As I’ve probably mentioned before, cooking in the summer is a drag. It’s hot and a tiny kitchen with no windows is the worst place you can choose to be, which is why my strategy for summer meals involves a lot of cold items that take minimal amounts of prep, but are still delicious. Utilizing produce that’s in season will “up” your meals on the deliciousness scale, and even with all the different nutrition data out there, whole foods are still generally your best bet.
I am attempting to do Weight Watchers here in Japan (a more in-depth post on that coming soon) and fruit counts for zero points, so every meal of my day is accompanied by some sort of fruit. By dinner time, I try to find a way to use fruit in a savory context, and it just so happens that savory fruit salad is simple to prepare and requires no cooking whatsoever. Since peaches are in season at the moment, I have been eating this delicious peach salad on a regular basis. Here’s what you’ll need:
peaches: I use one peach for two people, so up the quantity as necessary. I keep the skin on, slice around the pit like a mango and slice into strips.
watermelon: seeded and sliced into bite-sized pieces.
cucumber: one cucumber thinly sliced.
basil: I slice my basil using the classic chiffonade method. Stack leaves on top of one another, roll them up like a cigarette and slice in thin ribbons vertically. For this salad I use at least five large basil leaves, adjust to your taste. Mint will work in a pinch, but I prefer the savory quality of basil. Sweet, lime, Thai, any type of basil is fine.
vinegar: I use white wine vinegar because it is what I can find here in Japan, but champagne vinegar, riesling vinegar or any manifestation of a white vinegar will work.
honey: whatever floats your boat, organic or the stuff that comes in that cute bear-shaped bottle.
Take a couple tablespoons of your vinegar and mix with at least a teaspoon of honey. Add more for a sweeter dressing. Whisk until blended. Toss the sliced peaches, basil, cucumber in a bowl and drizzle with the vinegar dressing. If you want to prepare ahead of time, chill the salad in the refrigerator and add dressing at the time of serving. A little fresh ground pepper on top never hurt anyone.
Mix and match: This salad is great because the above are the basic building blocks, and almost any fruit you can think to add will be delicious. I added avocado once, plum another time. Adding all this at once might just send your taste buds into a state of nirvana. I’m not sure, you ought to try it and let me know. Thinly sliced apples would add a nice crunch; sliced grapes would lend moisture and pineapple or mango would add sweetness. The possibilities are virtually endless, I would only suggest abstaining from banana. Keep the bananas at breakfast where they belong. For some reason after writing this, the image of a lonely banana sitting in a corner labeled “Breakfast” came to mind, and now I feel very sad…
But seriously, even if you feel bad for the bananas, leave them out. Other savory additions that could be enjoyable include red onion, radish, shallot (good luck finding this in Japan because I sure haven’t), a squeeze of lime juice, and a couple drops of chili oil. So have fun experimenting or take this to a summer potluck and have fun experimenting on others!