I first discovered the peculiar subcategory of chopped raw vegetables called “health salads” some 14 years ago when a friend introduced me to the many wonders of the prepared foods aisle at Zabar’s. Even then, I found the idea of one type of salad being labeled “healthy” while my other favorite in the same refrigerator case, the Mediterranean Pepper Salad with Feta and Olives was, I don’t know, something akin to a heart attack on a cracker, somewhat eye-rolling but I now realize that it was the coleslaw-like salad’s mayo-free dressing that designated it such a lofty nutritional status.
Every summer, I make a note on my Oh My God Good Vegetables Are Finally Here! cooking to-do list (what, you don’t keep one?) to post about how to make classic dill pickles. Every week they’re available, I pick up nearly a bucket of perfect-for-pickling kirby cucumbers from the Greenmarket for my cucumber-junkie family with the greatest intention of finally making good on this promise. And I never, ever do. It might be that the first couple times I tried, many years ago, my always-too-hot kitchen molded both jars, traumatizing me at the end of the jars’ incubation periods. It might be that because I live in NYC, when I want an insanely good sour pickle, I just go to The Pickle Guys on Essex Street or track down some from Guss’. Like bagels, killer soup dumplings, or Halal cart street meat, amazing pickles are in a category of food you have to be extremely driven and possibly cuckoo to make at home in NYC. I mean, I am, but apparently not enough.
If you’re one of those people who saw the word “pickled” in the title and said “Ugh, no, sorry, not for me,” do know, I was the same not too long ago and encourage you to fight the good fight for as long as you can, because once your tastes cross over to the vinegar side, there’s little going back.
So here’s one way to be just a little more welcome at that backyard barbecue slash rooftop grill-out slash pot luck picnic you were heading to this weekend. Maybe you were going to bring your usual — that pie, some buns, a slaw, an addictive potato salad, right? Maybe even some lemonade? And oh, what friends you’ll make if you do. Everyone loves a good slaw, most especially this girl.
After a winter in which I was so sick of heavy winter vegetables, I went on strike against them (and pretty much everything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Raisin Bran, if we’re being honest here), I have been having so much fun the last couple weeks hitting the markets, especially now that they’re hitting their stride. In our new neighborhood, we’re not only so much closer to the Union Square Greenmarket, but have the added bonus of a couple mini-markets that conveniently run on Union Square’s off days, and I have to confess: the tinier ones are my favorite, due to my aversion to being elbowed when I’m sifting through my produce. Call me crazy.