Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Late Summer Salad + My Home

Well, sheesh. According to my calendar and the weather as of late, summer is waning.  I won't mind the cooler weather (my apartment is really stuffy), but I'm not too jazzed about the ebb of summer produce.  I absolutely love late summer crops. Tomatoes and corn are bountiful right now and at their tastiest.  There are so many meals to make or preserving to do with them. Though, I think that the best way to enjoy local, fresh produce is in a fresh salad.  If the dressing is subtle enough, then you can really appreciate the quality of each ingredient. 

On another note, my friend Brad requested that I post some pictures of my place. I was a little wary about taking interior photos, but I actually had fun. I live in an historic building in town that's been slightly renovated.  It still retains that quirkiness of an old building, which I love.  

This apartment is the first place that I've had all to myself.  Although I really miss having people around, I love having my own home.  With the help of my dad's photographs, some hand-me-down furniture, and several thrift store visits, it's well-furnished and decorated.  Does that make me a grown up? Who knows. 

Dave will be here in late fall, and then we'll get to make it our place. I can't wait.

I was slightly misled by the description of the apartment before I moved into it. It was listed as having a communal garden, which, of course, got me a little too excited. Turns out, we just have native plants growing throughout the complex and one little cherry tomato plant. No real edible garden, but at least we don't have a boring lawn. Also, the owners of the complex are sustainably-minded, so we've got solar panels, bike parking, and really good insulation. I think it's a good fit. 

Last weekend I helped my parents cut up firewood while I was visiting. In return, they let me pick out some stumps and a board to use for a shelf. My mom and I sanded and oiled the board and I bought some cinder blocks in Missoula.  It's a tiny shelf, but I love that rustic look. Actually, I'm a sucker for it. 

I found my kitchen table for sale on a random side street in Portland.  The whole set was $20, which is criminally cheap.  When I'm no longer living in an apartment and have my own garage, I plan to stain and repaint the whole set. 

My bedroom is small and pretty boring.  The window is misleading. It leads out to a hallway, so not a lot of natural light.  Still, it's very cozy. 

Have I tempted you to come visit? I sure hope so.

Anyway, back to food. I recommend making this salad right after a trip to your weekly farmer's market, or if you're lucky, your garden. Save for the dressing components, all the ingredients to this salad should be available right now. I love that.

This dish is great for potlucks, since it is best eaten the day it is made. If you want to bulk it up a bit, add some crumbled cotija.  Or, see my note below about using it in a soup the next day.

Late Summer Salad

makes 4 to 5 servings

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 ear of corn
1 very small zucchini
1 heaping cup of cherry tomatoes
a large handful of cilantro
Lime Vinaigrette

Lime Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp neutral oil (like canola)
1 Tbsp lime juice plus about a tsp more
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

First make the vinaigrette. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic clove with a pinch of salt until it becomes a paste. Add the oil and lime juice and slowly mix until emulsified. Adjust seasonings. If you do not have a mortar, simply mince garlic into a small jar. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a fork until emulsified.   

Mix the diced red onion with the vinaigrette in a salad bowl and let marinade for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour in the fridge.

Cut the kernels off of the ear of corn.  Cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters and slice each quarter thinly.  Add both to the salad bowl with the onion and dressing and toss well. 

If you are not planning on eating the salad for an hour or so, wait to cut the tomatoes and cilantro and instead, add them to the salad right before serving.  They will get soggy if they sit too long in the dressing. 

Otherwise, slice each cherry tomato in half, larger ones in quarters.  Coarsely chop the cilantro.  Add both to the salad bowl.  Toss to coat evenly.  Adjust seasonings. 


I'm a textural eater, so I tend to dislike leftovers.  The texture is often compromised with a dish that has sat in the fridge overnight.  It's a silly particularity, but I'm working on it.  

I am especially picky about leftover tomatoes.  As I mentioned above, they will get soggy if they sit in the salad dressing for too long, especially overnight. But, as I am just making food for myself right now, I often have too many leftovers.

My solution for using up this leftover salad was surprisingly tasty. I decided to make a black bean soup since I already had a bit of cooked beans that need to be eaten. Here is a rough recipe for that soup.

Leftover Black Bean Soup
adapted from my head

makes about 4 servings

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp oil, separated
1 very small onion or half of a regular onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
about 2 1/2 cups water
1 jalapeno pepper
any amount of leftover Late Summer Salad
sliced cabbage and cilantro for garnishing

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add onion and garlic.  Fry until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add water and simmer on low while preparing other ingredients. 

Heat a dry cast iron pan on medium heat.  Add the jalapeno pepper and dry saute until it is thoroughly blistered, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat the same cast iron pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Once fairly hot, add leftover salad.  Saute, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is cooked through and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked beans to onion broth.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth. Return to saucepan and heat on low.

Remove the stem and core of the blistered jalapeno and finely dice it. Add it to the onion broth.  Add sauteed leftover salad to broth.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Cook until heated through and serve with cabbage and cilantro. 


  1. I'm so excited to visit! Winter break. I'm there. I MISS YOU! And your place is freakin' cute! Xox!

  2. yeah Autumn! the place looks huge and great! i dub thee: Grownup! thanks for the pictures. i noticed those handsome roughsawn yet nicely oiled logs and was glad to later read that they have a story. the leftover soup with salad is a bomber idea - sounds fantastic. keep up the good montana work!

    ps. stand by while i think up your next assignment.