Salads for those hot summer days

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Special days call for a celebration, and today happens to be one of those special days. Today is my parents' 58th wedding anniversary. They have both worked hard all their lives to always serve others in anyway they can, and they always think of others before themselves. Their love and generosity has reached far beyond the walls of their rural McClure, Ill., home. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad; you're the best!

With the weather being so hot, I thought a few salad recipes might be in order for you to try this week. I hope you enjoy them this week as you attempt to stay cool.

Asian Sesame Apple Slaw

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 Gala apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced

1 Golden Delicious apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced

1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced

8 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut in thin strips

1/2 seedless cucumber, cut in thin strips

3 scallions, thinly sliced

3/4 cup cilantro

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 (3-ounce) container radish sprouts

In a large bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt and chili pepper until blended. Add apple slices and toss to coat. Add remaining ingredients, except radish sprouts, and toss to coat. The slaw can be made up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated. Just before serving, scatter radish sprouts over the slaw. Gently toss.

Bow Tie Salad with Tuna

1 pound bow tie (farfalle) pasta

For the dressing:

1 (6-ounce) can oil packed solid light tuna

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons honey-Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 (15- or 16-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 large cucumber, cut in chunks

8 ounces feta cheese, cut in cubes

1 cup quartered thinly sliced red onion

1 cup slivered basil leaves

Cook pasta as per package directions. For the dressing, drain oil from tuna into a large serving bowl. Reserve tuna. Whisk remaining dressing ingredients into the oil. Add pasta to bowl, then remaining ingredients. Add tuna and gently break up. Toss well to mix and coat. Serve salad at room temperature.

Pizza Salad

1 (8-ounce) package field greens

1 (5-ounce) package baby (bib) lettuce

4 cups grape tomatoes

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, separated in rings

1/2 red sweet pepper, cut in bite-size strips

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (6-ounce) link pepperoni, casing removed, thinly sliced

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1 recipe Herb Dressing

1 (5.5-ounce) box Italian-seasoned croutons

In an extra-large salad bowl, combine greens and lettuce. Top with tomatoes, red onion, sweet pepper, beans, pepperoni and cheese. Cover and chill up to 6 hours.

Herb Dressing: In screw-top jar combine 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup snipped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil, 4 garlic cloves, minced, 1 teaspoon sea salt or 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cover and shake. Before serving, shake dressing well. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with croutons.

Spinach Salad with Red Potatoes

1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn

3 small red potatoes, cooked and diced

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1/2 cup sliced fresh mushroom

2 bacon strips, diced

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Sugar substitute equivalent to 2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a salad bowl, combine spinach, potatoes, eggs and mushrooms. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. In the drippings, saute onion until tender. Combine cornstarch, apple juice, vinegar, sweetener and pepper until smooth. Stir into skillet. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened and bubbly. Pour over spinach mixture. Add bacon and toss. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutty Chicken Dinner Salad

Strips of crunchy granola-coated chicken, juicy raspberries and toasted pecans over leafy greens combine in this refreshing meal.

1 (10-ounce) bag frozen raspberries

1/2 cup oil and vinegar dressing

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing

2 tablespoons maple-flavored syrup or real maple syrup

4 cinnamon crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-ounce box), finely crushed (3/4 cup)

1 egg

1 pound uncooked chicken breast tenders (not breaded)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 (10-ounce) bag mixed baby salad greens

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 slices (3/4 to 1 ounce each) Swiss cheese, cut into thin julienne strips

1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted or glazed

Spread frozen raspberries on paper towel. Let stand to thaw while making dressing and salad. In small bowl, mix dressing, chopped pecans, brown sugar, mayonnaise and syrup with wire whisk until well blended. Refrigerate until serving time. Place finely crushed granola bars on paper plate or in pie plate. In shallow bowl or another pie plate, beat egg with fork. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken to beaten egg. Stir to coat. Dip each chicken strip lightly into crushed granola bars. Add to skillet. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and browned on all sides. Remove from skillet. Drain on paper towels. In large serving bowl, mix salad greens, onion, cheese and thawed raspberries. Toss, adding only enough dressing to evenly coat ingredients. Arrange greens mixture on individual plates. Place chicken evenly over greens. Arrange pecan halves on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Yields 4 servings.

I have a correction for you this week. A couple of weeks ago we had an Apricot Almond Biscotti recipe, and the first ingredient should have read 1 1/4 cups flour. I am sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused.

I hope you enjoy these cool salads on hot summer days. Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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