Summer is the season for salads, and these two colorful recipes are sure to please your palate and boost your mood.
The success of the first dish depends on ripe, in-season tomatoes.
Tomatoes exude lots of liquid when cut, which can quickly turn a salad into soup. To get rid of some of the tomato juice without losing all the valuable flavor, we looked to a method that had proven successful in our other tomato salad recipes: salting the tomatoes before making the salad.
Simply cutting the tomatoes into wedges, tossing them with salt and letting them sit for 15 minutes provided enough time for the juice to drain. This also seasoned the tomatoes and their juice at the same time. We reserved a measured amount of the flavorful juice to add to the dressing without watering down the salad.
Greek yogurt laid the foundation for a creamy, spice-infused dressing, and we boosted its tang with lemon juice and the reserved tomato juice. To that, we added fresh oregano, cumin, and garlic, but some tasters found the cumin and garlic too harsh. A quick zap in the microwave was all it took to effectively bloom the spice and cook the garlic, successfully mellowing their flavors.
Both regular and low-fat Greek yogurt will work well here; do not use nonfat yogurt.
We tossed the tomatoes with the dressing, finishing with just the right amount of briny feta to add richness and another layer of flavor.
Our second salad celebrates ingredients that are abundant in Sicily.
Citrus fruits, in particular, flourish and come in many varieties. Taroccos, or blood oranges, are the most popular and prized variety, so it seemed only fitting that we use them here.
We liked the fennel best when it was sliced as thin as possible; this ensured its texture was delicate and crisp rather than tough and chewy, making it an ideal pairing with the sweet, juicy oranges.
To ensure that they were evenly distributed in the salad, we cut the oranges into bite-size pieces and tossed the salad gently to keep the segments from falling apart.
To finish our salad, we added some oil-cured black olives, which added briny contrast, plus fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
TOMATO SALAD WITH FETA AND CUMIN-YOGURT DRESSING
Start to finish: 30 minutes
21/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)
Toss the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let drain in a colander set over a bowl for 15-20 minutes.
Microwave the oil, garlic and cumin in a bowl until fragrant, about 30 seconds; let cool slightly.
Transfer 1 tablespoon tomato liquid to a large bowl; discard remaining liquid. Whisk in the yogurt, lemon juice, scallion, oregano and oil mixture until combined.
Add the tomatoes and feta, and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 104 calories; 54 calories from fat; 6 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 13 mg cholesterol; 338 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 5 g protein.
FENNEL, ORANGE AND OLIVE SALAD
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 blood oranges
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb halved, cored and sliced thin
1/4 cup pitted brine-cured black olives, sliced thin
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Cut away peel and pith from the oranges. Quarter oranges, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
In a bowl, combine the oranges and any accumulated juices with the fennel, olives, oil, mint and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 122 calories; 89 calories from fat; 13 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 152 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 1 g protein.