Summer Sides

With fresh ingredients in abundance, the hardest decision is deciding what to make first.

Heirloom Tomato Onion Plate

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
Vidalia onion, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Condiments such as balsamic vinegar, Peter Luger’s Steak Sauce, and a good olive oil

Sometimes, when I’m running short on time, I like to fix a platter of heirloom tomatoes and onions. I simply slice up a beautiful assortment of colorful tomatoes and a Vidalia onion or two, and then garnish with fresh basil leaves. I place a few condiments nearby for everyone to dress their own as they please. I always have an aged balsamic vinegar, Peter Luger’s Steak Sauce, and an extra-virgin olive oil.

Watermelon Steak Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

6 (1-inch) watermelon wedges, rind removed
1 cup arugula
½ cup blueberries
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

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Place watermelon wedges on a flat serving platter. Top each with several pieces of arugula and next 4 ingredients. This can be assembled several hours in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve. At serving time, drizzle with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Learn from Leslie: One-fourth of a medium-size, seedless watermelon will make about six wedges.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar. Cover tightly, and shake until thoroughly combined. This can be made up to two days in advance. Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

1 pound bow-tie pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup pepperoncini slices
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
½ cup green onions sliced (about one bunch)
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
Lemony-Dill Dressing (recipe below)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup Romano cheese, grated
Basil leaves for garnish

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini slices, and next
4 ingredients. Toss with Lemony-Dill Dressing, and refrigerate for several hours, if desired. Before serving, top with toasted pine nuts, grated Romano cheese, and fresh basil leaves.

Lemony-Dill Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon oregano

Whisk all ingredients in a medium-size measuring cup.

Old-Fashioned Marinated Vegetables

1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup green pepper, finely chopped
1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
3 ears corn, boiled, kernels removed (1 [11-ounce] can shoepeg white corn may be substituted)
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can green beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) French-style green beans, drained

Place vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine celery and next 6 ingredients. Add vinegar mixture, and toss to coat evenly. Place in a large, airtight container, and store in the refrigerator. The vegetables will keep for up to a week. Makes 8 cups (serves 10 to 12)

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