I was asked this morning what I’ve been cooking. My answer was “Cooking? It’s summer! Time for salads!” There’s nothing like salad, and a good Wüshtof Classic 6″ Chopping knife to kick off the summer!

There are five simple ingredients (including one must-have product!) for fabulous summer salads:

  1. Good Vinegar

With talk of salad comes the necessary question of dressing. I have not purchased a salad dressing for about five years after discovering my mustard intolerance. My favorite balsamic is Lucini CharmaVi Balsamico – this is what they have to say about it:

Unique to the American marketplace, CharmaVi™ Balsamico is a superfruit-infused vinegar that is produced, aged and bottled on a single estate in the Italian province of Modena. After the natural aging process of 100% Trebbiano grapes in small chestnut barrels, Lucini’s aged balsamic is blended with our single estate grown CharmaVi™ organic sea buckthorn berry juice, resulting in a magnificent and singular taste experience. CharmaVi™ organic sea buckthorn berry juice is truly the next big super-fruit, extremely rich in Vitamin C and A and possesses the highest antioxidant level of all known fruits. Dr Andrew Weil says CharmaVI™ is ” one the most important new foods to come to American, I use it everyday myself and HIGHLY recommend it”. 

I am unsure of their allergenicity, and perhaps a bit concerned about the chestnut barrels, but we have used them without incident. My allergies are not yours, so as always, ask your allergist if you have questions.

  1. Good Olive Oil

My favorite olive oil right now is the Lucini Organic Olive Oil and the Infused Olive Oils. These oils make all the difference in the world to a good summer salad. Do not skimp on your olive oil.

  1. Fresh Lemon or Lime

This is the kicker. Take ½ of a fresh lemon or lime and squeeze it over your salad BEFORE you dress it. I’m very particular about the temperature of my salads. The worst thing is a salad that is too cold. So I let my salad sit out about twenty minutes before I call my family to the table, then I dress the salad quickly before it goes on the plate.

  1. A Good Knife
Chopping Green Garlic, Scapes & Greens

Wüsthof 6″ Chopper with Green Garlic, Scapes & Greens

Summer happiness also depends on a good chopping knife. As a self-trained home-cook, I have put up with my share of un-sharpened knives, and I thought I had purchased the right set, until Wüsthof sent me their new 6” chopper. This knife, well, cuts like a KNIFE! After a few small knicks while washing the knife, I finally learned to respect it. My favorite items to chop so far are green garlic, garlic scapes, ginger, regular garlic and onions. After chopping, what I don’t use goes into small wax paper packets and right into the freezer for future use in other meals.

  1. Fresh Produce

I buy my produce in the summer at our local Farmer’s Market and I also belong to our local CSA. The trick to buying anything fresh is to use it up quickly. You want to make sure it’s not stuck in the fridge for a long time, especially if you’re using it as an ingredient in salads. I am also fond of picking mint and lavender out of my friend Nancy’s garden – she’s fond of it too since it tends to take over.

Here are a few of my favorite summer salads:

Arugula, proscuitto, asian pear and blueberry salad

Butter Lettuce, peaches, grilled chicken, asian radish, scallions, and cherry tomatoes

Arugula, mint, slices of strawberry, scallions, goat cheese and kalmata olives

Romaine, grilled chicken, olives, red onions, tomatoes, shredded carrots

Determine the salad dressing using your family’s tastes as well as your ingredients. The butter lettuce would be overwhelmed with too much Balsamico, but a few drops combined with lemon and a splash of champagne vinegar is heavenly. My other favorite vinegars are apple cider, red wine vinegar, and a fun addition is Mirin (Japanese rice wine which is like a syrup) and brown rice vinegar.

Chop, toss and enjoy!

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