Salad Days of Summer

Kitchen Guy | Summer 2016

You can thank me later, but I’ve just saved your summer picnic from the curse of mayonnaise spoiling by creating a potato salad that requires no mayonnaise. Granted, it’s not chunky or creamy like the potato salad you may be used to. But some picnics just aren’t the same without potato salad and once you taste this, you may decide it’s worth forgoing the mayonnaise all year long.

For all of you spiceheads, I’ve put together a mixture that incorporates two classic Korean ingredients: kimchi and buckwheat noodles. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage mixture that, like salsa, goes from mild to extremely hot. If the kimchi you find in your supermarket is not hot enough for your taste, then add red pepper flakes.

Finally, my favorite salad EVER is Caprese (please pronounce it kah-pray-zay, not kuh-preece). The ingredients never vary, but I’m always experimenting with different presentations. For a while,  I made a Caprese Tower, stacking my tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. But when I found a batch of long, fat Roma tomatoes, I went with the version presented in this article.

And I close by making this promise: Eat these salads and stay in bathing suit shape.

Chef salad
Chef salad


No-Spoil Potato Salad 


  • 3 large Russett potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced


  1. Place potato slices in a microwave-safe baking dish or glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, poke some holes in the plastic to vent the steam, and microwave on high for 9 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stop the microwave every 3 minutes, remove the plastic wrap very carefully and mix the potatoes.
  2. In another bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, oil, dill and salt. Whisk vigorously. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
  3. Just before service, gently mix in the sliced cucumbers, taste and adjust seasoning.
Potato Salad 
Potato Salad 

Spice Summer Noodle Salad


  • 2 large cucumbers, cut into long skinny shreds
  • 10 oz Kimchi*
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 14 oz Asian noodles (Korean buckwheat are best)

*Kimchi is a classic Korean salad, frequently quite spicy. If your supermarket carries it, generally it will be displayed near the won ton wrappers, bean sprouts, and fresh ginger in the produce section.


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the cucumber shreds, kimchi, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sesame seeds, vinegar and sugar and distribute evenly.
  2. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil and add noodles. Cook for about
  3. 7 minutes, stirring to prevent clumping. Korean buckwheat noodles are very thin and cook quickly. Strain and run through cold water to chill.
  4. Add half the cooled and strained noodles to the salad mixture and toss gently to dress the noodles. With the remaining half, arrange on top of the salad in a decorative swirl to present in an authentic Korean style.
Noodle Salad



  • 4 large and long Roma tomatoes
  • 12 extra-large basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar syrup*
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Balsamic syrup is now sold near the vinegars. Or you can make your own by reducing a half cup of balsamic vinegar over medium low heat. When the vinegar is reduced by half, remove from the stove and let cool.



  1. Lay the tomatoes lengthwise in front on you on a cutting board.
  2. Using a serrated knife, cut 3 v-shaped slices into the tomatoes. Slice the mozzarella cheese so that the slices fit into the cuts in the tomatoes.
  3. Stack 3 or 4 basil leaves and roll them lengthwise very tightly. Cut thin slices so that you end up with “ribbons” of basil. This is called “chiffonade.”
  4. Chill your salad plates and make a decorative “squiggle” with the balsamic syrup. On the bottom of the tomato (opposite the v-cuts), cut a very thin slice to create a flat surface so the tomato does not roll. Place the tomatoes on top of the balsamic syrup and carefully stuff the v-slices with the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour a thin stream of olive oil over the tomatoes and cheese. Add the basil ribbons.
Caprese salad
Caprese salad

Find more of Chef Jim Gray’s recipes in the Archives here:


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