Salad greens just aren’t good enough

Michael Symon’s summer salad


Whether potato, pasta or chopped, salads are essential summer eating. Celebrate the delicious diversity of salads each week for 20 weeks with the best recipes by the biggest names in the food world.

Previous salad stories:
Tips to a better salad from Jacques Pepin

Try a small salad to begin a meal

A salad with it all ... but fruit

For Michael Symon, great salads go far beyond a pile of greens. And they need to earn their keep.

“For me, a great salad is much more than just greens. It should be something that really highlights the season and the vegetables that are at their peak at that time,” Symon, an award winning restaurateur and Food Network Iron Chef, said in an e-mail interview.

Just don’t include iceberg lettuce.

“I can’t stand iceberg,” he said. “It has no flavor or personality. It’s like eating chopped green ice.”

Symon, who also favors sharply acidic dressings like his mom used on her tomato salads, relies on salads to play a specific role in his cooking.

“Since I tend to cook with a lot of fattier proteins, I like to serve them topped with or accompanied by a salad, as opposed to a heavier starch,” he said. “It keeps things crisp and fresh and helps cut through the richness of the protein.”

For The Associated Press’ 20 Summer Salads series, Symon offered a simple salad inspired by what grows in his home garden and dressed with a spicy jalapeno-yogurt blend.

“I know I’m going to be grilling out a lot, so I want to create a salad that goes great with a big piece of grilled meat,” he said. “I love serving this either with a grilled half of a chicken, grilled lamb chops or a rib eye.”

Michael Symon’s Summer Salad
Start to finish: 20 minutes. Servings: 6.

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove the seeds first for less heat)
1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the salad:
2 cups arugula
1 pound assorted heirloom tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 cup diced cucumber
4 scallions, grilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup marcona almonds, roughly chopped
2 cups of cooked faro (a grain sold alongside the rice and couscous)

To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine the garlic, jalapeno, yogurt and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the mint and parsley. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, almonds and faro. Drizzle with the dressing, tossing gently to coat evenly.


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