Good grief it is soooo wickedly hot all I want is cold food that doesn’t require my oven to be turned on. What is the deal with this heat? 111 degrees today and it’s a struggle to do anything except be underwater in the pool!

For years I’ve been after Molly for this recipe! It goes without saying here that any barbecue or get together at my house goes with an unspoken request for this salad. The flavors are so perfectly balanced, the textures so crisp and fresh, that I’m still surprised by the simplicity of the recipe. It really is a quick, non-lettuce salad to bring anywhere as a respectable contribution to any meal. Now I have the recipe immortalized here and can never lose it again. Whew!

Here’s a bunch of pretty food and beautiful Molly images to get you in the recipe mood. Thanks Molly!!

Grilled corn cob in the husk

Woman's hand cutting grilled corn from the cob

Hands tossing summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

hands squeezing lemon into summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

  • 4 Ears of Corn
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
~ To grill the corn, heat grill on low and place the corn directly on the grill with the husks on. Turn occasionally.  After about ten minutes, remove husks and char 1-2 minutes each side. Let cool.
*** If you do not grill the corn, slice it off the cob first and sauté in EVOO until cooked through. Let stand to cool. If you sauté the corn, no need to add more olive oil when dressing the whole salad.
~ While the corn is cooling, dice the red onion, halve or quarter the tomatoes depending on size. Chop the avocado and mozzarella into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
~ Once the corn has cooled to the touch break each ear in half to slice off the kernels. Toss the corn with the other ingredients and lightly drizzle EVOO and Balsamic vinegar.
**Variation: Use lime instead of lemon and add some fresh cilantro. Yum!
Summer Corn Salad with tomatoes and avocado

There’s something deeply magical about food. The process of creating a nourishing, lovely meal can be as cathartic and beautiful as the final dish. This is my very first foray into the world of video and it was really fun and, I think, beautiful. This video is simply the making of a whole foods, everyday salad with arugula, olive oil, shaved parmesan, berries, and a squeeze of lemon for some nice acidity. It’s the kind of salad we all throw together day after day without thinking twice about the calming ritual of digging your hands into the making of a healthy meal. Sometimes it’s nice to take 40 seconds to appreciate the beauty in the everyday tasks…



At the farmers’ market this week I stumbled upon some gorgeous, perfectly crisp and sweet snap peas. Snap pea season is so short in our hot climate so I was amped to get a giant bag at their peak of perfection. When I got home I realized how over-zealous I was and that we’d have to eat snap peas every day to use up the obscene quantity I had bought. Darn;)

Anyway, sushi grade ahi tuna might be a bit tough to source but I always find it really fresh and vibrant at our local asian market. This recipe has a a great mix of contrasting textures and flavors. The crunch of the peas and radishes against the tender ahi flesh pairs wonderfully with the pepper radishes, sweet snap peas and spicy ginger vinaigrette. To die for! We like it heavy on the ginger over here so adjust for your personal taste:)

ahi tuna, snap pea, salad, radish, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier


  • ~1 pound fresh ahi tuna, salted and peppered, seared at high heat for 2 minutes each side, cut into chunks
  • ~1 pound sugar snap peas, strings and tops removed and chopped
  • 8 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup ginger vinaigrette
  • salt and pepper


  • 1/2 cup macadamia nut oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon seedy whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

~Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

~ Toss all vinaigrette ingredients except macadamia nut oil into a blender and blitz until smooth. While blending, slowly add the macadamia nut oil until it emulsifies. Store leftover vinaigrette in fridge.

~Drizzle salad with desired amount of vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately if desired, but flavors gain depth from chilling for an hour then serving.


ahi tuna, snap pea, salad, radish, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier

I’ve been obsessed with these kinds of salads for many years, but it was just one of those things I left to the Vietnamese pros and never tried to make myself. Any recipe I’d see for one of these salads seemed to have way too many ingredients that I simply don’t keep in stock. I’m sorry, is my lazy showing? Well with the flames of summer licking at my heels I decided to suck it up and give it a go. It seems like a lot of ingredients at first but once you make it  you realize it’s fairly quick and easy. This recipe also lends itself to being prepared in advance and thrown together or even stored in containers and brought to work. It’s definitely a good healthy boost for a busy day and a great choice for a summer dinner with friends when you’d rather socialize than be stuck in a hot kitchen.

The beauty of vietnamese noodle salad, aside from being cool and refreshing, is the delightful collision of taste and textures. Sweet, sour, spice. Crunch, chew, crisp. A stimulating array of shapes and colors (it doesn’t take a food photographer to appreciate these good looks;). It’s an all around sensory experience. Find an asian market in your area and get chopping;) You’ll be glad you did when it’s 100+ degrees and your too heat-tired to move!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce (ie. nuoc mam)
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 thai chili or small jalapeno (seed the jalapeno), finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper


  • 1-2 shallots, sliced into thin cross-sections rings separated
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 pound bean thread noodles
  • 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 3 persian cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 cup broccoli stalks, sliced into matchsticks (I buy pre-cut from trader joes–can substitute cabbage)
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into matchsticks (also buy pre-cut)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thai (or cinnamon) basil, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

~ Mix all dressing ingredients together and whisk thoroughly. Can be made in advance and stored for several days in the refrigerator.

~ Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan and fry shallot in oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel on a plate. Reserve shallot infused oil for another use. Let cool then sprinkle with sea salt.

~ Prepare noodles according to package directions. For the noodle width in this photograph, cover noodles with boiling water for 15+ minutes or so until tender but not mushy. Strain noodles and coat with coconut oil to prevent sticking. Can also be prepared in advance and stored in refrigerator for several days.

~ Combine remaining ingredients (all the veggies and herbs) except the peanuts in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. Add noodles and toss again. Top with the peanuts and enjoy!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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