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The Best Salads of Summer 2022

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 11:41
Hugh's sungold and and saffron panzanella
Linda Pugliese/Abrams

Recipes by Jess Damuck

How do we want to eat this summer? Inspired by Salad Freak, a cool new cookbook by Jess Damuck, a Shelter Island girl made good, our menu will be fresh, fast, fun (and full of folic acid!). Read all about Damuck here.


“I remember making this salad for lunch for Martha when I was an intern. She ate it in the kitchen; it was just the two of us. Everyone was nervous. They warned me that she wouldn’t like the raw zucchini, that she didn’t like wet things. She didn’t say a thing about the zucchini, but did tell me she liked it, even though she doesn’t usually like both nuts and cheese in her salads. This salad is so simple, that’s why I think it passed the test.”

1 lemon
2 zucchini
1⁄2 cup (15 g) fresh mint leaves

Pecorino cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup (70 g) whole almonds, toasted and chopped

Make the lemony champagne vinaigrette (without mustard): In a large bowl, combine about 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar, the zest of 1 lemon, and the juice of 1⁄2 lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

Prep:  Peel 2 zucchini into long, thin ribbons with a mandoline or Y-peeler.

Assemble and serve: Toss the zucchini ribbons, 1⁄2 cup (70 g) almonds (chopped), and 1⁄2 cup (15 g) mint in the dressing. Using your Y-peeler, peel strips of cheese right over the salad, or if you prefer, make a mountain of fluffy shredded cheese using a Microplane. Season with salt and pepper.


“A good panzanella is hard to find, and a good friend like Hugh is even harder to find. The perfect panzanella needs sweetness and acidity and the right amount of juice; it needs cubes of tangy sourdough bread that won’t choke you. It needs bite — and I like something that brings a little surprise. A great panzanella is a trust-worthy go-to for any summer get-together. I can’t make a panzanella without thinking about Hugh, who loves them, and making him his own panzanella full of all of his favorite things is the least I can do, really.”

1 clove garlic
4 large yellow and orange heirloom tomatoes
1 pint (280 g) Sungold cherry tomatoes
1⁄4 cup (11 g) chopped fresh chives
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 handful chopped bronze fennel, or fennel fronds

1⁄2 boule sourdough bread (sesame bread is the best if you can find it!)
1⁄2 cup (60 g) thinly sliced pepperoncini
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) white balsamic vinegar
Big pinch saffron
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Cook: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut 1⁄2 boule bread into 1-inch-thick (2.5 cm) slices and toast on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully rub the garlic clove over the toasted side of bread. Tear the bread into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces (you should have about 5 cups/250 g). Return to the oven and bake until just golden, about 5 more minutes. Let cool.

Prep and make the saffron vinaigrette: Cut 4 heirloom tomatoes into wedges and cut 1 pint (280 g) cherry tomatoes in half. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1⁄2 cup (60 g) thinly sliced pepperoncini, 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) white balsamic vinegar, and a big pinch of safron and season with salt and pepper. Mix well (I usually just do this with clean hands to really toss everything). Let sit for a few minutes for the safron to bloom. Add 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) oil, and let this mixture sit for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours at room temperature. The longer it sits the more the tomato juice and other favors will meld and the more delicious it will be.

Assemble and serve: Toss the bread, tomato mixture, 1⁄4 cup (11 g) chopped chives, 1 handful basil, and 1 handful chopped bronze fennel to combine. Don’t do this in advance or the bread will get too mushy.

Serves six as a starter or side (excellent with grilled seafood or chicken).


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