This "Fire and Ice Salad" is an old favorite in the south. My mother has been making a version of this since I was just a little girl. It makes great use of all of the fresh produce we have available every summer. The name comes from the cool vegetables and the little kick the dressing has. My mother's version doesn't have the kick, probably because she doesn't like the hotter spiciness, but as most of you know, I love heat so my version is more fiery. You can adapt it to your tastes. Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup cider vinegar (can use white)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (fresh ground pepper)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
6-7 drops of hot sauce (optional)
2 medium sweet onions, sliced and separated into rings (preferably Vidalia)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 medium vine ripe tomatoes, diced
2 Tbs. minced jalapeno pepper (you can use a fresh, seeded pepper or the pickled rings)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Mix the first 9 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute. You can also do this in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes. Set off of the heat to cool while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
I like to dice the green pepper in smaller pieces and just separate the onion into rings.
Peel and slice the cucumbers in thin slices.
Place all of the vegetables and the basil in a salad bowl with a tight fitting lid and pour the cooled dressing overall. The dressing doesn't have to be completely cool and can be still slightly warm. Toss the vegetables, cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the vegetables soak up some of the flavor. The fresh basil is optional in this. It's something I usually add, just because I grow tons of it and like to use it, but it does add great flavor.
This holds up in the refrigerator for a couple of days and if you only add the tomato to the portion you are serving, it lasts even longer. I really love it with grilled foods or even pinto beans and cornbread! It's just so fresh tasting!