.


Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining salt and the beans. Cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Immediately drain the beans and plunge them into the ice water to cool as soon as possible. Drain the beans and wrap in a thick dish towel to dry.


Combine the vinegar and oil mixtures, stir to blend, and taste for seasoning. Transfer the beans to a bowl, pour the dressing over the beans, and toss to coat evenly. Add the tomatoes and parsley, and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.


Adapted from Simply French: Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joël Robuchon, 1991



Mexican Black Bean and Corn Salad


Ingredients
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed, or dried beans soaked overnight
1-1/2 c corn kernels, prefer fresh, cut from the cob, or frozen
1/4 c red onion minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado peeled and diced (pit removed)
1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, then minced
1/3 c cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
Salt and pepper to taste


Place the black beans, corn, red onion, red bell pepper, avocado and jalapeño in a large bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over beans and vegetables, and serve immediately.


Adapted from a recipe published by America’s Test Kitchen, courtesy of Pam Oestreicher


Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette


Ingredients
8 c curly green kale, 1/2 inch slices
1 c baby tomatoes, halved
1/2 c sliced almonds
2 T parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Dressing Ingredients
2 t lemon zest, about one lemon
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t kosher or coarse Mediterrenean sea salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t Italian seasonings (dried or fresh basil or Herbes de Provence)
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil


Cut the leaves off the tough kale stems. Briefly massage the leaves. Slice into 1/2 -inch thick pieces. Rinse under cool water and dry.


In a large bowl, add the kale, tomatoes, almonds, and parmesan cheese.


In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, mustard, pepper, and aromatic herbs and seasonings.


Slowly drizzle the olive oil and whisk until it becomes a lightly thickened, emulsified dressing. Season to taste.
To serve: To the large bowl with the kale salad, add 1/4 cup of the dressing. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with sliced almonds, parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with an extra dressing on the side.


Broccoli Salad*


Ingredients
3 quarts water, divided into 3 single quarts
4 c ice cubes
1 t kosher salt
1 lb broccoli florets cut into 1-inch pieces, about 6 cups
2 slices uncooked bacon, thick cut
1/3 c dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/3 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c red onion. 1/4-inch dice
2 oz sharp cheddar, 1/4-inch cubes, about 1/2 cup diced


Dressing Ingredients
1/2 c nonfat Greek yogurt
2 T mayonnaise
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T honey (optional)
1 T water
1 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 t black pepper


In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp salt, stir to dissolve.


In a medium bowl, add 1 quart of cold water and 4 cups of ice. Set aside to use as an ice water bath.


Add broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender but not too soft, about 1 to 2 minutes.


Immediately transfer the drained broccoli to the ice water bath until cool, about five minutes. Drain the broccoli florets in a colander, shake to remove the excess water. Set aside.


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon slices and cook until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined sheet pan to drain. Once cooled, chop into small pieces. Yield about 1/4 cup.


In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, optional honey, water, Dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Drizzle half the salad dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine, Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remaining dressing can be served on the side or stored for future use.


*This recipe can be varied without sacrifice of flavor, depending on taste, preferences and/or food restrictions. For example, the honey, sunflower seeds, and bacon can be eliminated; and another cheese can be substituted for the cheddar.



Arugula Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Basil


Ingredients
1/4 c piñons or pine nuts
2 T champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 t kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 t black pepper
4-5 oz baby arugula, about 2-3 cups
2 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into quarter-inch slices
1/2 c julienned (thin strips) fresh basil leaves.
2 oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled, about 1/2 cup, plus more to taste


In a small sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.


In a small liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Pour just enough dressing over the greens to moisten and toss to coat. Add the peaches, basil, goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts and toss to coat. Add more goat cheese and dressing if desired. Toss gently and serve immediately.


Recipe courtesy of my sister, Cecilia Deaglio-Brunazzi.

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