It arrived just in time for a major heat wave: a big project devoted to simple salads, with 20 recipes from New York Times Cooking that capture all that is fresh and fragrant and vibrant in summer. These are what you make for dinner when you can’t fathom turning on the oven, and you pair it with an icy cold drink.
You’ll see a few of the salad recipes below are from Genevieve Ko, the extraordinary editor and writer who runs our vast recipe development operation, and who led this salad extravaganza along with another one of our editors, Cathy Lo. Genevieve has such a keen sense of how to combine flavors and textures — elements that are essential to all good cooking but are particularly integral to good salads.
On a different note, thanks to everyone who wrote me last week about inflation cooking. The pain is very real! (Also note that the prices of fruits and vegetables have been less affected by inflation than other ingredients — another point for salad.) Keep writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I read every note and try to reply to all.
I make a version of this salad multiple times every summer — it’s my favorite thing to do with sweet corn, followed closely by just grilling or boiling it and slathering with butter. You could make this recipe exactly as Genevieve Ko wrote it, and add tacos or a really simple piece of chicken or fish on the side. Or you could add black beans or canned tuna (use the oil-packed kind) to make this more filling.
Genevieve’s recipe for tuna salad has nothing to do with mayonnaise and everything to do with rich tuna, bracing vinegar, and the sweetness and heat of bell and serrano peppers. This is a sophisticated but not fussy salad that takes all of 10 minutes to make. Toss it with pasta for a fuller meal.
This salad has big main-course energy: Just add rice or noodles. The recipe — another from Genevieve — is inspired by dishes, like gado gado, from Indonesia, that combine vegetables with peanut sauce. The green beans cook quickly, but you can swap in tomatoes and cucumbers if you can’t even bring yourself to stand by the stove. This is ideal for a heat wave.
4. Pasta Salad
One of the beauties of a salad like this one, from Melissa Clark, is that it’s convenient for feeding picky eaters (children, specifically). Just reserve some of the discrete elements — pasta, cherry tomatoes, salami, those cute mozzarella balls — before you toss everything together. You get a well-seasoned pasta salad to eat warm, cool or at room temp; they get plain, deconstructed pasta salad, done to their specs.
Yewande Komolafe tosses nuoc cham, the spicy-salty-sweet Vietnamese sauce, with bell pepper, crisp shredded cabbage, cucumber, greens, herbs and meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. (Leftover roast chicken would be great; poached chicken would work well, too.) This is the cooling crunch I require on a hot day.
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