It’s a salad summer


Mohammed Moosa/Wikimedia Commons

Summer is a great time of year for serving salads. Add your favorite ingredients, as there really is no right or wrong way, as long as you like it.

 

I like salads all year around, but it seems I make a lot more of them during the summer. Sometimes I serve them as a main dish, when I do not feel like heating up the kitchen to cook a more traditional meal that uses the oven or stove.


My mom is hosting a big family get-together next month, and I already gathered the ingredients I will need to make my wacky pasta salad. It is always a big hit. We will have some barbecued sausages and roasted chicken at the party, but to be honest, I would be very happy just having that salad.


I always seem to be more fascinated with the side dishes than the main course (unless we are having crab). Also, the months of July and August are always crazy-busy for me (all kinds of annual check-ups and tests, one after another). It is nice to be able to serve an evening meal that doesn’t require me to start prepping and cooking before noon.


Another favorite salad doesn’t even require a recipe. My sister grows lemon cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes, so I love to throw together cuke slices, tomato slices, a bit of chopped red onion, a pinch of Italian seasonings, wine or balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. (Side note: I always have trouble remembering how to spell balsamic. For some reason I think it should be basalmic. You’d think I would learn by now.)


Cat’s wacky pasta salad


Although I have shared this before, it is well worth repeating, if I do say so myself.


1 package (12-oz.) Wacky Mix colored pasta shapes or tri-color spirals


2 small cans sliced ripe olives, drained (even better is to use 1 can chopped and 1 can sliced)


8 ounces roasted red bell peppers, diced (such as Mezzetta brand that comes in jars)


2 small jars (or 1 large) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (save marinade)


3 cups frozen corn kernels, cooked, drained and cooled


3/4 cup chopped red onion


1 dry packet Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix


Olive oil or cider or wine vinegar, for mixing the dressing


Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, to taste (don’t overdo, as there will be additional seasonings in the dressing)


Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. (Make sure it doesn’t get overcooked, as this can happen very quickly if you get distracted.) Pour into a colander and cool under running water; drain thoroughly and set aside.


2. In a large serving or mixing bowl, combine olives, red peppers, artichokes, corn and red onion. Add pasta shapes and mix lightly; season with the Lawry’s salt and the pepper.


3. Prepare the salad dressing as directed on package (use some of the reserved artichoke marinade as a replacement for part or all of the olive oil the directions call for); pour desired amount (I found I needed the whole amount) over the pasta salad and mix well.


4. Chill several hours before serving, stirring the mixture once or twice during cooling.


Green salad with apples, cranberries and pepitas


5 cups spring greens salad mix


1 large (or 2 small) Granny Smith apples


1/3 cup dried cranberries


1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or chopped raw pecans


1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) chilled goat cheese, crumbled


Apple cider vinaigrette:


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


1 1/2 teaspoons honey


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Toast the pepitas: In a medium-sized skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises (if using pecans instead, warm them just until they are fragrant). Transfer the pepitas to a small bowl to cool.


2. Make the dressing: In a cup or jar, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and salt until well blended. Season to taste with pepper.


3. Just before serving, chop the apple into thin, bite-sized pieces. Place your greens in a large serving bowl. Top with chopped apple, dried cranberries and toasted pepitas. Use a fork to crumble the goat cheese over the salad.


4. Drizzle the salad with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves once tossed (you probably won’t need all of it). Gently toss to mix all of the ingredients and serve. Makes 4 servings, if used as a side dish.


Avocado corn salad


1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered


3 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob


2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced


1/2 red onion (medium), thinly sliced


1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice from 1 or 2 fresh limes


2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced


1 teaspoon sea salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt


1/8 teaspoon black pepper


1. In a large salad bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, corn kernels, sliced avocado, thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and the pressed or minced garlic cloves.


2. Drizzle with olive oil, lime juice, then add salt and pepper. Toss just to combine and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Antipasto salad


Dressing:


1/2 cup olive oil


1/4 cup red wine vinegar


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1 teaspoon dried oregano


Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Salad:


1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)


1 heart romaine lettuce, shredded (4 cups packed)


1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved


1 can (15-oz.) pitted black olives


1 package (5-oz.) mini pepperoni (or larger type, quartered)


2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Pepperoncini to taste, for garnish


1. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and oregano; add salt and pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper is a good amount).


2. To the bowl with the dressing, add the sliced red onion and marinate at least 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes.


3. To make the salad: In a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pepperoni and mozzarella. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove onions from the dressing and add to the salad. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette to taste and toss to combine. Garnish with pepperoncini. Makes 8 servings.

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