“What should we have for supper that involves minimal oven use?” is my main inquiry during the summer months. “Should we go get some Nestle™ Drumsticks?” is another very popular question around these parts.
Cooking in a home without air conditioning is an art in itself. A very sweaty art that takes planning, else you’ll find yourself hangry and waiting impatiently for a cheap pizza delivery. (This is okay, too!)
On one of the sweatiest days so far this month, I chose my recipe wisely: Crook’s Corner’s Green Peach Salad.
Peaches and mint. I barely glanced at anything else in the recipe before deciding it was The One. I love a good salad – especially a creative one without lettuce – and this was a solid summer salad! Sweet, salty, and crunchy thanks to the unripe peaches. That’s a pretty delicious trifecta.
I followed the recipe to a T, and would amend only one thing the next time I make it: Tone down the olive oil from 2 tbsp. to 1 tbsp. And remember: Eat the salad the day you make it. Leftovers did not fare so well… but I ate them anyway!
Recipe Rating: 4 Knives out of 5.
So, what else is great on a hot, sticky summer evening? A cold beverage. Louisa Shafia’s Watermelon, Mint and Cider Vinegar Tonic (WMCVT) was one recipe I kept flipping back to because the combo of ingredients just sounded so interesting… and, well, because I had a boatload of leftover mint in the fridge.
The outcome of the recipe (WMCVT Version 1)? While the beverage was cold and refreshing, it tasted a little too much like flat Kombucha to me. Good, but not great. I decided to try something else and diluted the tonic with club soda instead of water (WMCVT Version 2). Better, but still under the category of “good.”
Also, I was left standing with a whack of brined, unused watermelon. The recipe mentions, “…eat the watermelon chunks, if desired.” Well, yeah! Why waste 6 cups of perfectly edible fruit? Thus, enter WMCVT Version 3: The tonic, cold water, puréed watermelon. Yes! We were onto something here…
One final attempt to make this beverage great and I nailed it! WMCVT Version 4 is the one you want to make: The tonic, club soda, puréed watermelon. Now THIS tasted like summer in a glass! I didn’t booze it up up, but gin would be a tasty addition, too.
Original Recipe Rating: 2 Knives out of 5.
WMCVT Version 4 Recipe Rating: 5 Knives out of 5.
Stay cool, cats!
Crook’s Corner’s Green Peach Salad
By Genius Recipes
How to make good on rock hard peaches, from Chef Bill Smith’s 2005 cookbook Seasoned in the South.
- 2 1/2 pounds unripe peaches, peeled and sliced as for pie
- Scant 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons strong-flavored extra-virgin olive oil, like Greek or Lebanese
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint chiffonade
- Toss the peaches with the sugar and salt. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
- Fold in the pepper, oil, and mint.
- Serve cold within a few hours of preparation, as it will become mushy overnight.
Louisa Shafia’s Watermelon, Mint, and Cider Vinegar Tonic
By Genius Recipes
Even if drinking vinegar sounds like a dare — and maybe that’s why you ordered it — it’s anything but. It’s sweet and sour and icy-cold. It vibrates and clangs with fruit and vinegar, and soothes with sweetness and mint. It is the most refreshing drink you will have this summer. And because it’s a grown-up drink without alcohol, you can take it on a picnic, at any park, without having to look side-eyed at cops that might pass by. From The New Persian Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2013).
Makes 5 cups concentrate
- 3 cups water, plus more to serve
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup honey
- 6 cups coarsely chopped watermelon
- 1 cup tightly packed fresh mint
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- Ice cubes
- Sliced watermelon, sliced unwaxed cucumber, and spearmint, for garnish
- Bring the 3 cups water and the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the honey, stir to dissolve, and remove from the heat.
- Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl. Stir in the honey-water and let cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar. Steep the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.
- Strain the mixture and eat the watermelon chunks, if desired. Pour the concentrate into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- To serve, pour 1/4 cup of the concentrate into a glass over ice and dilute with 3/4 cup water. Garnish with the watermelon, cucumber, and mint.