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the big salad 
3 one-dish summer salad meals
by Yee-Fan Sun | 
1 2 3 4

It's hot and muggy outside, the sort of heavy summer air that makes you feel like you're wearing a ten-pound coat even when you're stripped down to the bare minimum of what you can get away with, and not be arrested for public indecency that is. Your body moves in slo-mo to avoid expending any more energy than absolutely necessary; moving generates heat, which makes you sweat a useless sweat that has nowhere to evaporate. The air is supersaturated. And even staying absolutely still, the humidity seems to condense on your skin, coating you in a sticky sheen. Stuck in this heat, your brain's turned to mush. With the weather weighing you down as dinnertime rolls along, it's time for something light and fresh and none-too-taxing to throw together: the big salad.

Salads are one of my favorite foods to play around with in the kitchen, which might seem strange for a girl who loves to cook, since salads generally require no stove time at all. But I'm convinced: if you can learn to put together a decent salad, you've well on your way to being a great cook. Creating a good salad is all about balancing salty and tangy and sweet, crisp and tender; it teaches you what different ingredients have to offer, and how to highlight their flavors and textures so they're at their best. It shows you what a difference freshness and good quality can make on a dish. And if you dare to experiment -- which you should -- it rapidly reveals how flexible recipes actually are. In short, salad-making involves all the base skills requisite for fine home cooking -- without any of the fuss of actually slaving over a stove.

It's the lack of (or minimal) stove time, of course, that makes the big salad particularly appealing during these brutal summer hot spells. Now if your sole experience with salads thus far has been limited to lettuce and carrots tossed with bottled dressing, you're probably feeling skeptical that a salad can actually sate your hungry belly. But trust me, with just a little creativity and access to fresh, tasty ingredients in season, all it takes is a simple rinse, dry, chop and toss, and you'll have a healthy one-dish salad meal ready to go. Check out some of these ideas…

stroll this way for the recipes...

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