Around the Island

One summer salad, hold the mayo

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO The best of the early summer vegetables, in a smooth tahini and yogurt dressing.
The best of the early summer vegetables, in a smooth tahini and yogurt dressing.

Some people do not like mayonnaise. For the mayo-sensitive, a glimpse of creamy white on a sandwich or in a salad is enough to make them look for something else to eat.

It’s easy to avoid using mayonnaise in the winter, but for some reason a lot of the foods we associate with summertime involve a hefty dollop of the stuff. Potato salad, egg salad and shrimp salad spring to mind.  Leave it to the Middle East to develop a substance that has the creamy texture of mayonnaise without the raw eggs, mysterious vegetable oils and preservatives that put so many off.

It’s called tahini cream, made of sesame paste (aka tahini) blended with lemon juice, a little garlic and maybe some plain yogurt.  If you want the cream to be loose enough to use as dressing for a tossed salad, add some olive oil.

This recipe uses the best of the vegetables coming from East End farms right now; and if you wander around the Havens Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, you can get most of what you need; including the tomatoes, beets, kirbys, corn, garlic, eggs and yogurt. I turn the stove on long enough to steam the corn and boil the egg, then chop, blend and serve.

“Hold the Mayo” chopped salad

Serves 3-4 as a side dish or first course

1/4 cup tahini

Juice of two lemons

One pod of garlic

1/4 cup plain yogurt

¼ cup olive oil

2 large tomatoes, unpeeled, cored and very coarsely chopped

1 large kirby, coarsely chopped

6-10 green olives (Castelvetrano or Picholine) pitted and coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 raw beet peeled and diced

6 scallions, with root tips and most of the dark green ends removed, coarsely chopped

The kernels cut from 2 ears of steamed corn

1 hard-boiled egg, cut in half, each half sliced

Ground cumin

Celery seed

1. Combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and yogurt in a blender, or blend in a narrow container with a hand-held immersion blender until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Add the olive oil and blend until the dressing is thick and completely combined.  Scrape into a large steel bowl.

2. Add the tomatoes, kirby, olives, carrot, beet, scallions and corn.  Toss with the dressing until the vegetables are completely coated.

3. Put the salad into a serving bowl, place the chopped egg around the edges, and sprinkle ground cumin and celery seed over the salad.

4. Serve at once.