Summer Salad Redux

Innovative interpretations of the classic side dishes of summer!


You can write a book about what to cook during the summer time, and I almost complete an entire cookbook each season, but sometimes I’m in such a rush to make the great dishes that i love that I , almost, forget to cover the basics. With just a few weeks left of summer, but months left for farm fresh veggies and grilling, today I want to turn my attention to some of the classics, and look for interesting new riffs on the classic pasta salads, coleslaw, potato salad, grilled veggies, and abundant tomatoes that are staple on some patios this time of year.
While your old tried and true versions of the classic dishes are no doubt delicious. I mean you are making them over, and over, and over again, there is always room for some innovation and to allow some creativity to creep in to our culinary world. So let’s get inspired by these creative recipes. Not everyone is sure to be a winner, but as a group, it’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Not to mention your mouth watering. So what will you be preparing this weekend??

Thai Noodle Salad

Replace that plain old pasta salad with this exciting Thai version. Don’t worry about the ingredient list, it’s duplicated on our site and a quick click through to the original site will show you how easy it is to bring together the classic spicy and fresh flavors of the thai table. I love the crunch that comes from the cabbage in this dish, which is akin to the crunchy veggies we usually find in our pasta salads, though we are saved from the ubiquitous green bell peppers which always like to remind us that we have partaken of them!
Rose or Riesling, both are terrific options here, though the spicy you make this dish the more likely it is to pair well with a wine that has a suggestions of sweetness. Great Rieslings tend to be terrific values, and have the blend of acid and sugar that excites the palate.
Two to try:

Fennel and Carrot Slaw

Don’t get me wrong, I love coleslaw. In fact I love cabbage so even a nice dressed cabbage salad hits the spot for me but today isn’t all about me. it’s about trying new things and this fennel and carrot slaw sounds like something I might want to try. Did I just make it about me again?  Spicy, sweet, and tart with the flavors of green olives accenting the fresh, raw veggies. this is both complex and refreshing on the palate and would be a wonderful accompaniment to grilled seafood and spicy pork dishes.
This is a challenging recipe to pair with wine so my advice would be to pair your main dish with the wine or else just try and pair the two most assertive flavors here: green olive and fennel. That sounds like southern Italian white wine to be, though Sauvignon Blanc could fit in here as well. That being said I’m sticking with Italy and suggesting a nice Falanghina, with it’s floral and sweetly fruity aromatics and nice, crisp mouthfeel it’s a perfect partner for the complex flavors of this slaw.
Two to try:

Caesar Potato Salad

Unbeknownst to me I made a version of this slad early in the season. I visit to the farmer’s market yielded a limited hall of potatoes, sugar snaps, and green onions. I started out making a simple salad out of the ingredients, and that left me flat so i had to amp things up a bit. Instead of a true ceasar I created a Spanish style dressing rich with the flavors of garlic, pimenton, and anchovies.  Punctuated by the sweet pops of the peas, it was a fabulous salad, and this version looks equally enticing.
This is a very friendly salad. It will work well alongside just about any meat and once you’ve gotten past the acidic flavor profile you’ll find it works surprisingly well with a broad range of wines. I am most likely to serves this with a spicy grilled chicken dish and as such would be looking for a refreshing white wine with some weight and substance to it. This is a great time to try out some of the better Pinot Gris/Grigios on the market and a new world style would have the weight I’m looking for.
Two to try:

Tomato 'Confit'

If you’re like me you are swimming in tomatoes right about now. I’ve got yellow tomatoes ripening on the window sill and Greek salad, gazpacho, and ratatouille in the fridge, all made with this week’s haul of tomatoes. As you know there is only so much we can do with fresh tomatoes. one of the best option is we have to reduce the size of the haul is to reduce the size of the haul! Roast em slowly, they dehydrate and are easier to store but at the same time you’ve created an amazing tomato condiment!
I love these dried tomatoes chopped up as a quick sauce or salsa, they are great added to salads and soups with their dried fruit flavors and bright acids that have been concentrated in the fruit. For a real treat chop these up or puree them and use them on grilled pizzas with fresh mozzarella and basil. Outrageous! These concentrated packet of tomato flavor work well with the usual tomato friendly wines. Think Chianti and Barbera, but since they are roasted some bigger wines, from Puglia for example, really work well. Still, it’s hot out so i want something fresh and refreshing so barbera it is for me!
Two to try:

Quinoa and Avocado Salad

OK folks. Like I said this isn’t about me. This is not a salad that I would intuitively toss together. And yet, there is something interesting going on here to be sure. Sweet and lightly spicy, it’s not something I would pair with avocados, though i do love me some avocado. I think there should be perhaps more acid here, but as a side dish to, say Tandoori chicken or spicy grilled pork with Middle Eastern or North African flavors. 
There's a lots of spice and sweetness going on with this dish, which makes it challenging to pair with wine, though there is the obvious choice. You always reach for Gewurztraminer in these situations and while I don’t always agree in this case it’s a natural. Spicy, a little sweet, and with soft acids, it can be a fabulous pairing with this style of salad.
Two to try:
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