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It's July, and fresh produce is falling out of our collective ears in East Tennessee. It's not difficult to fall haphazardly into the makings of a great salad. Chop the veg, slice some fruit, toss in a handful of toasted nuts or seeds, or don't.

But what we can all always use is another bold vinaigrette to punch up the easiest of summer dishes, meaning you can do your simplest cooking of the year with big rewards.

Fruity, lemony, and showcasing the haunting combination of cilantro and mint, this dressing already has quite a bit going for it before you finish it with smoked salt. The smoke remains subtle, but adds surprising depth. Use the best fruity olive oil you can afford.

To serve the loveliest summer squash effortlessly (pictured at the top of the post), toss half-inch-thick slices of summer squash (allow one squash per person) into a nonstick pan over medium-medium-high heat, sprinkled with a touch of garlic salt (a generous pinch per squash). Let brown on both sides—about three minutes per side—plate, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Hello, summer.

Or grab your tomatoes, trim the tops, scoop out any big pockets of seeds you catch, and spoon in the vinaigrette. Pop it all under the broiler for about ten minutes and serve with any grain you like for a gorgeous summer lunch. Soft or firm polenta or grits (crispy little cakes, anyone?) work their charms especially well with the juicy, herbed, warm tomatoes, but whatever's in the cabinet will likely do.

First one to try it on grilled corn on the cob wins.

Smoky Cilantro-Mint Vinaigrette

Print the recipe

serves 2-4, inspired by The Plaid Apron

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro leaves

1 TBSP finely chopped mint leaves

1/4 tsp applewood smoked salt, or to taste

Whisk together all ingredients. Adjust salt as needed.