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Summer salads are a refreshing treat

cyclonebill/Wikimedia Commons

Bulgur wheat is the star of the show in tabbouleh salad.


While fall is my favorite time of year, long ago I decided to focus on the good things that every season has to offer. Especially when I noticed on social media that as soon as a season changes from one to the other, the complaints start flowing freely.

In winter, the main complaint, of course, is it’s too cold or too rainy or snowy. In spring, here come the allergies, weeds and ant invasions. Summer is too hot and dusty and fall brings those pesky leaves to rake and the beginning of holiday season starting with Halloween.

Yes, we love our holidays but they can be a lot of work and stress. So, we are knocking on summer’s door and we might as well find things to enjoy about it.

I’m sure I am not alone in my appreciation of delicious salads we can enjoy either indoors or outdoors. We recently featured some bean salad recipes, so they will be absent this time as we explore other types.

As always, during outdoor gatherings during hot weather, take special care to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Turn off the bad news on TV and enjoy some time with family and friends (as allowed according to COVID-19 precautions).

Asian noodle salad

This has been shared before, but it’s a favorite.

1 pound Fideo noodles (fine egg noodles), or 1 pound angel hair pasta, broken into pieces

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sesame seed oil

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

About 1/4 can salted peanuts

2 large green onions (including tops), sliced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. If using Fideo noodles, cook 3 to 4 minutes in boiling, salted water. Do not overcook. Immediately rinse under cold water and drain well. If using angel hair pasta, follow package directions. Place noodles or pasta in a large bowl.

2. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine soy sauce, sesame seed oil, honey and red pepper flakes. Shake until well mixed and pour over the noodles or pasta. Toss to coat evenly, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours.

3. Before serving, add cilantro, peanuts, green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Toss well and serve.

Note: It was a bit tedious but I pried each peanut into halves, to spread them out more evenly. I also didn’t wait 8 hours to allow the pasta to marinate. Just keep testing it and after 2 or 3 hours, if you are satisfied with the flavor, then it’s ready. I prefer this recipe made with angel hair pasta.

Wild rice chicken salad

I like to chop the water chestnuts very coarsely, but you can leave them as is if you prefer.

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon tarragon

3 cups cooked, cubed chicken

3 cups cooked, wild rice

1/3 cup finely sliced green onions

1 can (8-oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pound seedless green grapes (1 cup halved)

1 cup salted cashews

1. In small bowl or measuring cup, mix mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice and tarragon; set aside.

2. In large bowl, combine cubed chicken, wild rice, green onion, water chestnuts, salt and pepper.

3. Stir in mayonnaise mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, add grapes and cashews.

Bread and butter pickle potato salad

Now this one is a bit different, but if you love bread and butter pickles, this might suit you just fine. I like to add some chopped onions into the mix.

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 1/4-inches wide, scrubbed

1 tablespoon mustard seed (strained from the jar of pickles)

1/2 cup bread and butter pickle juice

1/2 cup chopped bread and butter pickles

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

6 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a 4- to 5-quart pot, combine potatoes and 1 1/2 quarts water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix mustard seed, pickle juice, pickles, mayonnaise and vinegar. Peel warm potatoes, cut them into about 3/4-inch cubes and drop into dressing. Add bell pepper (and onions if using) and mix gently.

3. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons of parsley and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix gently, transfer to a serving bowl and top with remaining parsley. Cover and refrigerate until read to serve.

Classic tabbouleh salad

There are various ways to spell tabbouleh but one thing is for sure — it is a delicious salad.

1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups vegetable stock, boiling

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley

3/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 peeled European cucumber, diced (also called Armenian, English or hot-house)

1/4 cup lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a mixing bowl, combine bulgur wheat and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pour boiling vegetable stock over and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a strainer.

2. Toss the softened bulgur wheat with remaining ingredients (including remaining olive oil). Add salt and pepper to taste, cover and chill until ready to serve.

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