Mixing things up with varieties of salads

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our daughter Lexie loves salads and she likes trying all kinds of unusual combinations of ingredients. She certainly is adventurous when it comes to trying new foods and food combinations. With salads, she will put together just about anything and it always comes out just right.

Today is all salads to get your own thoughts going as to what you can put together to come up with your own creations. Some of these do not even require any cooking, which suits me just fine, while other require a minimal amount. Either way, they are sure to help keep you cool and refreshed during hot summer days.

Cantaloupe Fruit Salad

2 medium cantaloupes, peeled, cut into chunks

1 large pineapple, cored, peeled, cut into chunks

1 c. raisins

1 c. fresh shredded coconut

1 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 large apple, cored, peeled, cut into chunks

1 c. plain yogurt

1 tsp. grated orange peel

Mix yogurt and orange peel. Mix all fruits and nuts in a large salad bowl. Serve by coating individual salad bowls with yogurt mixture, then pass the fruit salad.

Watermelon and Cucumber Mint Tsatsiki Salad

This recipe is adapted from Gourmet magazine.

1 garlic clove

Salt

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and deseeded

1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

2/3 cup chopped mint, divided

6 cups cubed watermelon

2 tablespoons lime juice

Flaky sea salt

Mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt and transfer to a bowl. Take one cucumber and coarsely grate into the bowl with the garlic paste. Stir in yogurt, 1/3 cup of the mint, and 3/4 tsp. of salt to make the tsatsiki dip. Cut remaining cucumber in half, then cut into thick slices. Toss sliced cucumber with watermelon, the rest of the mint, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt upon serving with the tsatsiki.

Berry Delicious Summer Salad

This recipe is merely a guide to endless possibilities. You can easily change up the fruit, cheese and dressing to a number of different salads. Let the fresh produce of summer be your guide and a little imagination to a new salad everyday.

8 cups mixed salad greens

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese

1/4 cup chopped and toasted walnuts or pecans

Bottled vinaigrette such as Newman's Own Light Raspberry & Walnut vinaigrette

Toss together first 4 ingredients; drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette, tossing gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and Feta Salad

1 cup slivered almonds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 head romaine lettuce, torn

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the almonds, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and set aside. In a bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and vegetable oil. In a large bowl, toss together the toasted almonds, romaine lettuce, strawberries and feta cheese. Cover with the dressing mixture, and toss to serve.

Peach Chicken Salad

3 medium fresh peaches, peeled and cubed

2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

Mint vinaigrette:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup minced fresh mint

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, combine the peaches, chicken, cucumber and onion; set aside. In a blender, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, mint, salt and pepper; cover and process until smooth. Drizzle over chicken mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Use a slotted spoon to serve on lettuce-lined plates.

Feta and Slow-Roasted Tomato Salad with French Green Beans

12 cherry tomatoes

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1 bay leaf, crumbled

1/4 cup pine nuts

2/3 pound thin green beans, trimmed

1 (5 ounce) package arugula leaves

6 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat an oven to 225 degrees. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and arrange them, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and the bay leaf; drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil. Bake the tomatoes until they are shriveled and dry on the outside, but a little moist inside, about 2 hours. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium-low heat, gently shaking the pan as they toast, until beginning brown and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; cook the green beans in the boiling water until bright green but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Combine the roasted tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, green beans, arugula, and basil in a salad bowl. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, honey, and 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl, and pour the dressing over the salad. Stir in the crumbled feta cheese just before serving.

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 news@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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