I have been eating the best salads of my life the last couple of weeks, just simple green salads with a few vegetables that are little miracles of deliciousness.
They are based on local lettuce, which is what makes them miraculous. Who could be growing good lettuce in this prolonged heat? A nice guy with a farm in Oxford called Locust Run Farms brings coolers full of lettuce to the tailgate market in Pleasant Ridge on Mondays. (I'm not sure what other markets he goes to) He has all kinds of varieties, from buttercrunch heads to crispy, iceberg types (Not tightly packed heads, but crispy leaves) and other very tender-leaved kinds--there's one with a funny German name that means "trout" he says--I can't remember the name right now--it's speckled like a trout. I buy three or four kinds and use a little in each salad. I've also been adding pea sprouts from the kids at the Eco-Gardens who sell at Findlay Market.
Then there are the wonderful varieties of salad tomatoes in all the markets now. Hyde Park market,http://www.hydeparkfarmersmarket.com/ especially, has farmers with every possible color and size. They give salads a blazing palette of yellow through orange and pink to bright red, are all really sweet.
Finally, I have found the most extravagant way to dress a salad, and I'm afraid I now have a rather expensive habit. Shoshannah Hafner at Honey mentioned to me a vinegar called Minus 8, http://http://www.minus8vinegar.com/which is trendy among fancy chefs. It's made like an ice wine from frozen grapes in Canada. It comes in a slender bottle and it costs $59.99. (though I've seen in cheaper online) Not quite as expensive as a super-good balsamic. I've been putting it on vegetables, I used some in a chicken salad, I added a little to a pan sauce, and it improved all of those things. But I'm most in love with it as a simple vinaigrette with olive oil on a green salad. It's so subtle, so full of flavor, and has no harshness at all. I'm going to have to give up some other things in my life to buy it. You can use a very small amount, and less salad dressing all together, too, since it's so flavorful. Buy it at Hyde Park Gourmet Food and Wine. www.hydeparkgourmet.com