I usually like my vegetables cooked.

I like how heat caramelizes carrots; how hot oil softens zucchini and fennel. I like the jammy texture I get from grilling beets.

But summer heat has made oven-roasting untenable. Ditto standing over a hot grill.

So Saturday, we went raw: Raw beets tossed with champagne vinegar, walnut oil and goat cheese; raw ribbons of carrot, zucchini and fennel, all tossed with a tangy lemon dressing.

The acid in the vinegar and lemon softened the dishes and added brightness. The vegetables stayed crisp and refreshing. The house (and cook) stayed cool.

I think I’ve found a new cooking theme for this season’s side dishes:

It’s summer in the raw.

shaved zucchini salad

Raw Zucchini, Carrot & Fennel Salad

  • 2-3 zucchini, sliced vertically in 1/16-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper thin

Place the zucchini in a colander. Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and toss well. Place the colander in a shallow bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour.

Place the lemon juice in the bottom of a salad bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Shake the zucchini dry, then place it in the salad bowl. Add the carrots and fennel and toss well. You can serve this immediately or let it sit for up to an hour.

raw beets w goat cheese

Raw Beet Salad

  • 4-5 small or medium beets, scrubbed well
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Halve the beets and slice them into 1/8-inch half-moons.

Place the beets in a bowl. Add the coriander seeds and vinegar. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the walnut oil, salt and pepper and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Add the walnuts and goat cheese and toss gently. Serve immediately.