Summer Salads

The haze and humidity in Harlem today beseeches something light and refreshing. Enter: watercress, endive, oranges, olives, brussels sprouts and red onion-- teaming up to beat the heat in two delicious seasonal salads.


The first is a twist on the classic orange and fennel salad. Watercress and endive give dynamic texture to the base with naval oranges and sliced kalmata olives adding bold flavors. A drizzle of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and black pepper rounds out this mediterranean-inspired salad.

3 cups watercress
2 endives, halved and sliced thinly
2 naval oranges
12-15 kalmata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1. Cut the endives in half and with the cut side down, slice thinly across the grain.
2. Cut the oranges into bite-size sections.
3. Remove the pits of the olives and slice lengthwise.
4. Combine watercress, endives, oranges and olives in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss to combine. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Allow the salad to sit for several minutes to allow the juice flavors to blend. Toss again before serving.


The second salad is adapted from a recipe by Merrill Stubbs, co-founder of food52. Unfortunately I had to recreate her Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino sans a mandolin, which meant getting aggressive with my Santoku knife. It's really amazing how shaving a vegetable like brussels sprouts or asparagus completely transforms the experience of eating it raw. Merrill's dish is incredibly simple to make and the flavors of the red onion, lemon, pecorino and honey-mustard dressing harmonized beautifully.

12 brussels sprouts, shaved or thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano

1. Soak the onion slices in a small bowl of cold water for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil and set dressing aside.
3. Trim the Brussels sprouts, cutting off any bruised outer leaves and slicing off a good portion of the hard root end. Using a mandoline, shave the sprouts one at a time. (Or, if no mandoline is handy, slice the sprouts as thinly as possible).
4. Put the sprouts in a serving bowl and toss gently with the onions (which you've now drained) and the dressing. Fold in the pecorino, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.

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