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With summer in the air, salads are taking centre stage on our plates. And if we are eating salads, why not indulge in a few sweets or an outstanding appetizer? All these recipes are easy to make, fresh tasting and full of seasonal ingredients.

Today, many greens are grown that were not previously available. Some are wild plants that have a renewed life or have been tamed. Arugula and mache are good examples. Others, such as mizuna and tatsoi, have an Asian background. Combining multiple types of lettuce with other ingredients make summer salads more interesting and fun.


Jump to a recipe:

Salads: A guide to summer greens | Bonnie Stern’s hummus at home | Radicchio with Green Goddess dressing topped with chicken thighs | Roasted potato salad | Grilled little gem salad | Asian vegetable and herb salad

Desserts: Anna's brown butter chocolate chip cookies | Tara O’Brady’s Calas with honeyed strawberry sauce | Butter tart squares | Eton Mess | Gingernut no-bake cheesecake


The following is a compendium of the more unusual summer greens.

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  • Arugula With oak-leaf shaped leaves, the lettuce provides a peppery, nutty taste in salad. It is excellent served with a main course as well as mixed with other greens. Goat cheese is often partnered with arugula. It is also known as rocket or rucola.
  • Belgian endive Elongated and elegant, Belgian endive is grown underground to keep its white appearance. Its slight bitterness is a good counterpoint to assertive ingredients. It also cooks well, especially braised in little stock with butter and sugar.
  • Bibb lettuce Small, mild, and sweet with loose leaves, this lettuce has a bit more texture than Boston lettuce. These soft leaf lettuces are known as butterheads because of their melt-in-the-mouth texture. They are best in salads dressed with light vinaigrettes.
  • Escarole Escarole is pale green and slightly bitter. It is part of the chicory family. Mix it with frisée and other chicories and incorporate with assertive ingredients such as blue cheese, nuts and bacon. It is also good stir-fried.
  • Frisée Finely curled, frizzy-leafed frisée ranges in colour from yellow white in the centre to darker green. Buy younger, smaller frisée and use as part of a salad mix or in an assertive salad with ingredients like chicken livers or poached eggs.
  • Lollo Rosso Mild and sweet, this lettuce is tightly ruffled with a red tip on the leaves. Use as part of a mixed salad. It is part of the leaf lettuce family.
  • Mâche Mâche, also known as lamb’s quarters, corn salad or field salad, grows in delicate clumps, and has spoon-shaped leaves. Remove the little roots before serving. It has a distinctive nutty, buttery flavour, and is good by itself or combined with other mild lettuce.
  • Mizuna This delicate Asian green with jagged green leaves and a white stalk appears more and more in the markets. Use as part of a salad mix or to garnish Asian dishes.
  • Oak leaf Part of the loose-leaf lettuce group, it has deeply indented, tender leaves that look like oak leaves. The stems are crunchy. It comes in red and green varieties, is perfect in a mixed salad, and excellent by itself.
  • Radicchio Part of the chicory family, its intense burgundy colour and distinct peppery flavour adds life to salads. It comes as a round cabbage-like head and as an elongated head (rather like Belgian endive) called Treviso radicchio.
  • Tatsoi Also known as spoon mustard, tatsoi is an Asian green. It has an interesting spoon-like leaf and a mildly peppery flavour. It is usually combined with other greens.
  • Watercress Watercress is a member of the nasturtium family and grows on the banks of streams. It has a distinctive spicy flavour and is a good addition to sandwiches, as well as salads.

Salads

Bonnie Stern’s hummus at home

Makes 2 cups

Freshly made hummus is a treat. You will not be able to go back to buying it after you taste Bonnie’s recipe. If you are used to store bought, you should make some right away. It is so much better. There are many ways to make and serve hummus, but this is my go-to basic recipe. Serve as is or these are some of my favourite toppings: a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or pure tahini; a sprinkle of smoked paprika or chopped fresh cilantro or parsley; dots of harissa or cilantro pesto; or roasted cherry tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms spooned into the centre. Enjoy with pita bread, challah or vegetables for dipping. Follow Bonnie @bonniestern for more food inspiration.

Some notes: Canned chickpeas make hummus quick and easy to prepare, even at the last minute. Be sure to use good tahini; if you taste it on its own, it should not leave a bitter aftertaste.

To cook dried chickpeas: Soak one cup overnight in lots of water with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Drain and rinse. Cook in lots of fresh water with another 1/2 teaspoon baking soda until very tender. Skim and discard any froth or chickpea skins that come to the surface. Start testing to see if they are tender after about 45 minutes, but it can take up to over an hour depending on how old they are, how long they soaked and many other things. Cook until very tender.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, either canned (1 540mL/19oz can) or freshly cooked
  • 1/2 cup pure tahini (from the jar)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Reserve about 1/4 cup chickpeas for topping. Place remaining chickpeas in a food processor and chop on/off.

Add tahini, salt, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and ice water. Process about 5 minutes or longer until exceptionally smooth, scraping down sides of bowl 2 or 3 times. (I set my timer for 5 minutes because I rarely have the machine on for so long.)

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Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice. If it is too thick add a more ice water a little at a time.

Spread hummus over a serving dish, with a shallow dip in the centre. Sprinkle with reserved cooked chickpeas and any of the above optional toppings.


Radicchio with Green Goddess dressing topped with chicken thighs

Serves 4

This salad is an always appreciated main course when topped with grilled or fried chicken. I often add croutons when I have some on hand. Omit the chicken thighs if you want to serve it as a side salad. Other variations: Use pancetta instead of bacon, or add shrimp instead of chicken.

Green Goddess dressing

  • 2/3 cup chopped avocado
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs

Salad

  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 2 head Belgian endive
  • 4 oz (125 g) thick cut bacon, fried until crisp
  • 1 cup grated Manchego cheese

Use a stick blender or food processor to combine avocado, oil, yogurt, lemon juice, shallots, chives, tarragon, basil, mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper. (Keeps refrigerated a week.) Divide dressing in half. Place chicken thighs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush half dressing over chicken thighs. Marinate thighs for 30 minutes. Reserve remaining dressing for salad. If it is too thick, whisk in 1 tablespoon water.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake thighs for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear. If skin is not crisp enough, broil for 2 minutes.

Divide salad onto 4 plates and toss with dressing. Place chicken thigh on top.


Roasted potato salad

Serves 6

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Roasting potatoes for this salad gives more depth of flavour. Potato salads are much improved if you dress the potatoes while they are still hot so that they absorb the dressing rather than having it sit on top. Good additions are bacon, chopped anchovies or blanched green beans. Cut recipe in half for a small group of people.

  • 2 pounds mini red potatoes, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut potatoes in half, but do not peel. Toss with oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish and roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until browned and tender.

Combine mayonnaise, horseradish and lemon juice. Toss potatoes with onion, red pepper, and mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm or room temperature.


Grilled little gem salad

Serves 4

Little gem lettuce is available at most supermarkets and green grocers. It is part of the romaine family, smaller and tastier. If unavailable, then use 3 small romaine lettuce cut half. There will be enough dressing leftover for another salad. If you prefer croutons, use them instead of the baguette slices. A few fried oysters or grilled shrimp on the side would be a great addition. Omit the onions if you do not like them.

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Caesar dressing

  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad

  • 6 heads of Little Gem lettuce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 4 slices baguette (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 clove garlic, halved

Combine anchovies, chopped garlic, mayonnaise, Worcestershire and lemon juice. Crumble in 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut lettuce heads in half or in quarters if they are large. Brush with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill on high. Grill the lettuce for about 1 to 2 minutes per side (with lid closed), or until charred but not limp. Reserve.

Cut red onion into thick rounds and brush with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, or until limp and slightly charred. Cool and separate into rings.

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Grill bread for 1 minute per side, or until toasted. Remove from grill and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Rub with halved garlic clove on both sides.

Place lettuce on a platter and pile onions alongside. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and serve with the toasts on the side. If there is extra dressing, drizzle it around lettuce. Alternatively divide lettuce among 4 plates, pile a few onion rings beside each lettuce. Drizzle with dressing, Lay toast on the side.


Asian vegetable and herb salad

Serves 4

Add 4 ounces of soaked thin rice noodles to the vegetables for a noodle variation of this refreshing salad. Vary the vegetables using what you have on hand. I like it for lunch on its own, but it also pairs well with chicken or fish.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces thin asparagus stalks, sliced in 2-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 bunch watercress, stalks trimmed
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves

Dressing

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  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat oil in skillet on high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onions and red pepper. Stir fry for 1 minute, add asparagus and stir fry 2 minutes longer. Stir in soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. The vegetables should still be crisp. Cool.

Combine spinach, watercress, mint and coriander leaves on a platter. Scatter vegetable mixture over.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad.

Desserts

Lucy Waverman

Anna’s brown butter chocolate chip cookies

Makes about 16 to 18 cookies

Anna is my 15-year-old granddaughter who, during this pandemic, found she loved to cook and bake. She now bakes sourdough for her neighbourhood and makes these cookies for all of us. They are crisp around the edges and mellow in the middle, my favourite kind. Check her Instagram feed, @annasbalance, where she posts her adventures with food and workouts. The cookie dough can be made ahead and frozen in dough balls. Bake from frozen.

  • 1½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl.

Melt ½ cup (1 stick) butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mixing constantly until butter foams and then browns. about 6 minutes. Transfer butter to a large bowl and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Cube remaining ¼ cup (½ stick) butter into small pieces and add to the warm brown butter. Stir to dissolve.

Add both sugars to the butter and whisk until sugar is incorporated and no lumps remain. Whisk in egg and egg yolks until incorporated. Whisk in vanilla. Using a spatula, fold dry ingredients into the wet mixture just until incorporated, then fold in chocolate.

Rest dough in refrigerator in bowl for 10 minutes.

Using a cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) portion out about 16-18 balls of dough and divide between 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Bake cookies until deep golden brown and firm around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Let cool.


Tara O’Brady’s Calas (Creole rice fritters) with honeyed strawberry sauce

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Makes around 24 small or 18 large

Tara was introduced to calas through the work of culinary activist and Louisiana food historian Poppy Tooker. They are thought to have originated in rice-growing African nations. In the 1700s, they became a vital source of income for enslaved women in New Orleans who sold them in the streets on Sundays.

Fritters

  • 2/3 cup long-grain white rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or seeds scraped from a bean
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Neutral oil, for frying
  • Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Strawberry honey sauce

  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons honey, or more as needed
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 3/4 cup thick yogurt or crème fraîche

Spread the cooked rice in a large, wide bowl.

Whip the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together until pale and about doubled in volume in a second bowl. In three additions, fold egg mixture into the cooked rice. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg onto the rice mixture. Fold to combine. Let batter rest, covered, for 20 minutes.

To make the strawberry sauce, combine the strawberries, honey, and lemon juice in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, gently mashing the berries. Lower the heat to a simmer, and let bubble until glossy and thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust sweetness if needed. Set aside to cool.

Pour enough oil into a heavy, deep saucepan to come up 2 to 3 inches up the sides. Heat oil over a medium heat to 365°F.

Using a spring-loaded scoop or two tablespoons, carefully drop balls of dough into the hot oil (using about 1 tablespoon batter for small calas, 4 teaspoons for large). Fry batches, turning calas often, until deeply golden and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain calas briefly before dredging in cinnamon sugar, then transferring to a baking rack or directly to a serving dish.

When ready to feast, swirl the strawberry sauce with the yogurt or crème fraîche and offer alongside the hot calas. To eat, tear your calas in two, then spoon a smear of strawberry-marbled yogurt on each half.

The calas are best the day they are made, preferably fresh from the fryer.


Butter tart squares

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Makes about 20 squares

These are much easier to make than butter tarts because the pastry is just patted out but they retain the same ooey-gooey centre. Make the topping while the base is baking. You can add fruit into this, about 1 cup. Rhubarb is wonderful, but cranberries and pitted sour cherries also work. Raisons and currants give them a more traditional taste.

Base

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter

Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup or organic corn syrup
  • 1½ tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins or nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 8-inch square cake pan.

In food processor or by hand, combine flour, sugar and butter until mixture holds together. Press into prepared pan. Prick and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Beat eggs until foamy in a bowl. Beat in sugar and flour. Stir in butter, corn syrup, vinegar, vanilla, salt and currants.

Pour into partially baked base and bake for a further 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Cool and cut into rectangles.


Handout

Eton Mess

Serves 4

This dessert was developed at the Eton School in England, developed because a cook made a meringue that she broke and, in trying to figure out some of way of serving this to students, layered it with cream and fruit. It is a sensational summer dessert. To make it extra easy, buy premade meringues.

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Meringues

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Raspberry sauce
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar

To finish

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until frothy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Continue to beat until egg whites are thick, stiff, and very glossy (like shaving cream). Beat in lemon juice.

Spoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in six 2-inch dollops. Bake for 1 hour or until crisp. Break meringues into large and small pieces. Set aside.

Combine raspberries with lemon juice and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. This is the sauce.

Place a spoonful of raspberry sauce in individual bowls or glass serving dishes. Layer with crumbled meringue, whipped cream, some fresh raspberries, and a drizzle of raspberry sauce. Repeat layers.


Gingernut no-bake cheesecake

Serves 6

This delightful Greek-influenced cheesecake is quick to put together and requires no baking. Graham crackers or chocolate cookies can substitute for the ginger crust, if that’s not to your liking. And the fruit topping can be adjusted for the seasons, using strawberries, peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, or blueberries when the timing is right. A tip: Use the block cream cheese; the texture is too soft with the bulk one. The cheesecake keeps a week.

Base

  • 2 cups crumbled gingersnaps
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Cream cheese layer

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  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Topping

  • 2 cups fruit of choice
  • 3 tablespoons red currant jelly

Place gingersnaps and almonds in food processor and process together until almonds are finely chopped. Add butter and process briefly.

Butter a 9-inch spring form and line base with parchment paper. Press cookie crumbs into base and about 1 to 2-inches (2.5 to 5 cm) up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

Whisk together cream cheese, yoghurt, honey, and orange rind. Spoon into chilled shell. Chill at least one hour or overnight.

Place fruit on top of cheese. Melt jelly until just liquid and brush over fruit.

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