A Salad for Summer

Who doesn’t love to eat salad all summer long? I like to have raw vegetables somewhere on the table at any meal, but in the dog days of summer, not cooking your veg and eating it too is just too good to pass up.
Lately, we have been obsessed with Shepherd’s Salad, or Coban Salatasi as it is known here. It is an odd salad for me because it can be so unremarkable when encountered while eating out. And I have finally put my finger on why – it is full of ingredients that ripen in the heat of the summer, but are commonly grown in greenhouses year-round. Everybody knows what tomatoes are like in December, right? But when everything is in season and ripened by the sun, it is a fantastic combination of flavors.
The salad is simple enough. Take these:

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chop them all up, salt liberally, squeeze a whole lemon and dump it in and then add a generous amount of olive oil and you’ll end up with this:

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It’s the perfect summer salad because it is full of things that thrive in this weather. (I don’t know about you, but my lettuce swoons a bit in the heat of summer.)
Anyway, here’s a written recipe for those who are so inclined:
Coban Salatasi (Shepherd’s Salad)
3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes
an equivalent amount of cucumbers
a green (or red) bell pepper
half a sweet onion
a handful of parsley
2 or 3 green onions
one lemon, squeezed
olive oil
salt

Mince the onion and parsley finely, slice the green onion into rounds, and chop the rest of the veg. Mix it all with a generous pinch of salt, pour over the lemon juice, and glug in some good olive oil. Stir it around and you’re ready to eat!

We have been having this with everything. The other night we spooned it on top of bowls of rice and broiled salmon, this morning we ate it alongside our eggs. You can throw in a diced avocado, too, if you’ve got it.

It is also sour cherry season, and that means it’s time for liqueur! I have made a new batch, but with two minor adjustments to the original recipe that I posted, which I wanted to mention here. One is that I now leave some of the cherry stems on to add flavor. The other adjustment I made after enjoying this post over at Rachel Eats and reading “…how the heat of high summer halts fermentation but precipitates maceration. ” and having one of those moments like you see in films where a montage of events flashes before you — bottles of cherry liqueur on terraces in full sun at my mother in law’s house and at other homes I have visited.

20140720-133759-49079420.jpg“The liqueur will sit in the full, blazing sun!” I cries, and that is where it is for the month.

In My Kitchen July 2014

Well, I’ve just blown back in to the garden from Rome, with spoils to show for it. Only we demolished a lot of it before it even occurred to me that it was a new month already (the boys have made fast work of a hefty chunk of Parmesan).
Do you enjoy poking around on other people’s kitchens? If so, head over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and join the fun.
So here are a few things that survived the onslaught. In my kitchen there is:

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this beautiful slab of pancetta. And there is a bit of a story to it, as it happens.
Months ago, I received an email from my good friend Tuba that I ought to check out a blog called Rachel Eats. I consider her an authority on blogs worth reading, so I immediately complied and was subscribed by the end of the first paragraph. There’s good food, and also great stories and photography in her pages, and I’ve learned some invaluable things by reading her.
When I planned to go to Rome, it was in the back of my mind to write to Rachel. It feels a bit creepy to email someone out of the blue, but I did it once before and had a blast (thanks, Daisy of coolcookstyle!) Anyway, long story short we did manage to meet up over coffee and cornetti (very, very good cornetti, I might add, at Barberini on Via Marmorata). It is an odd feeling to meet up with someone you’ve read – a cross between meeting a pen pal and a matinee idol (dated references, I know). But what’s lovely is that there is so much to talk about. Rachel took me and Kaya on an impromptu tour of her neighborhood, Testaccio, and since everything was closed that day (Sunday), she took me to her butcher’s the following day to buy a bit of cheese and some pancetta to take home. It was a lovely little shop, clean and simple and full of cured meats of every description. I could have gotten carried away if I hadn’t been keeping one eye on Kaya the whole time.
Unwrapping the pancetta at home and slicing it (to be enjoyed alongside some fried liver and onions on Saturday, a.k.a. Liver Night), I felt my trip and my daily life collide, and had to smile.
In my kitchen there is:

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a black truffle sitting in a box of eggs. This is also thanks to Rachel. I was flying home on Monday, so I wanted to get a sandwich for the plane. Rachel took me into Volpetti, a pungently scented temple to fine foods. “It’s a bit like a jewellery store,” she said as we entered and she breezily greeted the woman behind the counter and set her to the task of making me a sandwich. As this was happening, pizza bianca sliced and being laden with burrata and prosciutto, I spied a basket of black truffles on the counter. My mother had said she would like to have a truffle, so I plucked one out of the basket and held it to my nose. It smelled like an ambassador from the realm of dirt. Dizzied by the mushrooms hanging above, the rows of olive oil and vinegar, the cheeses and salami, I stumbled out clutching my prizes to find Rachel and Luca playing at the water fountain outside. And the sandwich was an absolute treasure.
Oh yes and about the eggs. My mother wanted the truffle to make scrambled eggs with, and she read that we ought to let it sit among the eggs overnight. Well who are we to argue? We tried it and the eggs, once cracked into a bowl the next morning, did seem to have an earthy perfume. Aided by generous shavings of the truffle itself, we were treated to a plate of eggs that tasted, in my mom’s words, as if they contained “a million mushrooms.”
In my kitchen there is:

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this beautiful brick of salt. My friend Jessica, whom I shared the flat in Rome with, presented me with this surprising gift one night. The boys have had their tongues all over it, crazy for salt as they are, so if you come over I wouldn’t advise touching it. But that doesn’t bother me much so I enjoy ritualistically shaving salt off my salt lick and adding it to my food.
So this month I am drinking, with gratitude, to the generosity of friends both old and new.

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Chin chin!