The Most Important Seasoning for Summer Produce and 7 Places to Put it, Starting NOW
I'm not about to beat around the bush on this. The most important resident of your spice cabinet during the summer months is this: salt.
'Tis the season of being almost overwhelmed by fresh, vibrant produce that is inherently full of flavor. And to best enjoy your basket of ripe and ready farmer's market finds in their purest--and what many would argue is their greatest--form (i.e. raw), you need to keep the salt handy. This inexpensive staple is the crux of summer eating.
This is one of those things that food people (i.e. chefs, test kitchen professionals, etc.) often consider a given... that even if it's not being used in a recipe or being cooked at all, your produce still needs to be treated with that single key ingredient, a light sprinkling of salt, to reach its full flavor potential. A little pinch is all you need, but that little pinch of salt helps wake up your taste buds--it enhances flavor vibrancy, makes sweet things taste sweeter, and even encourages juiciness.
Now, here are the 7 summer essentials that inarguably require salting in the raw:
I start with these because they might be the most important. Whether in you layering them into a BLT or serving straight heirloom slices on a plate--please, come to the light, salt your maters.
Beefsteak Tomato Salad with Fried Tomato Skins
Watermelon, cantaloup, honeydew, all of it. The salt plays up a ripe and refreshing summer melon's juicy sweetness in ways you wouldn't believe.
Summer Melon Salad
This is the key to the best salads of your life--embrace simplicity. Lightly dress your greens (arugula, baby spinach, etc.) with a drizzle of oil and a touch of acid, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss. Bam.
Arugula and Mushroom Salad
Slicing a cuke up for a cooling snack? Give those slices a light salt shower--taste the difference.
I'm convinced one of the most delightful things in this world a sliced baguette (generously) smeared with butter and topped with thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkling of coarse salt. I mean it.
I'm counting zucchini and yellow squash here. If you're a fan of raw ribbon salads or spiralized situations, see how much bigger of a fan you become once you give your veggies a little salt.
Squash Ribbon Salad
I mean, obviously. Imagine unsalted guac. Gross.