Tidewater Kitchen - July 2006

Fresh Summer Salads

by

Pamela Meredith-Doyle

     In America today, we no longer think of eating as we did long ago. Many Americans used to eat what their mothers prepared for them: meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Salad usually consisted of iceberg lettuce, and tomato wedges, and drowning in commercially prepared bottled dressing. Salad was something that we ate because it was “good for us”.
      In our current way of looking at food and how we eat, salads have taken on a new importance. Salads have become an essential first course, sometimes even a main course. Instead of being tacked onto our menu, salads are now one of the starring attractions.
      The difference between an average salad and a truly wonderful salad are the ingredients that you use. There are special preparations for some of the ingredients, and how you combine those ingredients will make or break your salad. Preparing a great salad is just like any other recipe-you cannot take short cuts. They compromise quality.
      Start every salad by preparing your ingredients, read the recipe carefully, and check to see if all the ingredients are readily available. Substitute other ingredients if necessary, and make sure that all of the ingredients that you have picked are fresh.
      Seasonality will be the key to your success in salad making. I am a firm believer in the fact that a tasteless tomato in the middle of winter has no place in a good winter salad. Using the correct ingredients at the correct time of year will ease your salad making task. The food production chain is really quite simple. We grow it, we gather it, we prepare it, and we eat it. If our food is treated this way, with a minimum amount of interference, your salad will be perfect every time.

Roasted Red Potato Salad

     Baby red potatoes are better for salads than Idaho russets because they have less starch and, consequently, hold more of their original shape. Be sure to pick ones that are even in size so they will cook evenly and quarter into equally sized pieces.

For the Salad:
5 pounds baby red potatoes
2 Tbs olive oil
6 slices bacon, diced
6 green onions, trim the tops and cut off all but two inches of the green
2 celery stalks, trimmed, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and deveined, and finely chopped
½ cup pecan pieces, toasted
5 large eggs, hard-boiled
Dressing:
2 Tbs whole grained mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup fruity olive oil
1/3 cup prepared mayonnaise
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

     Preheat the oven to 425° F. Wash and dry the red potatoes. Place them on a cookie sheet and toss them with the olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper.      Roast the potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, fry the diced bacon until crispy. You may need to pour off the fat as you fry it to add some crispness to the bacon. Drain it on a paper towel and cool.
      Place the green onion, celery, bell pepper, bacon and pecan pieces in a large bowl. Separate the hard boiled egg whites from the yolks. Place the hard boiled yolks into a separate medium sized bowl. Chop the egg whites and add them to the salad ingredients.
      To make the dressing: Mash the mustard and the egg yolks together with a fork until it forms a smooth paste. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, and then in a slow stream add the olive oil. Finally, whisk in the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme.
      When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the oven and cool 15 minutes. Quarter the potatoes into bite sized pieces and add them to the bowl. Toss with the dressing. You can make the salad a day ahead, but bring it to room temperature before serving. Serves 8.

Lemony Potato Salad
with Green Beans

     This salad works well as a side dish or you can add some smoked turkey and serve it as a main dish.

2 & ½ pounds baby red potatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
1 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 can anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced chiffonade

     Preheat the oven to 425° F. Toss the potatoes in 1 Tbs olive oil and roast for thirty minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the green beans. Blanch until tender. Immediately pour them into a colander and run cold water over them. This will stop them from cooking and set their color.
      In a food processor, place the anchovies in the work bowl and process until smooth. Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice to the bowl and process until smooth. In a slow stream, add the olive oil while the machine is running. Season with salt and pepper.
      Slice the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Add the green beans, shallots and basil to the bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. Serve immediately or make up to 1 day ahead, but bring to room temperature before serving. Serves 8.

Roast Beef and Potato Salad

     Meat and potatoes have come to symbolize the ultimate Midwestern meal. Try this combination in a salad and you will be hooked forever.

2 pounds small baby red potatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
½ cup purple onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 pound roast beef, sliced julienne
3 large eggs, hard boiled, separate the yolks from the whites
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp Tabasco
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

     Preheat the oven to 425° F. Toss the potatoes in the 1 Tbs of olive, place them on a cookie sheet and roast until tender. Slice them and place them in a large bowl. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley, and roast beef. Toss lightly and set aside.
      In a small bowl, combine the hard boiled egg yolks with the mustard until smooth. Stir in the vinegar, and then add the oil in a slow stream while stirring. Add the mayonnaise, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Beat with a fork until smooth. Chop the egg whites and add them to the salad ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until combined. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.

Chicken and Grape Pasta Salad

     Poach the chicken by preheating your oven to 350° F. Lay the chicken breasts on a jellyroll pan. Sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper, and then pour enough dry white wine over them to cover them half way. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Poach them about thirty minutes, or until cooked through.

8 ounces rotelle
1- 8 ounce can pineapple slices, drained, chopped, reserve juice for the dressing
3 cups chicken breast, poached, and cubed the same size as the pineapple chunks
½ cup celery, chopped
2/3 cup red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
¼ cup green onions, trimmed, and chopped
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup seedless white grapes
½ cup seedless red grapes
½ cup granny smith apple, peeled, and chopped
Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup pineapple juice, reserved from the can
1 & ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped

     In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Season the water with salt and add the rotelle. Cook until just tender and drain.
      Meanwhile, place the pineapple, chicken, celery, bell pepper, onion, almonds, grapes, and apple in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients with a fork until smooth. Add the drained pasta to the large bowl. Pour the dressing into the large bowl. Toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and refrigerate thirty minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Chinese Chicken Salad

     A great new version of an old favorite, this salad is full of wonderful vegetables and pasta. Remember how important it is to use good soy sauce and sesame oil. They taste better and make a great dressing.
Salad:
16 ounces rotelli pasta
1/3 cup sesame seed, toasted
5 cups poached chicken, cubed
1 cup red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 cup yellow bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green onion, trimmed and chopped
1 cup carrots, cleaned and sliced into thin julienne strips
Dressing:
1 ½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 ½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup superior soy sauce
3 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

     Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the rotelli. Cook until tender and drain the pasta in a colander. Bring another pan of water to a boil, add the carrots and blanch until tender. Drain the carrots in a colander and run cold water over them.
      In a large bowl, add the sesame seeds, chicken, bell peppers, celery, onion, and carrots. In a small bowl combine all of the dressing ingredients, and stir to combine with a fork. Add the pasta to the large bowl, then pour the dressing over the salad. Toss lightly and serve at room temperature. Serves 8.

Mom’s Chutney Chicken Salad

     When I was a little girl, this salad was my favorite. This is a nice salad that can be served as a main dish with some bread and salad greens.
Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup mango chutney
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp grated lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ tsp sea salt
Salad:
2- 13½ oz. cans pineapple chunks, drained
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup green onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 cups chicken breast, poached and cubed

     Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients. Pour the dressing over it, toss and serve on a bed of greens. Serves 8.

Tuna Penne Pasta Salad

     I love this main dish salad. The tuna becomes part of the dressing and flavors the whole salad. When you need a main dish salad, this one will fill the bill.

1- 7 & ½ ounce can tuna, packed in water, and drained
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs grainy mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans, steamed
½ cup celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced julienne
1 Tbs capers
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
8 ounces small penne pasta

     Place the tuna in a large bowl with the olive oil. Add the vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Combine the mixture with a fork until smooth.       

     Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season it with salt and cook the pasta until just tender. Drain the pasta.
      Cut the beans into ½ inch pieces. Add this to the tuna mixture. Toss in the celery, bell pepper, capers and parsley. Add the cooked pasta, toss lightly and serve immediately at room temperature. Serves 8.

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad

     The key to this is that the shrimp be poached gently, so that it doesn’t turn out chewy. You can use frozen shrimp for this to save money, but buy it raw and poach it yourself. To poach the shrimp, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp a few at a time, so that you won’t lower the temperature of the water. Once the shrimp are in the water, watch them carefully. Remove them as soon as they are pink and firm. Drain them in a colander and set them aside until ready to put in the salad.

12 ounces penne pasta
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
8 ounces medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and poached
1 recipe fresh Basil Pesto (see page 30)
¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

     Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until just tender, and drain.
      In a large bowl, add the pine nuts, penne, and shrimp. Toss with the pesto, and finish with the cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature. Serves 6.

Grilled Pita Salad

     This salad is my version of the Greek salad and a bread salad. By grilling or broiling the pita you will give them a toasted, fresh made taste. Even though it is unusual, give it a try!!

1- 12 ounce package white, wheat or sourdough pita
3 cups cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 cups vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ cup purple onion, thinly sliced
½ cup kalamata olives, rinsed and sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 & ½ Tbs grainy Dijon mustard
¾ cup fruity olive oil
¾ cup fresh oregano
4 ounces feta cheese

     Either on the grill or under a broiler, toast the whole pitas. When they are cooled, cut them into triangles. In a large bowl, combine the pita, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and olives. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and mustard together. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking while you pour it in. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the oregano and the feta cheese, then toss lightly. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

     This great-tasting salad is all about what ingredients you choose and the fact that the vegetables are roasted; The dressing is simple so use a good olive oil and an aged red wine vinegar.

8 ounces penne pasta
2 small zucchini
1 purple onion, quartered
2 carrots, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and deveined
1 green bell pepper, seeded, and deveined
1 6 ½ oz. jar marinated artichokes, drained
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed 2 inches from the bottom
½ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil

     In a stockpot, bring 5 quarts of water, and 1 tsp of sea salt to a boil. Add the pasta, and stir occasionally. Cook until tender, but not mushy. Al dente is the term I use which means “firm to the tooth”. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Toss it with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the minced garlic. Place this in the refrigerator and allow this to marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
      Preheat oven to 425° F. Place all of the vegetables on a jelly roll pan, brush with olive oil, and roast them until they are just tender, about 30 minutes. Allow them to cool . Chop all of the vegetables in equal sizes. Set aside.
      Combine all of the dressing ingredients, except for the olive oil. In a small stream add the oil until the dressing is thickened. Add the vegetables to the pasta and toss with the dressing. Serve this with bread. You can also add grilled chicken to make it a main dish. Serves 8.

 

White and Green Bean Salad

     Most of our local markets stock canned cannelini beans, look for them in the Italian section. You could also make these with the purple and yellow wax beans if you are able to find them.

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deveined and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deveined and cut into 2 inch lengths
2-15 ounce cans cannelini beans
1-15 ounce can garbanzo beans
2 Tbs shallot, chopped
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
½ cup fruity olive oil
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp fresh tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

     Cook the green beans in a pot of boiling water until crisp-tender. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. Combine the green beans in a large bowl with the bell peppers, cannelini, and the garbanzos.
      In a small bowl, combine the shallot, mustard and vinegar with a fork. In a slow stream, gradually whisk the oil into the mustard mixture. Mix in the zest and the tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the dressing into the salad and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.

Baby Greens with Wild Rice Cakes

     This salad is served with a potato and rice cake. The dressing is a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette that will be a crowd pleaser every time.

Wild Rice Cakes:
1 cup grated white potato
¾ cup grated yam
1&1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1/3 cup white onion, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbs fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
3 eggs, beaten
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Salad:
¼ cup olive oil
8 cups baby greens
1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette
4 Tbs sour cream
1 Tbs fresh thyme

     Place the grated potato and yam in a colander and rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear. This will eliminate the starch in the potato. Pat the potato and yam dry with a paper towel. In a medium bowl mix the potato, yam, wild rice, onion, shallot, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in the eggs. Fold in the flour, adding more if the batter needs to be thicker.
      Heat the oil in a large skillet at medium high heat. When the oil is hot, use a ¼ cup measuring cup and scoop the batter into it. Drop the batter into the skillet. Fry until each side is golden brown. Repeat until the batter is gone. These cakes can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for thirty minutes on a cookie sheet. Or they can be made 6 hours ahead and reheated in a 350 Degree F. oven for 15 minutes.
      Combine 2 Tbs of the vinaigrette with the sour cream and the 1 Tbs of thyme. Toss the greens with the remaining dressing. Arrange the greens on each individual plate with two pancakes. Garnish the pancakes with a dollop of the sour cream mixture and serve immediately. Serves 8.

Baby Greens with Strawberries
and Sugared Almonds

     This salad uses fresh summer greens and strawberries. The dressing and sugared almonds add a sweet surprise.
Salad:
1/4 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 pound baby greens, cleaned
2 whole green onions, finely chopped
1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and sliced
Dressing:
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tbs Champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

     In a small skillet, heat the sugar over medium high heat until it begins to melt. Add the almonds to the pan and toss rapidly until the sugar coats all of the almonds and the almonds are lightly browned. Pour them out onto a Pyrex dish and separate the almonds with a fork. Cool until hardened, and break into pieces.
      In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil. Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking as you add the oil until the dressing thickens. Place the greens, green onions and strawberries in a large bowl. Toss them with the dressing. Add the almonds, toss lightly and serve. Serves 8.

Classic Caesar Salad

     Remember that a real Caesar salad is made with a raw egg. If you aren’t comfortable eating a raw egg, or you are pregnant, omit the egg.
Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 can anchovies, chopped to a paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 large cold egg
Juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons
Salad:
2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned and torn
¼ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
One recipe of homemade garlic croutons (see below)

     Put olive oil, anchovies, garlic, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Crack the egg on top of the ingredients. Then squeeze the lemon juice over the egg. Mix with a fork until thick. In a large bowl, toss the dressing with the romaine lettuce then add the croutons, Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper. Toss lightly and serve. Serves 8.

Homemade Garlic Croutons

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced length-wise
4 thick slices coarse sourdough bread, crust removed and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

     In a frying pan, over medium high heat, combine the oil and the garlic and fry the garlic until brown, about four minutes. Remove the garlic from the oil and discard. Add the bread cubes to the pan and fry over high heat, stirring often, until browned. Transfer to paper towels and drain.