A Simple Summer Salad

Starting at this time of the year, I do not want the oven or the stove-top to be on. Nor do I want hot soup or steaming vegetables for lunch or dinner. For this light lunch with JoAnn, we started with a glass of cucumber water. I got the idea a number of years ago when we traveled to Virginia for a family wedding. After a flight and a taxi cab in the high heat of a Virginia summer, we stumbled into the hotel lobby, tired and sweaty and, at least on my part, grumpy as hell. Plopping down on a couch, I looked up and saw a large carafe of icy water, through which the cloudy visage of floating cucumber slices and watermelon pieces could be seen. I poured myself a cup, quickly downed it, and poured another. It was such a refreshing treat, the notion of a fruit-festooned pitcher of ice water has remained a source of relief from summer heat.

For the salad, a friend recommended thinly sliced fennel on a bed of arugula, with a simple Dijon vinaigrette (utilizing that wondrous white balsamic vinegar).

A few slices of cherry tomatoes for color, and a topping of grilled chicken (not done on the grill, but purchased already cooked from the Fresh Market – because when it’s 95 degrees out you don’t even want to grill).

To add further color, and another side dish of cool flesh, we repeated that simple take on tomatoes that so enraptured me earlier, with a yellow heirloom that made all the difference.

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