Summer salads are one of my favorite things. If you couldn’t tell, look through the salad archives. I am all ABOUT the cool, the crispy, the sweet and the tangy, and the fresh fresh fresh. Summer is the single best time of the year for salads, because we can experiment, we have access to fresh produce that we won’t see for half of the year, and it’s hot outside. Cool salads rule in the summer heat!
Summer is upon us, and one of my favorite things about the season are fresh, chilled salads. They make a great snack, side dish, or even a light lunch. This time of year, there are always at least one, and up to three or four, different kinds of chilled salads in our fridge. One of my favorites is Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish made with coarse bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley. It’s fresh and light, with the brightness of lemon juice, and I learned a tip from the amazing folks at America’s Test Kitchen that makes every bite a burst of amazing summer flavors.
I’m not Italian, but I can’t deny the appeal of a house that smells like slow-cooked tomato sauce — the herbs, the garlic, a hint of pork, maybe some soft Italian bread. Here in Oklahoma where I live, autumn is creeping in and the evenings are becoming perfectly chilly. Excellent weather for some spaghetti and meatballs, don’tcha think? I can’t tell you this is my Grandma Nonna’s recipe handed down for generations, but it’s dang easy, and super tasty. It’s also great for feeding a crowd, or very versatile for leftovers! Here’s my take on what a lot of Italian-Americans call, “Red Gravy,” which is a meat-based hearty tomato sauce.
Two posts in a row? Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! This one dates back a few weeks though, so …
Way back when I had some time to really get down to cooking, a friend of ours announced a salsa contest! About 40 folks got together, about 25 salsas, ranging in heat level from 1 to 10, sharing their favorite homemade salsas, conversation, and an absolutely beautiful day by the lake.
I, meanwhile, because I am an overachiever and a little cray-cray, got all Martha Stewart up in hurr and had to make and enter five salsas.
For the record, here’s what I entered — I can get the recipes together if anyone would like them!
1). Sunburst, made with ripe golden tomatoes, yellow sweet peppers, lemon drop hot peppers, garlic, cilantro, etc.
2) What John named “Green-go Sauce”, a salsa verde with some avocado added.
3) “Hot Mess,” a fire roasted salsa. The tomatoes, onions, garlic, and jalapeños were all charred and roasted under the broiler in the oven before assembling.
4) “Gratuitous Violet,” a fresh pico-style salsa made with Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes, sweet red peppers, spicy red Anaheim chiles, white onions, garlic and cilantro.
and 5) “Lightning Sauce,” a cooked taco sauce-style entry made from heirloom tomatoes, a lightning pepper, garlic, onions, blended until smooth.
To my surprise, in the mild-to-medium category, I won first AND second place! Bragging rights to be held over until Salsapalooza II, but I got a ton of complements on all five entries. I’ve never really won anything for my cookin’, so I am super way proud today. I am letting myself feel a little bit like a rock star!
The voting was everyone at the picnic, so everyone brought salsa, tasted salsa, and then voted for your top two choices in each category. My purple pico and lightning sauce were 6-8 heat so were in the spicy category, and the other three were in mild. The green avocado sauce and the fire-roasted salsa swept the mild to medium category, a 3 and a 5 respectively.
I voted for salsas that weren’t my own, because I genuinely appreciated their creativity and flavors. To come home from a friendly competition with other foodies and salsa lovers and to have the win is really an honor.
I’m actually thinking of really entering some competitive cooking stuff. I need more hours in the day so I can fit in all the fun!!
What’s your favorite salsa or dip?
Ever since we had John’s Baked Ziti a few weeks ago, I’ve been jonesing for pasta. I didn’t need anything particularly cheesy, but I really wanted the richness and comfort of some meaty noodles. Meaty. Noodles.
I had always wanted to try to make a ragu/ragout style meat sauce, and started checking around for ideas and recipes involving bolognese. “Authentic” Italian bolognese isn’t a tomatoey marinara spaghetti sauce with meat, like most of us grew up on. It’s really focused on the meat, and has a base of fresh caramelized veggies. The more recipes and pictures I perused, the more clear it became that I had to make pasta with bolognese sauce.
Friends, please welcome John to the blog. I couldn’t pass up the chance to post about his “famous” Baked Ziti, so I hope you enjoy it.
Hello there, Team SaltySassy! This is John, Michelle’s significant other. I’m adding to the blog today, since Baked Ziti is one of my signature dishes, and one she and our circle of friends like.
I tried baked ziti a few times growing up. I’ve always enjoyed Italian food, but many of the top dishes have something a bit off: Spaghetti and meat sauce is common, pizza is Americanized, lasagna is too often frozen, tiramisu is just someone spilling coffee on dessert. Ziti, however is like a casserole done RIGHT: loud and varied flavors, sticks to your ribs, and more personality than anything else that came out of a baking dish. And unlike other casseroles, it was unlikely to have the leftovers go bad from being ignored, principally because leftovers rarely survived.
Cold, crisp, bright fruit and vegetable salads are one of my favorite things during the summer, but some of them enjoy a place in our kitchen year-round. Here’s one that is part of the menu at Casa Sass most of the time, and I hope you’d enjoy it as much as we do.
I come from a long line of German cooks, and one of the favorites around my house growing up was a type of marinated sliced cucumbers and onions, and they’re bathed in a very vinegary brine with salt and pepper. It’s still on my “great stuff to eat” list, and I tend to make it around holiday meals since we always had it at larger family meals at my mom’s house. I don’t remember exactly when I started making this variation, but I have learned that other people also have their own versions of it, so it’s not the most unique side dish in the world. However…
This is cucumber-tomato salad. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
(Apologies to the USMC). 🙂
Summer is a great time for snacks. Snacks is a great time for chips. Chips are a great reason for salsa. Therefore, Summer = a great reason for salsa.
If you’re anything like me, you do appreciate America’s #1 condiment on all kinds of stuff — chips, meats, eggs, tortillas, crackers… any reason for some salsa. At $2-$4 a jar for “good” salsa at the grocery, why not make it ourselves? That’s what we’re going to do today for a fraction of the cost of storebought, plus it’s 100x more delicious.