Monday, May 23, 2011

Simple Smushy Summer Salad

Simple Smushy Summer Salad

Summertime is almost here. Ahh... the winter visitors are starting to head back home and soon we will get a little peace. The streets are quieting down the and soon life here in the desert will come to it’s annual “Sonoran” snails pace. For me, that is the best time of the year. It requires me to slow down and live the way people have been living in the desert for centuries. Drink a little more water, hide from the sun, take a nap and do what little work is needed in the cool mornings or late afternoon. If you’re new to the area and like to sip on a cold beer while doing those little chores, I will give you a trick that the old timers have been using for as long as anyone can remember. Don’t decide until you try it. Iced beer… I mean pouring your favorite beer into a glass of good store bought ice. Yes, it waters down the beer and that’s the point. In fact, you end up drinking almost as much water as beer. Which will make you feel much better due to the fact that alcohol dehydrates. Now that you’ve got your mind around that idea, try this; one half tomato juice, or your favorite Bloody Mary mix, and half beer on ice. The ice re-hydrates you and the tomato juice keeps your potassium up.

I learned this while working construction, in Phoenix, in my early twenties. We would start as soon as there was enough light to see and then we would work through lunch to avoid an extra half hour in the sun. After work we would stop for a cold beer. All the older guys, who were mostly Latinos, would drink their beer on ice, many with tomato juice. When I asked them about it they told me “in the heat straight beer makes you tired!” So I gave it a try, I felt refreshed and so will you.

The heat can ruin your appetite. So summertime meal preparation is also an acquired skill. Light and fresh is the main idea. Combine that with dishes that are easy to prepare and that don’t heat up the house. Now you’re on the right track.

The following recipe is not only easy and refreshing it’s also fun for the kids to help make. Why? When squishing the little tomatoes they squirt all over the place and to a kid, anything that makes a mess is fun.

Simple Smushy Summer Salad

This is great recipe for gardeners that have too many tomatoes on their hands.

3 C Assorted Tomatoes (you know little ones, big ones, in as many colors as possible)

3/4 C Kalamata Olives, with pits

1/2- 3/4 Cups Fresh Arugula Or Basil

For the Dressing

2 TBL Red Wine Vinegar

1/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Ground Black Pepper

If using salad tomatoes cut them up first. If using only the little baby tomatoes no need to cut them. Smash the tomatoes, in a large mixing bowl, until broken up but not pulp, with a large fork or potato masher. Smash the olives on a cutting board with a rolling pin and remove the pits. Add to the tomatoes Toss in arugula or basil. Whisk together oil, vinegar and pepper. Stir in just before serving. Salt to taste.

Also great on cold, oiled, angel hair pasta.

Serves 4-6 as a salad

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