At the height of summer, the glut of spectacular tomatoes can be almost overwhelming. Even after tomatoes with olive oil and salt, pan con tomate, goose-bump inducing BLTs, panzanella, and gazpacho, there are still tomatoes demanding to be be used, and getting old and mushy. This pasta salad takes advantage of both fully ripe tomatoes, in pieces, and somewhat overripe tomatoes, as a bright salsa-style vinaigrette. It would be good with fresh mozarella or capers, or just as it is. We make it a little bit spicy, but suit yourself.
It’s a truth generally acknowledged, that any fruit is improved with chili, salt and lime juice. Whether you’re eating green mango and cucumber in Thailand, or papaya and pineapple in Los Angeles, that trinity of seasonings brings out sweetness and flavour from the fruit. This salad is a hybrid of that ubiquitous summer street vendor fruit, with Egyptian watermelon and feta salad, and made a bit heartier with a few North African favours. It’s pretty much a recipe without a recipe, so tweak it as you see fit, on a hot summer day when you don’t feel like cooking.
Tabouli (or tabbouleh) is one of the quickest, most versatile salads you can make, and is based on a few simple ingredients. It’s a visceral pleasure to prepare, because your fingers and hands will end up covered in fragrant parsley, mint, lemon and olive oil before you’re done. The process of chopping, mixing, and smelling (and tasting) is almost more satisying the serving the final salad. It can be served as a bright summer salad on its own, or as an accompaniment to grilled meat and kebab, almost like chimichurri. It can be made with couscous or bulgur; grain free; or you can substitute in quinoa, or even white beans or lentils. Just make sure to use plenty of mint, lemon, and olive oil.
Salads of blanched bean sprouts with sesame are very common side dishes in Japanese (called moyashi no goma ae) and Korean food (called sukju namul). This salad is extremely simple to make, versatile, and works well with almost any combination of Chinese, Korean or Japanese food. In particular, the most simple version works as a counterbalance to strong and spicy Korean or Chinese dishes. The soft nuttiness of sesame, and the gentle crunch of blanched bean sprouts work well together.
Black vinegar cabbage is ridiculously simple, and ridiculously good. It’s little more than cabbage, vinegar and oil — but the texture of the tender-cooked leaves and fragrance of the vinegar combine to make a mouth watering side dish. We get it almost every time we go to a Chinese restaurant, and make it almost every time we cook Chinese food.
This simple salad always garners raves, and is a staple side dish in the Normandie house. Liang ban (涼拌) are literally just cool salads, vegetable or meat — with ingredients such as cucumber or chicken. This recipe has chili, as you’d expect from Yunnanese food. The combination of chewy and crunchy textures; and hot, salty, and sour flavours are irresistable. Yunnanese food isn’t as familiar in North America as the sweeter, more delicate, Cantonese-inspired Chinese food. It is often spicy and intense flavoured, and reflects the ethnically diversity of its province.
This is one of my trifecta of dips for a Middle Eastern spread, along with lemon-cumin carrot salad, and beet-yogurt salad. It also works well with Indian food (though it’s chunkier and thicker than a traditional raita); or even Balkan and Russian food—I usually serve broth-boiled cabbage rolls or borek with this sauce, for instance. It was a staple of summer in Australia for me, on recovery day after a night of partying, with a light Lebanese-style selection of nibblies.
This is a simple, versatile salad that looks striking and is more delicious than you’d imagine, just reading the ingredients—sweet, tangy, slightly crunchy, and oily. It takes less than 20 minutes to make, and pairs well with almost anything. I learned it from a Romanian friend while in Japan, but I think variations of it are common across Eastern Europe.
This is one of my favourite all-time dishes. It’s sweet, and rich, and almost sparkles on the tongue. Despite its simplicity, it tastes complex, and is more than the sum of its ingredients. Usually people ask me if it has honey in it—there is alchemy between the carrot and the lemon. Lemon-cumin carrot salad is nominally Turkish, but it works well in pretty much any Mediterranean meal, or tapas style or buffet spread. It’s not really a salad, but one of those things we don’t really have a word for in English, somewhere between a dip, and a salad.