The Hollywood Bowl is, to Angelinos, the music Mecca to which we make our annual pilgrimage (sometimes several times in a summer season). And for all the hubbub and tradition that surrounds it, arguably the picnic dinner is the most important. Whether it’s purchased at a gourmet market or restaurant, prepared by Patina Group on site, or made from scratch at home, pretty much everyone who goes enjoys a picnic. You’ll find folks lingering over their meals on a patch of lawn, a bench lining the walkway, a coveted spot at a picnic table or box seat, or spread out among the bench seats with a spectacular view of the Hollywood sign.
Trills of laughter fill the air as people relax, meet up with friends and pour their second glass of wine. The sun sets, the air is thin and cool, and sweaters are pulled over bare, tanned shoulders. It’s dusk now, bellies are full, picnic baskets are re-packed and the Bowl begins to fill as people make their way to their seats for the show. More wine is poured, an errant wine bottle goes cascading down the wide cement steps with a familiar…clink…clink…clink. Knowing giggles bubble up from the crowd (because the very same thing happened to them once).
The stars come out, the music is louder, washing over everything like an ocean wave, filling the Bowl with sound. It truly is one of summer’s finest pleasures.
We always bring our own picnic, in part due to my dietary restrictions. Last time I made grilled filet of beef sandwiches (on a gluten-free baguette that I had smeared with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese and toasted under the broiler), a tangy white bean & tepenade dip and this sweet, savory & spicy chopped summer salad.
I love pairing peak-of-the-season fruits and veggies together in a dish, and this salad simply screams summer. It’s bright and beautiful, perfect on it’s own, or used to top grilled chicken breasts or fish. It would even be wonderful served as an appetizer with tortilla chips! Of course everything tastes better when eaten al fresco with friends and live music.
Do you have a fabulous outdoor venue near you? I sure hope so.
Make sure you use only the best fruits and veggies in this chopped summer salad. This sweet, savory and spicy dish is wonderful served on its own, or over grilled chicken or fish.
- One pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 2 ears of corn
- 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 large peach or nectarine
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- zest from one lime
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar, optional
- pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
- Halve the cherry tomatoes and place them in a salad bowl. Cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife (I like to do this in a bowl so the kernels don't go flying everywhere) and add to the tomatoes. Dice the zucchini and cucumber and add to the bowl. Remove the pit from the peach or nectarine, dice and add to the bowl, along with the green onions, cilantro and chile.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lime zest and juice, shallot and agave (if using) together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle half the dressing over the chopped fruits and vegetables. Taste. Add more dressing if desired. Salad can be made a few hours in advance (though I think it tastes pretty good the next day too, but the fruits and veggies aren't as firm).