Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Fresh Summer Salad and Crispy Potatoes

Weeks 9 and 10 were nearly identical: lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes,  beets, cabbage, and chard. Week 9 provided me with zucchini and Week 10 provided me with corn instead. I was very excited by these selections because we are now in territory that I'm familiar with: potatoes and tomatoes, staples that my kitchen is never without year-round. Although supermarket potatoes taste the same year-round, tomatoes are another story altogether. In winter, we have to put up with those pale, tasteless things that pass for tomatoes. So when the summer tomatoes come, it is cause for celebration. We usually just slice tomatoes and eat them raw in salads.

One of my favorite salads is a variation on a summer salad that I grew up with, simply called Summer Salad. This salad is traditionally made with cucumbers and radishes but when my son was little, he didn't like radishes and I began substituting tomatoes. You can use cucumbers and radishes or cucumbers and tomatoes or a combination of the three. The ingredients in this salad are so simple you won't believe how delicious it can be with just those few items. The secret is in the combination of sour cream and salt. It won't taste nearly as good if you don't salt it well.

Summer Salad
(Print this recipe)

1 seedless baby cucumber
1 tomato (or several radishes)
2-3 Tbsp. sour cream

Dice the vegetables so that they are uniform in size. If you can't find seedless baby cucumbers--and they do make a difference--make sure you take the seeds out of a regular cucumber before dicing it. Add the vegetables to a bowl and mix with sour cream and salt to taste. Let stand 5-10 minutes and taste. Add more salt if necessary. The salad will begin to release a lot of liquid pretty quickly. You can drain it if you wish or simply eat it up when you get to the end of the salad.

Crispy Potatoes
(Print this recipe)

2-3 potatoes
oil for cooking

The trick to getting these potatoes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside is to boil and then fry them. It takes a little longer but the results are worth it.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes into thin rounds, about 1/8th inch thick (or thinner). Put them into a pan and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium heat. At this point, test the potatoes with a fork. They should be underdone a bit but not hard. If they are still quite hard, turn the heat to low and cook another few minutes. Drain and lay the slices out on a paper towel to dry somewhat. Heat a pan on medium high and add sufficient oil. This is not the time to skimp on oil. When hot, begin adding the slices to the pan carefully, making sure not to overlap the slices. If the slices are still wet, you will get a lot of splatter so it's a good idea to make sure they are as dry as possible. Fry until they are crispy on the bottom side, then flip to the other side. Remove from pan and onto paper towels. While the potatoes are still hot, sprinkle with salt. Continue frying the rest of the potatoes in batches in the same manner.


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