Oh my gosh, friends … mid-July is tomorrow. Where is the summer going?? Not helping is the fact that some Canadian weather anomaly will be arriving tomorrow, giving us temps in the low 70’s. In July!
All around, I’m starting to feel autumn panicky about fresh vegetables, like I’m running out of time, when really, things are just getting started.
Like big, savory tomatoes, and fresh, plump corn, and bathtub peaches — peaches so ripe and juicy that it’s just better to set your ole self down in the tub while you munch these babies and get it over with; that’s what we call ’em around here, bathtub peaches — and freshly picked baby kale so tender you don’t have to do a thing to it before heaping it on your plate.
That, my friends, is the stuff of summer chopped salads. The best, most flavorful salads you’ll ever eat. And so easy to prepare. It’s called a chopped salad because that’s exactly what you do: no fancy chiffonade or julienne. Just chop.
I marvel at the cleverness of Mother Nature. Have you ever noticed how summer produce — all summer produce — goes so fantastically well together, even though they’re nothing alike in the flavor department? Peaches and tomatoes? Yep! Zucchini and carrots? You bet! Watermelon and jalapeños? Oh, yes!
Pretty much, you can walk out to your vegetable garden, or make a quick pitstop at the farmers’ market, and come away with dinner, no matter what’s there. It will all work.
But I have to admit, tomatoes, corn, and peaches have a particular soft spot in my heart. The combination of sweet and acid and savory is spot on with this trio, and they make the best summer chopped salad ever.
Are you guys fans of burrata? It took a while for burrata to expand beyond a few select (and inconveniently located) stores in Cincinnati, but now the grocery just miles from my house carries it, and, oh my.
Burrata is a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese stuffed with a mozzarella cream center. You slice into the ball and the most wonderfully delicate cheesy goodness oozes out. It’s a mess to work with. And it’s absolutely worth it.
If you can find burrata, it will make an amazing topping to this particular summer chopped salad. (If not, just use fresh mozzarella — it’s all good.)
And speaking of toppings, do you see my post yesterday about oven-roasted chickpeas? I actually made the crispy chickpeas for this salad, but they turned out so well that I thought I’d include a post on the technique I used. Check it out if you’re a fan of the savory-snacky crispy chickpea.
And then there’s the salad dressing. Making homemade dressing is one of my favorite DIY things in the whole foodie world. So easy and fresh. I made a big batch of dill buttermilk dressing — it’s really a ranch dressing with dill as the star — for this salad and have been dipping into it all week for all sorts of things — with carrot sticks, as a sandwich spread. I topped a burger with it and slapped on a slice of swiss cheese. It’s a dill lover’s ranch dressing for sure, but you can also sub your favorite herbs instead with awesome result.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I wanted to share a little dressing-making secret: I rarely use mayo in my dressings. I like mayo as a condiment, but I find it to be too thick and gloppy (and a little cloyingly sweet) in most dressings.
My substitute is super easy: Greek yogurt (usually 2%), honey, and lemon juice or vinegar (amounts vary according to the type of dressing I’m creating). Justified or not, I feel less guilty about using a good dose of this type of creamy dressing on my salads. You’ll find this combo of ingredients in the dressing recipe below.
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 heaping tablespoons minced dill leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic smashed with a little salt (one small clove)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives or minced green onions
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 to 1 cup buttermilk I used 3/4 cup
- 4 cups chopped greens such as romaine and baby kale
- kernels from 1 ear of corn raw
- 1 peach chopped
- 6 cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1 tablespoon small diced red onions
- 1/2 cup oven-roasted chickpeas*
- 1 ball of burrata sliced into wedges
- 1 teaspoon minced dill leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced cilantro leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add all ingredients except buttermilk to a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and whisk thoroughly. Test the consistency and add more buttermilk until it reaches your preferred pourability. I used 3/4 cup, which makes it pourable but tangy rich. Taste, and add more salt if desired. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. (For best results, taste again after the rest, and add more salt a pinch at a time as needed.)
Spread the greens on a large platter. Top with the corn, peaches, tomatoes, red onions, and chickpeas. Arrange burrata slices over the salad, and sprinkle with the herbs and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Serve the buttermilk dressing on the side.