Most Americans view the Fourth as a day for grilling, cranking homemade ice cream one of three times a year and piling on the potato salad. Whether you’re grilling over a Weber kettle or a stainless-steel outdoor Viking the size of an SUV, the chances are excellent that you’ll be cooking outdoors this weekend, even if it rains.
Here are a few terrific salads to complement your grilled meats and vegetables. If cooking in this weather sounds too challenging, give yourself a break, lug home an immense watermelon, some corn, a tasty tub of coleslaw and some breaded or rotisserie-roasted chicken from our deli, and have yourself a fine traditional feast without lifting a paw. Here’s to a happy Fourth of July!
Green-Dressed Potato Salad
Makes 4 servings
16–24 oz. French fingerling potatoes
2 dry bay leaves
4 Chives, including heads, or 2 scallions
1–2 Tbs. capers
8 bottled anchovy filets
1 Tbs. Italian parsley
¼–½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
2–3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
black pepper, freshly ground
Bring pot of cold water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add lots of salt—the idea is that you are salting the potatoes as they cook. If you are using 2 quarts of water to cook the potatoes, use 1½ tsp. sea salt per qt. or 1 Tbs. kosher salt.
While water is coming to boil, peel potatoes; slice crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Add to pot with bay leaves when water is boiling. Bring back to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender (about 7–10 minutes).
Drain potatoes in colander and leave them to cool while you make dressing: fold Chinese chives in half, cut off the bottom ½ inch, then mince finely crosswise, including their heads. Slightly mash capers, and thinly slice or lightly mash anchovies. With a fork, beat olive oil into fresh lemon juice until it becomes thick. Add black pepper.
Mound potatoes on large plate and top with celery, Chinese chives, capers, anchovies, and parsley. Anoint with lemon vinaigrette. Let sit for about 10 minutes until potatoes have absorbed most of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
1 c. Le Puy (French green) lentils
2 c. water
1 tsp. olive oil
½ white onion, stuck with 2 cloves
Wash the lentils, then place them in a heavy pan or pressure cooker, add 2” of water above the lentils, olive oil, onion, and cloves. Cook (consult your pressure cooker’s operating manual for pressure cooking time; in a stovetop saucepan, simmer for 15–30 minutes) until lentils suit your taste.
Drain quickly and rinse under cold water to cool down.
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ c. feta cheese, crumbled
½ c. toasted walnut halves
¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c. walnut oil
freshly ground black pepper
Combine lentils, scallions, parsley, feta, and walnut halves in a serving bowl.
Make a vinaigrette from lemon juice and walnut oil. Season with salt and pepper; vinaigrette should be quite salty, because lentils are real salt sinks.
Using your hands, gently distribute vinaigrette throughout salad. (Note: If you use tongs, forks, or spoons instead, the delicate feta will be reduced to an ugly cream.)
Serve at room temperature. The salad tastes best if it sits out for about 30 minutes before you wolf it down—but only leave it out that long at 68° or lower!
Thai Beef Salad with Mint
8 oz beef tenderloin or sirloin
4 c. torn Boston or romaine lettuce, mesclun, etc.
1 c. torn fresh mint leaves
¼ c. minced red onion
1 med. cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and diced
juice of 2 limes
1 Tbs. fish sauce
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
1 tsp. sugar
Grill or boil beef until medium rare, 5–10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Toss greens with mint, onion, and cucumber.
Combine all remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon of water—mixture will be thin—and toss greens with this dressing. Remove greens to a platter, reserving dressing remaining at bottom of a bowl.
Slice cooled beef thinly, reserving its juice. Combine juice with leftover dressing. Lay slices of beef over salad, drizzle dressing all over, and serve.