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Let’s Talk Food: Summer salads

  • Photo courtesy Audrey Wilson Salami Salad.

With the heat, summer salads are wonderful and healthy for lunch and dinner. It is also a great way to clean out the refrigerator.

Got leftover French bread that is getting stale?

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Panzanella Salad

Serves 6

Toast:

8 cups cubed crusty bread

Chop:

2-1/2 pounds tomatoes

Slice:

1/2 red onion

Tear:

1 cup basil

Place all in a large salad bowl. Add:

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup drained capers

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

• • •

Here is a recipe with two superfoods, lentils and watercress.

Lentils and Watercress Salad

Serves 6

Rinse and remove any small rocks or debris from:

1 cup dried green lentils

Fill a pot with water, bring to a boil, and add the lentils and:

2 garlic cloves

Simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as you do not want them to be overcooked.

Discard the garlic clove and drain the lentils. Toss the lentils with:

1 bunch chopped watercress

2 sliced green onions

2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Season to taste with salt and black pepper

Add:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Toss.

• • •

Got ramen noodles? Here is a salad using ramen.

Ramen Salad

Serves 4

Whisk in a small bowl to combine and set aside:

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Cook in large pot of boiling water according to directions on package:

20 ounces fresh or 12 ounces dried ramen noodles

Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl, add half of the dressing, toss to coat.

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Top each with vegetables and drizzle with remaining dressing:

6 cups shredded or shaved radishes, carrots, green onions, cabbage, lettuce, zucchini and/or cucumbers

• • •

Like pasta salads? This salad is a bit more healthy than your typical macaroni salad. You can make ahead, up to 6 hours in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before serving.

Seven-Layer Pasta Salad

Serves 8

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than the label directions:

8 ounces farfalle or 4 cups

During the last 4 minutes of cooking, add:

2 stalks broccoli, cut into florets

Rinse under cool water, shake off excess water and pat dry.

Whisk in a small bowl:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Juice of one lime

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large salad bowl, toss:

2 avocados, skinned and diced (probably one large Hawaiian avocado)

Top with layers of:

12 ounces deli ham, diced, about 2 cups

8 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, shredded

1 small head romaine lettuce, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

Drizzle some of the dressing on top and sprinkle with:

1 tablespoon chopped chives

If not served right away, do not drizzle the dressing on the salad. Keep them refrigerated separately for up to 6 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

• • •

Want to have a salad with a nice chianti? Try these salads.

Salami Salad

Serves 4

Combine in a large salad bowl:

4 cups baby arugula

1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Drizzle and toss to coat:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

Top the salad with:

2 ounces salami, thinly sliced

Shredded Parmesan cheese

Tuscan Pasta Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Serves 8

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Toss the in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper:

1 small radicchio, halved lengthwise and cored

2 small bulbs fennel, cored and cut into 1/4 inch wedges

6 assorted baby bell peppers, halved and seeded

Grill, turning occasionally, until charred and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes for the peppers and radicchio and 6 minutes for the fennel. Remove from the grill and let cool, then cut into small pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add:

8 ounces orecchiette or 2 cups

Cook al dente, or 2 minutes less than the label directions. Drain and rinse under cool water, shake off the excess. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the grilled vegetables, and:

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste

Toss, add:

3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

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Toss gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered for up to 6 hours.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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