I fully realize that I never finished my 12 week-series on Summer Cooking last year. Look on the bright side, I'm 5 posts ahead now! Ha ha. I'll be finishing this series up some summer, I suppose!
This part is all about everyone's favorite hot weather fare: salads.
Salads are on of the most versatile dishes ever created. From side to main, hot to cold, cheeses to meats, grains to greens ... the possibilities are endless. Vegetables and fruits abound this time of year, and there isn't anything easier or cooler to whip up for lunch or dinner.
Keep the heat down in the kitchen by making anything that needs to be cooked for your salad early in the morning or later at night. Many things can be grilled as well, keeping the heat where it belongs - outside.
There are websites galore about choosing the freshest and best produce, here are a few I like:
North Dakota State University
There's no reason not to cut things up ahead of time so that you have them on-hand for quick salads. As long as they are wrapped properly and used within safe time limits, you're good to go. If guests stop by you can throw something together in minutes.
If I had it my way, I'd make a week of meals out of these salads:
California Club Pasta Salad
(I don't know where this came from, or I'd gladly credit the author!)
3 cups uncooked medium pasta shells (7 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup fat-free ranch dressing
1 medium tomato -- chopped (3/4 cup)
1/4 pound deli-style sliced fat-free ham -- cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 pound deli-style sliced fat-free turkey -- cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 medium green onions -- sliced (2 tablespoons)
1 (10-ounce) bag washed fresh spinach
1/4 cup imitation bacon-flavor bits
Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Rinse with cold water; drain.
Toss pasta, dressing, tomato, ham, turkey and onions. Place spinach on
serving platter. Top with pasta mixture. Sprinkle with bacon bits.
Ginger-Lime Chicken Salad
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 cup snow pea pods, long-bias cut
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
Mix yogurt, lime juice, and ginger in a medium bowl.
Add chicken, stirring to coat. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Toss pea pods, celery, and onion together.
Mix vegetables and chicken mixture together and serve.
Sirloin Citrus Salad
1 lb boneless beef top sirloin cut in 1" thick slices
1 T olive oil
4 c Romaine lettuce, torn
2 oranges, peel and separate into segments
1/4 c toasted walnuts
Sliced strawberries (optional)
makes about 1/3 cup
2 T Orange juice
2 T Red wine vinegar
1 T Olive oil
2 t Honey
1 1/2 t Dijon style mustard
Mix ingredients for Citrus Vinaigrette, reserve. Cut steak into 1/8"
thick strips; cut each strip in half. Heat oil in a large non-stick
skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef (1/2 at a time) 1 to 2
minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; season with salt, if desired.
Toss beef and oranges in a large bowl. Sprinkle with walnuts. Drizzle
with vinaigrette, garnish with strawberries, serve immediately.
Source: Beef Board pamphlet
This Fresh Fruit Salad from About.com looks delicious, too!