Hot weather, cold salads

Temperatures and tempers have been escalating lately. And nothing is more uncomfortable than a body full of heat or anger, except maybe a body enraged by both. I can't say this has been the hottest summer of my life, since I spent one summer semester in Boston living in a 5th floor walk up that practically jutted out over I-90, with no AC at all. I feel asleep every night on the floor in my underwear, engulfed by the noise of box fans and buzzing traffic, fantasizing about my next door neighbor Jay- formerly a huge tease and currently the lead singer of California Wives. Back then I cooled off by sneaking into the Boston University law library, one of the only properly air conditioned buildings within a one mile radius of my apartment, and cuddling up to Jay for a nap. Now, no such option. 

The heat in Boston offered no reparation- it was 105 every day for a week that year and fresh farm produce was way, I mean way out of my budget. I'm serious: one time I paid $8 for a single heirloom tomato at the Copley Square market as an indulgence. But as long as a I reside in the South, hellish heat is a price I will gladly pay, if only temporarily, for proper okra and tomatoes. And cucumbers and peppers and zucchini. All the things that happen to absolve the body from the effects of high temperatures. 

The heat breaks each night at 9:30 and although that's normally when I'd be winding down, I'm not wholly myself in July and August. I perk right up as soon as I have the chance to turn my oven on without throwing off the delicate balance of airflow in my home. Most recently I've been roasting vegetables that keep well and enable me to make a fine lunch the next day during the long daylight hours. 

I developed a dressing to suit them all, inspired by my friend Molly Martin who staged with Yotam Ottolenghi in London and taught me that dressing sticks to veggies (basically anything that isn't lettuce or greens) best when it's thickened with roasted garlic. And when I say "roasted," I mean GBDAF: golden brown and delicious as fuck. Not just soft. Not just a little brown. I mean fully the shade and smell of caramel. 

I'm about as lazy as cooks come, so I make a two veggie/one herb salad on my best of days. My favorites have been: roasted okra with cucumbers at cilantro (pictured), roasted sweet potato with avocado and chives, and roasted rainbow carrots with mint and chile flakes. Maybe if I've slept particularly well the night before, I throw on some extra sesame seeds and a soft boiled egg, also pre-cooked and chilled under the cover of night. 

Roasted garlic sesame dressing
-yields about 1/3 cup. I recommend making as much as one head of garlic will give you. 

1T roasted garlic
2T coconut sugar
2T toasted sesame oil
3T lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic so that all the cloves are exposed. Place in a sturdy piece of tin foil and drizzle generously with grapeseed oil and salt. Wrap tightly.
3. Bake garlic on a small sheet pan for an hour, or until the cloves are deeply golden brown. Let it cool completely before handling.
4. Combine all ingredients with fork or in a small food processor until garlic is smooth and sugar is dissolved. 
5. Serve drizzled over cold roasted or fresh vegetables (see suggestions above).