Languid days, firefly twilights: this salad just yearns to be made when the calendar hits July and refreshment needs to be close at hand. This quenching dish is an homage to the fruits of summer (and the herbs as well), with watermelon and tomatoes combining with mint to form its heart.
When my brother Jeff moved to California, he fell in love with avocados. In fact, he became so enamored with this luscious fruit that he began pestering me to create “avotatoes”—an avocado mashed potato recipe—for this book. I’d do almost anything for him, but there are some places a sister just can’t go. Still, I wanted to feature avocado because I love them too—for their flavor and texture, and for their incredible anti aging properties. While they do contain a fair amount of fat, it’s monounsaturated—the kind the body thrives on (in moderation, of course), and they’re a great source of the antioxidant glutathione.
Cherries have a short summer growing season, so you’ll want to make the most of them when they show their cute, plump selves. Here the sweetness of the roasted cherries, the peppery freshness of arugula and the bite of goat cheese with a high note of balsamic vinegar is especially delicious.
Beets are the power player here; they contain natural nitrates, which the body turns into nitric oxide, which in turn expands the walls of blood vessels and increases blood and oxygen flow to benefit the brain and other parts of the body.
One of the great things about traveling is that it gets you out of food ruts. When you’re in a different part of the country, or of the world, it’s hard to ignore local fare. When an eighty-year-old nonna puts a strange salad in front of you, what are you going to say—“No?” I remember the first time I saw this salad in Italy. My initial reaction was, “Oranges with cracked pepper? Really?!”