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Let's eat

Summer vegetable salad with lemony ricotta

(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)
By Sally Pasley Vargas
Globe Correspondent / August 18, 2010

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Serves 4

Think of this salad as the little green dress of summer: Add lightly blanched fiddleheads and asparagus in the spring, all kinds of vegetables like yellow pattypan squash, baby zucchini, fennel, and slender green beans in the summer. When it comes to greens, take advantage of what comes into season, including herbs. A few sprigs of soft tarragon or some mint leaves will add flair to your bowl. The star of this show, though, is ricotta. Seek out the very best you can find, perhaps some from Quincy-based Purity Cheese Co. or a blissfully creamy brand such as Liuzzi Angeloni from Connecticut (both at A. Russo & Sons in Watertown). It’s mixed with lemon rind and placed on the greens like a puff of whipped cream on dessert.

VINAIGRETTE

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

2. Gradually whisk in the oil until the dressing emulsifies. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

SALAD

Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 fennel bulb, tops trimmed and cut into 4 wedges
1 pound slender green beans, trimmed
2 endives
1 head frisee lettuce or 1 head red-leaf lettuce, cored and torn up
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have on hand a large bowl of ice water.

2. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the lemon rind and a pinch of salt.

3. Add the fennel to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Add the green beans and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Use tongs to transfer the vegetables to the ice water. Spread the vegetables on paper towels until you are ready to toss the salad.

4. In a large bowl, toss the greens and vegetables. Add dressing, a little at a time, until the salad is lightly dressed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Arrange the salad on 4 plates. Garnish with ricotta and sprinkle with a little more dressing.