Summer food: Variations on a theme

(No CSA this week; we were out of town and a neighbor picked up my share.)

As if pregnancy hadn’t already made me an incredibly lazy cook, summer really lowers my level of ambition in the kitchen. As I flipped through photos from the last couple months there were two things I kept falling back on, each of them easy to adapt to nearly any situation: Pasta salad and sliced steak over salad.

Pasta salad first. I never understood the stuff. It always seemed clammy and gluey and all-around blah. But then I started needing to take side dishes to picnics, or needing a side dish for a barbecue, and the revelations of Lydia’s pasta salad, and Bridge’s Greek version, and the BLT salad from Matchbox in DC all conspired to make me sort of obsessed.

Recent versions of each:

Lydia’s, modified for extra flavor:

(Tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, basil, pasta. Everything except the cheese and pasta sat for a while in sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to get juicy. Cheese added once the pasta had cooled.)



(Tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, feta, olives, summer squash, pasta. Again with dressing the vegetables first and adding the cheese last.)

BLT, again:


(Tomatoes, red onion, pasta, bacon, iceberg lettuce & creamy dressing of your choice (bacon/lettuce/dressing added just before serving))

Meat on salad:

Perfect for nights when it’s too hot to turn on the stove at all. Grill something and slice it on top of a salad that you’ve fancied up with whatever sounds good.

First up, skirt steak (marinated in ginger/soy/etc.) and served over butter lettuce and avocado with carrot-ginger dressing from Smitten Kitchen (I found the dressing bland and need to play around with it more. I might have used too much carrot?):



Next, gluten-free cooking for Ben’s mom, with a totally unsuccessful marinade that we will not legitimize with a link, but with very successful corn salad on top of the greens:



(I have made this version several times (adding avocado to the corn salad, sometimes), but not with that gritty gross marinade, EPICURIOUS.)

And in a variation on the theme, a taco version with ground beef that I cooked with homemade taco seasoning and served on lettuce with corn, avocado, tomatoes and a little cheese. Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and crumbled chips added to taste at the table.


Hmm, revisiting these has solved my dilemma about dinner tonight—I just need to decide which one sounds best. I think I want to give that carrot/ginger dressing another shot.

3 thoughts on “Summer food: Variations on a theme”

  1. Um, YUM!! Those first two salads in particular look delicious. I made that carrot-ginger dressing when i saw it in GOOP, and I thought it was really bland, too. Glad it wasn’t just me!

  2. Interesting, I was intrigued by the dressing in GOOP and then when Deb featured it on SK I thought perhaps I would give it a try… and then I never did. I’ll be curious to see how you play with it.

  3. i made the BLT pasta salad last night after seeing it here and it was a DEEE-light! i think i’ll add some avocado next time too! YUMMM! thanks for the inspiration!

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