When we think of Southern food, we call to mind simmered greens seasoned with pork, fried chicken, and creamy gravy. Comforting food, familiar, but maybe a little heavy. On our tables, there’s something very different going on, though. Texas is filled with people of diverse backgrounds, and today, this is what we’re celebrating. Between Houston and Austin, we’re influenced by cooks from India, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and all points in between. This salad is the kind of thing that can happen when we bring local ingredients to the world of culinary influence living in our own state. A bowlful of just-harvested tart green tomatoes, sweet cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumber, and summery melon, dressed simply with a sour-sweet-salty vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and toasty peanuts: the new South on a plate. Welcome it, y’all – it’s delicious.
Southeast Asian Summer Salad
2 green tomatoes, cored and cut into 2″ pieces
2 c. cubed watermelon
2 c. cubed cantaloupe
1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 c. cubed cucumber
1/4 c. lime juice
2 T. fish sauce
2 T. peanut oil
1/4 c. toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. chopped herbs (mint, basil, cilantro, and chives are all great choices)
In a large bowl, combine green tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber and toss gently to combine. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and peanut oil and whisk to emulsify. Drizzle over vegetables and fruit and toss again gently, Place in a serving bowl and top with chopped herbs and toasted peanuts.