I think you all know me well enough by now to agree that I’m not normally one for quick, decisive action, but these days, I seem to be categorically unable to carry out my preferred method of menu-planning; instead of sifting through back issues of Gourmet and long-neglected cookbooks to come up with a way-too-ambitious grocery list, I find myself flipping through my Evernote recipe collection, discouraged by all the clippings that require days of advanced planning and extensive legwork. I just don’t feel like doing any of it.
Completely uncreatively, I blame the heat. I want to make things that require as little work as possible—with one hand, preferably, so the other is free to reach for that icy-cold glass of lambrusco—so I was in the perfect frame of mind to receive yesterday’s Smitten Kitchen email. Chopped salad with feta, lime and mint. Just reading the name cooled me off a few degrees.
I made it last night, and it didn’t disappoint. I stuck with the original mix of cucumbers, radishes, and green beans, changed up the herbs a bit (culantro for mint, and a mix of cumin, za’atar and cayenne instead of straight chile powder), and swapped pine nuts for sunflower seeds, and couldn’t have asked for a better dinner. And I don’t even like green beans, really.
Refreshingly tart and crunchy, with little pockets of creamy feta and toasted nuts to offset the hint of peppery heat, this is a great summer salad—one, it should go without saying, that would be welcome at any holiday barbecue that might be on your horizon.
Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime, Mint and Sunflower Seeds
From Smitten Kitchen
3 cups chopped, crunchy vegetables [I stuck with Deb’s mix of 1 cup each of halved and thinly sliced radishes, 1/2 pound of fresh, lightly cooked, cooled green beans (cut into 1/2-inch slices), and 2 quartered and thinly sliced Kirby cucumbers]
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta, queso fresco or ricotta salata
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup well-toasted sunflower seeds, salted or unsalted [I used pine nuts because that’s what I had]
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon chile powder or 1/8 teaspoon each your choice combination of chile powder, cumin, cayenne or sumac [I used 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon za’atar, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne]
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves [I used culantro; cilantro would be great as well]
Mix the vegetables, feta, scallions, seeds and mint in a medium bowl. Whisk lime juice, olive oil, salt, spice and black pepper in a small dish and pour over vegetables, tossing to evenly coat. Adjust with more salt or pepper as needed. Garnish with mint and crunch-crunch-crunch away!