three (3!) spectacular stunning summer salads
Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome (back!) to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Hello and welcome back to Home Movies Tuesday. Does it feel like we’ve been gone for 8 years? Well it was one week. Time is a construct! Anyway, thanks for being here, for tuning in, for returning, for waiting, for opening this email in a sea of emails. I’m sure at least one of you is here for the recipe and everyone else is here for the NEW KITCHEN REVEAL.
Well, a few things: 1. I just moved, so please lower your expectations because I just moved and of course nothing is exactly how I’d like it and even though I put away my own pantry, I still can’t find anything and honestly, it shows. 2. Anyone who says “awe I miss your OLD kitchen” will be blocked and reported. Just kidding! The charm will come with time. Give me one weekend at the Brimfield Flea and several hours on your favorite interiors blog. 3. This whole moving publicly thing felt weirdly vulnerable and honestly it makes me wonder how anyone does those AD Tours. I did not expect to feel this way! 4. There is a new, larger closet for you to wonder about and I promise the contents of that one are much more interesting. Have fun with that, my little closet detectives!
Now, for today’s episode of Home Movies! Three salads, my favorite party trick to employ from now until mid-September. See you later this week for regularly scheduled newsletter content.
Welcome to summer thanksgiving! What’s summer thanksgiving? Glad you asked! Summer thanksgiving is the best pretend holiday that’s theoretically happening all summer long. It’s what happens when you think of your barbecue spread the same way you think about your thanksgiving table, making sure that your “turkey” (burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, etc) has all the “sides” (tangy spicy salad, cooling crunchy salad, creamy starchy salad) on the table to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Doing this ensures you of course have plenty of flavors/textures going on without the fear of setting everything out and realizing, oh shit, do we not have a single vegetarian option other than potato chips? Whether you’ve got big barbecue plans this weekend (happy 4th of July, it’s gonna rain the whole time, we love New York!) or have a birthday potluck coming up (just had my bday, but thank you for the invite), these three salads are here for you to take the guesswork out of how to make a big, balanced spread.
TLDR; Come for the meats, stay for the salads (I’m always saying this!).
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Home Movies and thought, wow, that recipe looks amazing—I wish there were MORE RECIPES!, this is absolutely the episode for you. Here, Alison makes not one, not two, but all *three* of these perfect little salads, and dishes out tips and tricks for what to make ahead of time, and other ideas to make hosting as seamless as possible. There’s also the existential question of what is a salad, a call for shedding your preconceived notions that potato salad needs mayo (it doesn’t!), and a Bachelor rose ceremony-style salad tasting. PLUS: the real reason you’re all here, the long-anticipated new kitchen reveal!
It’s worth noting that while these recipes really shine when they’re together, they are all excellent in their own right, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have time to make them all. They’re also very adaptable and easy to scale up or down for the crowd you’re feeding. They’re really pulling their weight at all our summer parties, exceeding expectations left and right, and we love them for it. Now, let’s break them down:
TANGY POTATO SALAD WITH CELERY AND MUSTARD: Creamy, starchy, tangy.
I would gladly fill my entire plate with this potato salad. The vegetarians (and vegans!) will be particularly thrilled to have this as a part of the spread, but everyone else will love it just the same. It’s starchy and substantial, tangy and bright. It has all the texture I want in a potato salad, and has way more flavor than any version containing mayo (sorry), but if you want to add mayo, you have the blessing. In the same way our beloved pasta salad is more salad than pasta, this is a very salad-heavy potato salad. The celery gives it a nice crunch, the scallions and mustard add some sharpness, the whole chopped lemon is essential, and there is, as expected, lots of dill (potato <3 dill). Pro tip: keep a batch of boiled potatoes in the fridge at all times, and you’ll always be five minutes away from potato salad heaven.
TOMATOES DRESSED IN ANCHOVY AND FENNEL: Savory, salty, spicy.
These tomatoes with anchovy and fennel are so good it is actually unreasonable and literally everybody in your life will agree. I truly think it could be the thing to convert any anchovy haters that remain among us (show yourselves!). If it’s not tomato season where you are, don’t be discouraged, because this oil can make the saddest tomatoes easily some of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted (if it is tomato season, though, you are in for a TREAT). The oil comes together in the time it takes to slice your tomatoes, and a little drizzle of red wine vinegar goes a long way in adding some tangy sweetness to round out the dish. I still don’t understand how it takes five minutes to make something this good, but I’m certainly not mad about it.
CUCUMBER SALAD WITH TOASTED SESAME AND ONION: Crunchy, refreshing, nutty.
We should all be eating more cucumbers, especially in the summer–they are such a satisfying, refreshing vegetable– and this salad is easily one of my favorite ways to eat them. While it’s not the flashiest, you (and everyone else) will be thrilled it’s there, providing a light, refreshing reprieve from the heavier things on the table, happily supporting you in your journey of all day eating. Dressed simply in lemon (or vinegar) and salt, the toasted sesame oil and heavy handed amount of seeds add a nice complex nuttiness, while the thick slices of raw red onion brings a sharp bite. Of all of the salads, this one is probably the most versatile: Use white wine or rice vinegar, lemons or limes, and if you don’t have cilantro, dill or mint would also work. Add chili flake if you want it spicy, something like sumac for even more sour flavor. This could also take some crumbled feta if you were so inclined, but we love it all by its vegan self.
Click HERE for printable PDFs.
tangy potato salad with celery and mustard
If you don’t have scallions, you can use a thinly sliced shallot, and if you happen to have a preserved lemon on hand, this is the perfect time to use it. This celery vinegar from TART is particularly delicious here (and in many other dishes, and also to drink and what we are saying is: BUY IT), but white wine or apple cider vinegar will absolutely do the trick. Warm potatoes absorb the dressing particularly well, but if you’re using pre-boiled potatoes, just let the salad sit a little longer and mix a little more intensely to get them properly dressed.
2 lbs. small, waxy potatoes such as gold creamers, fingerlings or new potatoes
1 whole lemon, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 large bunch scallions or spring onions, thinly sliced
½ bunch of celery (about 6 stalks), thinly sliced on the diagonal (leaves reserved, if you can!)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (or celery vinegar), plus more
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard, plus more
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup celery or parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup dill, coarsely chopped
1. Boil potatoes (whole) in a large pot of salted water until they’re totally tender and effortlessly pierced with a fork or knife, 10–15 minutes (if your potatoes are larger than golf ball size, then you can cut them in half or quarter them before boiling). Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, combine whole lemon, scallions, celery, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 3 tablespoons mustard in a large bowl (large enough to add the potatoes later). Toss everything and season with salt and pepper-- it should taste almost overly salty, savory and tart, knowing that the flavor will dilute once you add the potatoes.
3. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle slightly, crush them with your hands, a dough scraper, the bottom of a small bowl-- whatever works. Add them to the bowl with the celery, etc.
4. Add olive oil and mix everything together, encouraging potatoes to break up even more into the dressing and season with salt, pepper and more vinegar and mustard, if needed.
5. Add celery leaves and dill just before serving.
tomatoes dressed in toasted fennel and anchovy
There are tomatoes, sure but we are really here for the anchovy-fennel oil used to dress the tomatoes. It’s spicy, salty and deeply savory, and great on everything from other thinly sliced raw vegetables (summer squash, cucumbers, fennel, radishes) to cooked ones (sauteed greens, roasted eggplant or broccoli). Spoon it into pasta, drizzle on eggs, use as a dip for bread, etc. You get the idea.
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons Aleppo-style pepper, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 anchovy fillets, plus more if you like
2–3 pounds small-ish very ripe tomatoes, quartered or sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
Flaky sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, Aleppo-style pepper, and anchovies, swirling and toasting until the spices are fragrant and the anchovies are melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Scatter the tomatoes on a large serving platter or in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the vinegar and, if you want, scatter with more anchovies (or just serve alongside in their little tin for snacking on). Spoon the toasted fennel–anchovy mixture over and top with flaky salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
DO AHEAD: The toasted fennel–anchovy oil can be made up to 2 weeks ahead, tightly covered, and stored in the refrigerator. The tomatoes can be sliced 1 hour ahead, if you must, but are really best if sliced, dressed, and served immediately.
cucumbers with red onion and sesame
For optimal results, dress right before eating OR give them a chance to really marinate-- cucumbers really love to be eaten immediately or given proper time to marinate. You choose! If you want to turn this into something more substantial, serve it on top of a bed of tahini dressing or seasoned yogurt, maybe adding a can of chickpeas or white beans to the equation.
2 large hot house or 6 persian or kirby cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small red onion, sliced on the thicker side
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime zest (the zest of one lemon)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (or white wine or rice wine vinegar), plus more
¼ cup white sesame seeds, well toasted
2–3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons sumac, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups cilantro, dill or mint, torn or coarsely chopped
1. Place cucumbers and onions in a large serving bowl or platter and season with salt. Add lemon zest and juice and season with more salt and citrus juice until they taste salty and tangy.
2. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with sesame seeds, sumac (if using), freshly ground black pepper and cilantro. Give a little toss before serving.