Super Summer Salads
The weather is FINALLY warming up (yes, even here in Minnesota!), gardens are growing, and produce is becoming plentiful. Be they starters, sides, or main-dish meals, salads are one of the most versitile foods going. They can be fresh and light or warm and comforting; crisp and traditional or savory and exotic. Have them on Meatless Monday, make a meaty main course, or even have them as dessert!
Want to REALLY make your meal from scratch? Check out this month's slideshow feature on crafty container gardening and get some inspiration on how you can grow your own "salad starters," as well!
You Betcha It's the Best Broccoli Salad
Simple, savory, and absolutely perfect for potlucks, summer BBQs, or any time at all, this classic salad has it all...fruits, nuts, veggies, and BACON. You can never go wrong with bacon. Cook's tip: If you'd like to toast your own almonds instead of using store-bought roasted ones, it's easy! Place raw slivered almonds on a large baking sheet and bake at 350F for 3-5 minutes stirring in between. Monitor while cooking so they do not burn. The almonds are toasted when they turn light brown.
1. Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, red wine vinegar, and celery seed in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2. Combine broccoli, bacon, toasted almonds, green onions, celery and grapes in a large serving dish.
3. Toss the dressing with the rest of the salad ingredients. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Mom on Timeout
Red-White-and-Blue Potato Salad
Take a break from the heavy, ultra-rich potato salads with this colorful, light vinagrette-style version. It pairs exceptionally well with pork or fish done in a balsamic marinade or glaze. As pretty as it is delicious, its color scheme also makes it great for July 4 or Memorial Day BBQs!
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by an inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes before checking for doneness.
2. Using a paring knife, pierce the smallest potatoes first, and when the knife enters easily transfer the potato to a colander to drain. Continue checking the potatoes every few minutes. 3. When all the potatoes are done, drain and let cool. Slice the potatoes in half, or quarters if large, and place in a large bowl.
3. Chop the pepper and add to the bowl, then add the mint. In a cup, whisk the vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, then add the olive oil and whisk to combine.
4. Pour over the potatoes and toss to mix. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to three days before serving.
Recipe adapted from and image courtesy of Co+op, Welcome to the Table
Easy Caeser Grilled Romaine
If you have never grilled romaine lettuce hearts...you are missing out! You can truly top them with anything--this recipe is Caeser-salad inspired, but you can do BLT with ranch and blue cheese, or honey mustard and chicken strips, or whatever combo strikes your fancy. Cook's tip: swap out the diced tomatoes with cherry tomatoes (home-grown or otherwise). Take it to the next level by tossing those cherry tomatoes in balsamic vinagrette and grill them, as well!
1. Wash/rinse the lettuce hearts. Remove and discard outer leaves. Pat dry lettuce and cut in half lengthwise with sharp kitchen knife.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high to high.
3. While grill is preheating, chop tomatoes and cook/chop bacon (if not using recipe pieces). Set aside.
4. Place lettuce cut-side down and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Flip lettuce over and repeat on other side.
5. Place romaine lettuce face down on the grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes, until a light marking occurs (it will go quickly). Flip and repeat.
6. Remove from heat and place on a platter cut side up.
7. Drizzle dressing over lettuce and top with tomatoes, bacon, and cheese.
8. Serve as a side or add protein on top to make it into a meal!
Note:Try switching it up and making BLT romaines with ranch instead...or, use a balsamic vinagrette drizzle and roasted tomatoes. Get creative!
The quintessential summer salad! Light and refreshing, this makes a great side or a wonderful light lunch on a hot day. Try it with home-grown basil and tomatoes and you will be spoiled forever!
1. Layer fresh mozzarella and tomato slices on plate.
2. Garnish each slice with a basil leaf.
3. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Zesty Watermelon Tomato Salad
Oh...the flavors in this salad! It's sweet. It's spicy. It's tangy. It's savory. It's...it's ALL the things right now, expecially if you make it with all those homegrown peppers, basil, and heirloom tomatoes you have in your garden or find at the farmer's market. (But even if you don't, it's still fabulous.) If you want it extra spicy, add in a scotch bonnet or other habanero-type pepper. Want to cool it down? Add less. The super unique flavor profile really hits the spot on a warm summer day!
For the salad:
• 3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the tamari, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, and ginger.
2. Arrange the tomatoes, watermelon, and jalapeños/chiles on a platter or in a shallow bowl. (Depth of bowl is important--a shallow bowl keeps the juices on the fruits and veggies.)
3. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the basil, cashews, and avocado.
4. Season to taste and serve with lime wedges.
Image courtesy of and recipe adapted from Love and Lemons
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Now, some of you non-Midwesterners are raising an eyebrow at us. We get it. "That's a dessert," you say. Perhaps. But it is ALSO a salad. Go with it. Salty meets sweet with three deliciously distinct layers of creamy and crunchy goodness. Try it at your next potluck or picnic (and we won't judge if you make an extra batch to keep at home in case you want to have salad for dinner)!
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together crushed pretzels, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press into a lightly greased 9X13-inch pan. Bake for 8 minutes and cool completely.
3. Use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping using a rubber spatula.
4. Spread over cooled pretzel crust being sure cream cheese mixture completely covers and seals the crust. This will help keep the jello layer from seeping down and will keep crunch in your pretzels.
5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes--you can also refrigerate it overnight at this point.
6. In a bowl, whisk together jello and boiling water until jello is completely dissolved. Add the strawberries. Refrigerate for 5 minutes and then pour on top of cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until firm.
Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen