Some days, you just want a salad. And sometimes, those some days are every day, especially when they fall near the end of June, and when the thermometer outside is stuck at the “hot and sticky” mark, and when you’ve been in the process of moving into a new apartment for, oh, the past ten of them. Around here, those are the kinds of days that we’ve been having. Salad days, or sort of.

Regular readers will know by this point that Brandon and I eat a lot of salad. Between the two of us, we could keep a small farm in business. The first meal that we ever shared was a salad—of shredded baby bok choy, ramp leaves, and avocado, to be precise, with a baguette and a disk of Mt. Tam on the side—and since then, it’s become a regular habit. Most of the time, in fact, we don’t so much cook together as assemble. This could be a bit disconcerting for two people who claim to be decent cooks, but really, it’s not bad. Come summer, food is best with minimal fussing, anyway, and no matter the time of year, a good salad is nothing to scoff at.

So for the past several days, we’ve been letting our salad tendency run amok. Since the night of Brandon’s arrival, we’ve been busy moving into a new apartment—or a little house, really, with an office for me and a workbench for him—and in our honor, Seattle has pulled out all the stops where sunshine is concerned. It’s a blessing, I guess, but of the very mixed variety: it’s been h – o – t hot, all-caps HOT, no air-conditioning hot, hot as in Kool & The Gang’s “Too Hot.” I mean hot. It’s sweaty, dirty, nasty stuff, even before all the boxes and the bags and the dust. It’s the sort of thing that screams for salad and beer.

And so we answer—or rather, Brandon does. While I open the beers and set the table, he starts to work on a salad that, he tells me, has been a standby in his repertoire for a while. It could hardly be simpler: chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, a palmful of paper-thin red onion slices, and a crumbled chunk of Greek feta. The dressing, too, couldn’t be easier—just lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt—but from there, it’s alchemy. What results is bright, kicky, and laced with garlic, a spark to liven up romaine’s cool, watery crunch.

All told, a bowl of this stuff is almost as refreshing as a dip in the pool: cold, a little puckery, now-creamy, now-crisp. And with only minimal assembly required, it’s the IKEA bookshelf of the salad world, you could say. Trust me, after the past few days, I know plenty about both.

Summer Romaine Salad with Lime-Garlic Dressing

I’m not normally a fan of romaine, but this salad has made me reconsider. Put together the light, bright crunch of romaine with the light, bright flavor of a lime-based dressing, and you’ve got a proverbial match made in heaven. To this, you could add nearly anything, but we keep it simple with a few halved cherry tomatoes, some red onion, and a handful of tangy feta. It’s a stripped-down, slightly tweaked Greek salad of sorts, but better: cool, easy, and just the thing for a hot summer night.

For dressing:
3 Tbs plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice
5 Tbs good-tasting olive oil
¼ tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

For salad:
Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and cut with a chef’s knife into rough ½-inch strips
Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Slivered red onion
Greek feta

First, make the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, combine the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Whisk until emulsified, and set aside.

In a salad bowl, combine romaine, cherry tomatoes, and red onion in whatever proportions you like. Toss with dressing to taste, and top with plenty of feta. Serve.

Note: Dressing keeps, covered and chilled, for up to a week.