Creamy homemade dressing.

I’ve got little patience for fussy cooking in the summer. It’s time to enjoy whole foods at their peak ripeness.

Not only are salads extra tasty this time of year in my part of the world, but they also are fast, easy, and infinitely customizable. It’s nice to come home to a no-brainer meal after errands, a bike ride, yard work, treasure hunting at rummage sales, etc. What’s best, though, is coming home from the farmers market with salad fixings. Now you’re talking!

The June issue of Everyday Food featured a tasty creamy salad dressing base with six variations: green goddess, roasted garlic, ranch, blue cheese, thousand island, and peppercorn-Parmesan. I opted for the peppercorn-Parm dressing, but instead of mixing in 2 ounces grated Parm, I used Pecorino Romano.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from EDF:

Creamy Salad Dressing Base
For 2 cups of dressing, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt), 1/4 cup mayo, and desired mix-in(s) (for instance, grated Parm). Salt and pepper to taste.

Generally I’m a vinaigrette woman, but creamy dressing now and then is a special treat.

I also endorse the following perhaps-out-of-the-ordinary salad accessories, although probably not all at the same time:

  • Poached egg (no dressing necessary with a drippy yolk!)
  • Crushed tortilla chips (a good way to kill the end of a bag of Tostitos)
  • Salsa
  • Jarred or canned olives
  • Jarred or canned artichoke hearts
  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Cottage cheese
  • Canned beans (black, Cannellini)
  • Bacon or prosciutto
  • Lunch meat cut into strips
  • Nuts
  • Good squeeze of lemon

As you can see, salads are a great way to purge a pantry or fridge. On the other side, if you’re extra ambitious, grill chicken or turkey breasts the next time you’ve got the Weber fired up for different meal. More than likely you’ll have enough residual heat after burgers and dogs to cook salad toppings for later in the week. Easy, easy, easy.

For many, many, many more ideas and inspiration, check out the recipe indices at 101 Cookbooks, Kath Eats Real Food, and Pink of Perfection. These bloggers romance salads in big, exciting ways.

How do you top your salads? I’m always looking for tasty combos.