How To Make A Caesar Salad

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I make Caesar salads all the time and whenever I do, I forget to take pictures. Maybe it’s because it’s such a loosey-goosey process–how much garlic, how much anchovy, how much Parmesan & lemon is all a matter of taste–but, still, my Caesar salad is very good (as evidenced by this post). So, instead of waiting for the next opportunity to take pictures, I thought I would illustrate the process for you with a program I just downloaded called Paintbrush. Prepare to be amazed by my illustrious illustrating skills!

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Heirloom Tomato Salad

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Despite this month’s banner, one of my favorite dishes to serve in summer is an heirloom tomato salad. It’s a dish that does the work for you: just buy an array of quirkily beautiful heirloom tomatoes–as many colors and shapes as you can find at the farmer’s market–cut them into slices or wedges and serve them with torn-bread croutons, green basil (plus purple basil if you can find it) and some shaved ricotta salata on top. The finished plate looks something like this….

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Sugar Snap Peas with Whipped Ricotta

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We ate a wonderful dish at Franny’s a few weeks ago of sugar snap peas (my favorite springtime vegetable) served on a cloud of whipped ricotta resting in a sea of olive oil. It was such a beautiful dish–the bright greenness of the snap peas, the cooling creaminess of the ricotta–that not only did I serve it as an appetizer at the dinner I cooked for Lizzie and Tyla, but I also served it again two days later when I cooked a dinner for Diana’s birthday. And both times it was a big hit.

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Greek Salad

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It’s true that travel is an important component of any burgeoning chef’s education, but sometimes you go somewhere and the lessons don’t stick. For example, I spent ten days last summer in Spain–most of that time in Barcelona–and though we ate some truly extraordinary food, I can’t really say that it changed the way I cook. Yes, I use smoked paprika a bit more freely in my food and I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of pairing chickpeas with seafood, but beyond that? I’m still the same old me in the kitchen.

However, the trip I took in 2005 with my family to Greece (see here), stuck in a very important way: I now make a very good, very authentic Greek salad.

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Watermelon Salad

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Have you been watching “The Next Food Network Star”? It’s a good show: an honest look at what it takes to become an on-air food personality.

Last week’s loser, Eddie, forgot what show he was on–he probably thought he was on “Top Chef”–when he razzed working mom Melissa in the kitchen. Eddie, this show is all about image: you can’t pick on sweet, warm mother figures if you want to go far! Plus, for his dish, which he served to the grandest dame on FoodTV, Ina Garten, he pilfered a recipe from Paula Dean; a watermelon salad that I’ve shared with you before. Except, in Eddie’s version he used way too many onions. Those onions sent him packing: no one gives Ina Garten onion breath. But that salad is worth revisiting–it’s one of my favorites.

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The Barefoot Contessa’s Wheat Berry Salad

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There are many words one might use to describe me–“enthusiastic,” “smiley,” “mildly irritating”–but “hippie” probably isn’t one of them. Sure, I may walk around in sandals in the summer, but who doesn’t? And true, Janice is my favorite Muppet and my aunt Cindy (my dad’s sister) was photographed blowing a bubble at Woodstock (see here) but I’m too neurotic to be a hippie. My motto isn’t “Free Love,” it’s “Wash Your Hands After Touching Your Shoelaces Because They’re Really Dirty.” Which leads to a very important question: if I’m not a hippie, how can it be possible that I have not one but TWO recipes for Wheat Berry salad?

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Wheat Berry Salad

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There are two kinds of cravings: the bad kind and the good kind. Most of us are familiar with the bad kind: it sends us to Dunkin’ Donuts at 2 AM, keen on devouring a stale toasted coconut doughnut beneath the fluorescent glare. It’s the craving that forces hamburgers when you should be thinking salad, it’s the craving that tells you to add cream to that tomato sauce to make it oh-that-much-more decadent. And lots of cheese. And to make brownies for dessert which you serve with vanilla ice cream.

So, yes, we all know that craving. But every now and then a different kind of craving comes along; it’s a rare craving, the kind of craving that if it happens to you, count yourself among the lucky: it’s a craving to eat something heathy. When this happens, the clouds part, the sun beats down on your face and a choir of angels bursts into song. Should you have this craving, there’s no better place to turn than to my friend Heidi’s excellent cookbook, Super Natural Cooking.

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Chickpea Salad

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Cheap and easy: that’s my new motto (and reputation), especially at lunch. Yes–times are hard, even for your friendly Amateur Gourmet. “But you just went to Momofuku Ko,” you might say and I’d say back, “Yes, and wiped myself clean!” Especially now that I’ve done my taxes: to quote my rabbi, “Oy!”

No more lunches out, then: from now on it’s sandwiches and leftovers. And the occasional chickpea salad like the one you see above.

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