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Cool Salads for Hot Days - Part 1

This is the first installment on how to stay cool in a hot summer kitchen.

Cool Salads for Hot Days - Part 1

If you’re simply beyond hot this week, don’t even think of heating up your kitchen. Pair these cold salads with something from the grill or serve them alone. There is so much great produce available right now so, over the next few weeks, I’ll give you plenty of ways to eat locally and keep cool at the same time. 

Tzatziki

This is the best darn stuff and especially good with the great local cucumbers available now. I can eat it by the bowl, all on it’s own. Serve with kabobs and pita bread that you’ve warmed on the grill.

1 quart unflavored Greek yogurt (whole fat or low-fat, not no-fat)

2 tsp crushed garlic

1 bunch fresh dill

2 fresh cucumbers, 4-6 inches long

1- 1½ tsp salt

If your cukes are from your own garden or a CSA or farmer who doesn’t use herbicides, pesticides, or wax the skins as they do in the grocery store, there is no need to peel them.

Halve the cucumber lengthwise and remove the seeds using a grapefruit spoon. Using a food processor or box grater with the largest holes, grate the cucumber into a colander, let drain thoroughly.

Greek yogurt is less runny than other types (Trader Joe’s has one at a very good price). If you can’t find the Greek variety, drain regular plain yogurt through cheesecloth or a fine sieve for a half hour.

Put yogurt in a large bowl, add garlic. Snip the dill into the yogurt. Squeeze the cucumber to get all the water out, add to yogurt. Add salt to taste, mix well. Refrigerate. 

 

Peanutty Coleslaw

4 cups of cabbage, any color, any kind (about 1 head)

1 large carrot, coarsely grated

½ large onion, finely diced

1 ½ Tablespoon creamy peanut butter

5 Tablespoons oil

½ Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

½  - 1 Tablespoon sugar

3 Tablespoons vinegar

1/3 cup peanuts, plain or lightly salted

Cabbage heads are an exceptionally good value at farmers markets right now. They taste much better than packaged coleslaw and don’t have that strong "cabbagey" taste some kids object to. 

You can use regular green or red cabbage, or even Napa cabbage. One head of cabbage should easily give you 4 cups of grated cabbage. 

Grate cabbage and carrot, using the largest holes on a box grater or food processor. Place in a large bowl and mix in the diced onion. 

In a small bowl mix together the peanut butter and oils. Add the vinegar. You can use seasoned Japanese rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar, or a combination – just don’t use balsamic vinegar! 

Add the sugar to taste. Mix well. 

You’ll notice that the dressing doesn’t separate as most vinegar-and-oil dressings do; the peanut butter acts as an emulsifier. Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss. 

Roughly chop the peanuts and place in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and watch carefully. When the nuts start to brown and you smell that wonderful peanut scent, remove from heat. 

Mix into the slaw and garnish with a few nuts on the top. Eat immediately or refrigerate. Make a lot more than you think you’ll need; this is a very popular salad! 

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