Salads take on many fresh looks

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Salad season is in full swing, and with family meals together and weekend celebrations with friends, there is always room for a salad. The category of salads is so broad that the possibilities are nearly endless.

For today I have chosen a few different kinds of salad recipes in hopes they will add some variety to your summer menu. Of course, ingredients can be added to or deleted as your personal preference calls for. Be creative and have fun trying all of these salad recipes, or look and find some on your own to change up your summer salad options.

Summer Watermelon Salad

Watermelon varieties are interesting in that you can get seedless melons in yellow, pink and red. If you can find those varieties, you can do an assortment to add interesting color to this salad. The surprising mix of flavors in this recipe may surprise you, and this salad may become your new favorite summer recipe.

* 8 cups cubed seedless watermelon (about 1 medium)

* 1 small red onion, cut into rings

* 1 cup coarsely-chopped macadamia nuts or slivered almonds, toasted

* 1 cup fresh arugula or baby spinach

* 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette

* 3 tablespoons canola oil

* Watermelon slices, optional

* 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine watermelon and onion; cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, add macadamia nuts and arugula to watermelon mixture. In a small bowl, whisk vinaigrette and oil; drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve over sliced watermelon, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 10 servings.

Cashew-Chicken Rotini Salad

This entree chicken salad is fresh, fruity and refreshing, and the cashews add wonderful crunch. This is the perfect summer chicken salad to serve to family as a casual meal or to impress friends for a special occasion.

* 1 package (16 ounces) spiral or rotini pasta

* 4 cups cubed cooked chicken

* 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits, drained

* 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery

* 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

* 1 cup seedless red grapes

* 1 cup seedless green grapes

* 1 package (5 ounces) dried cranberries

* 1 cup ranch salad dressing

* 3/4 cup mayonnaise

* 2 cups salted cashews

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, pineapple, celery, onions, grapes and cranberries. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stir into chicken mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk the ranch dressing and mayonnaise. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in cashews. Yield: 12 servings.

Cool Lemonade Fruit Salad

This recipe has a sweet and tangy lemonade-pudding coating goes well with any fruit, so feel free to substitute your favorite fruits. Serve well-chilled for a light and refreshing summer salad.

* 1 medium honeydew, peeled, seeded and cubed

* 1 medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed

* 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon

* 2 medium peaches, sliced

* 2 medium nectarines, sliced

* 1 cup seedless red grapes

* 1 cup halved fresh strawberries

* 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained

* 2 medium kiwifruit, peeled, halved and sliced

* 2 medium firm bananas, sliced

* 1 large Granny Smith apple, cubed

* 1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

* 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla or cheesecake flavored pudding mix

In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Just before serving, stir in bananas and apple. Combine lemonade concentrate and dry pudding mix; pour over fruit and toss to coat. Yield: 20 servings (3/4 cup each).

Nutty Broccoli Slaw

The sweet dressing with a light Asian flair nicely coats a crisp blend of broccoli slaw mix, onions, almonds and sunflower kernels. Crushed ramen noodles provide even more crunch. It is always a popular salad wherever it is served.

* 1 package (3 ounces) chicken ramen noodles, browned or toasted

* 1 package (16 ounces) broccoli coleslaw mix

* 2 cups sliced green onions (about 2 bunches)

* 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

* 1 can (6 ounces) ripe olives, drained and halved

* 1 cup sunflower kernels, toasted

* 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1/3 cup cider vinegar

* 1/3 cup canola oil

* Seasoning packet from noodle package

* 1 teaspoon minced garlic

* 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

* 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Set aside the noodle seasoning packet; crush the noodles and place on a large rimmed-edge baking sheet. Place in a 350 degree oven to toast and lightly brown. Stir occasionally. Remove from oven and cool completely. This can be done in advance and bagged up until ready to use.

When ready to serve, place toasted noodles in a large bowl. Add the slaw mix, onions, broccoli, olives, sunflower kernels and almonds.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and contents of seasoning packet, minced garlic, freshly grated ginger and sesame oil; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Yield: 16 servings.

Blueberry Gelatin Salad with Light Creamy Topping

Although this recipe calls for canned blueberry pie filling, you can add some fresh plump blueberries to pair nicely with the fluffy topping for a salad that everyone will remember all summer long.

* 2 packages (3 ounces each) grape gelatin

* 2 cups boiling water

* 1 can (21 ounces) blueberry pie filling

* 1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, undrained

Topping:

* 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

* 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1/2 cup chopped toasted or candied pecans

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in pie filling and pineapple until blended. Transfer to a 9x13-inch clear baking dish. Cover and refrigerate until partially set, about 1 hour.

For the topping, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Carefully spread over gelatin layer; sprinkle with nuts. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Yield: 12-15 servings.

Favorite Simple Summer Salad

* 3/4 cup canola oil

* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

* 2 garlic cloves, grated for finely minced

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

* 2 bunches (1 pound each) romaine, torn

* 2 cups halved grape tomatoes

* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

* 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

* 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

* 8 bacon strips, cooked crisp and crumbled

* 1 cup Caesar salad croutons

In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; cover and shake well. Chill.

In a large serving bowl, toss the romaine, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, almonds, Parmesan cheese and bacon.

When ready to serve, shake dressing; pour over salad and toss. Add croutons and serve immediately. Yield: 14 servings (1 cup each).

Have a great week and, until next time, happy cooking.

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