Salads That Won't Poison You!
Even if you bring them on a picnic or leave them on your patio for hours.
WITH ALL THE THINGS that could happen on a daily basis, I marvel that some of you are still worried about poisoning yourself with food. I’m not downplaying your pain if you’ve done this. I’ve had food poisoning (from a prepackaged noodle dish I bought at an Upper West Side health food store in 1992). Along with visiting Six Flags, it is something I won’t forget mainly because I never, ever want to do it again.
But let me remind us all of one small comfort: Just because it feels like we’re living in medieval England lately doesn’t mean that our food-safety issues are on par.
Obviously, I’m talking about mayonnaise. If people hear even a rumor of food-related illnesses, they will narrow their eyes at this innocent mixture of egg, oil, vinegar and maybe a little mustard. This is largely wrongheaded, unless you’re making it at home and accidentally leaving it on the counter overnight. Because the idea that commercial mayo is somehow a disaster waiting to happen has long been debunked. In fact, you don’t even have to keep it in the fridge, according to an NPD group article. (But God gave us refrigerators; just use yours.)
Rather than another one of my huffy defenses of mayo, this newsletter is just going to skirt that issue altogether with two lovely mayo-free salads that are perfect for summer days and al fresco meals. They are delicious at room temperature and unlike, say, cucumbers or lettuce, which enjoy being cool, lose little of their spark if you get distracted by whatever’s on the grill or the fourth pitcher of Margaritas and leave them sitting in the summer air for a bit. Both get added crunch from nuts. Both are simple and super-easy to make. Plus, you can always wait to dress them until you’re ready to eat if you’re taking them on a picnic.
The first one is a haricot vert salad. I like a green bean salad even if I can’t find these slender, delightfully sweet beans, which are, of course, also delicious hot with nothing but butter, lemon, and salt. I love them because their brand of sweetness stands up to a powerful dressing and they have a texture that I can’t get enough of: undercooked and crunchy or cooked into submission, I want them. This salad is best, though, if they are cooked until just tender. Plus, it’s adaptable: you can serve it straight up or on a bed of arugula, for a more salady salad. And it actually gets better after it sits in its dressing for more than a few minutes.
The second is a spectacularly simple, crunchy radish salad, with toasted walnuts and Parm, from one of my current vegetable idols, Steven Satterfield, the chef at Miller Union, here in Atlanta. It’s one of those dishes that seems like a curiosity you’d like to try—just not right now—but turns out to be something you want to make over and over.
I thought of both of these not long after I made a salad to take with me on a trip and found it very depressing and limp once I opened the Tupperware. That won’t happen with either one of these, although you might want to keep any salad you transport on the floor of the car, in the front, with the AC on food mode.
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