Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Salad

dressing

Salads are

  • a great source of fiber
  • an excellent way of getting multiple fruit and veggie servings
  • a filling dish that usually has a low-calorie count

But, having a salad alone doesn’t ensure good nutrition. Too much cheese, fried meats and bread can ruin a healthy salad. Another culprit is the salad dressing itself. Store-bought dressings have lots of trans fats, sugars, artificial ingredients and a surprising number of calories.

So, what’s a health-conscious, calorie-conscious person to do?

Start from scratch! Homemade salad dressings give you the flexibility to use fresh, natural ingredients and make healthy substitutions where they are needed.

Salad dressing is one of those foods where we tend not to notice how much we’re putting on and, if you’re watching calories, they can add up fast. One tip for keeping serving sizes reasonable: It really only takes a small amount of an oil-based dressing to coat the leaves of a salad. The trick is to put a small amount in a bowl and toss the salad very well. This not only uses less oil, it tastes better when the salad has an even coating of dressing instead of being poured on the top.

It’s quite surprising how much sugar and other carbohydrate can be added to salad dressings, so keep sweeteners to a minimum.

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The best oils for salads dressings have high amounts of monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is probably the best choice, at 73% monounsaturated fat and it also has other good-for-you nutrients. Canola oil has 59% monounsaturated fat.

In the summer when fruits, vegetables and fragrant herbs are in abundance, homemade dressings are refreshing drizzled over just about anything. When you think healthy, you don’t think creamy, cheesy salad dressings. But, there are definitely ways to balance taste and nutrition without giving up either. Making healthy substitutions to your salad dressing is not as challenging as it may seem. In fact, it’s rather easy.

Herbs (dill, chives, rosemary), spices, garlic and shallots help add flavor to any salad dressing. Red or white wine vinegar, lemon or orange juice (or any citrus) and chicken or vegetable stock are low-fat and can replace some of the oil when making a vinaigrette. Mustards like Dijon can also replace a portion of oil as well as add thickness to the dressing. Classic vinaigrettes generally contain a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Using some of the ingredients mentioned above, you can bring those calorie numbers down, yielding a healthier and more flavorful dressing.

Tofu might not seem like an obvious substitution choice, but pureed in the blender it’s a perfect base for a creamy dressing. Tofu is also a great source of protein and calcium. Low-fat sour cream and low-fat plain yogurt also make good substitutions in creamy dressings, like Thousand Island.

The key is to reduce the high calorie and fat ingredients and bump up the ingredients that add flavor and texture.

dressing 7

Balsamic Herb Vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar, a reduction that comes from grapes, is a low-calorie liquid; a tablespoon only has about 14 calories. Additionally, it’s low in sodium and fat, making it an excellent base for a healthy salad dressing.

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon of minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon of minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Whisk everything together and set aside until you are ready to make a salad.

dressings 1

Creamy Herb Dressing

I like this drizzled over seafood salads.

Makes ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons refrigerated egg substitute or 1 large pasteurized egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh dill leaves
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fennel fronds
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Directions

Pulse egg, garlic and vinegar in a food processor until smooth. With motor running, gradually drizzle in oil and process until emulsified. Add dill and fennel and process. Add a tablespoon of water, if needed, to make the dressing the consistency of heavy cream; season with salt and pepper.

dressing 2

dressing 3

Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing

Delicious over a fruit salad.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions

Combine first 5 ingredients in a blender; process until blended. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the poppy seeds.. Cover and refrigerate.

dressing 4

Blue Cheese Dressing

Excellent over roasted beets.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

dressing 5

Homemade Coleslaw Dressing

Dressing makes enough for half a medium cabbage and one carrot, shredded.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise 
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced onion 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yellow mustard 
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Directions

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Mix with your favorite coleslaw ingredients the day you are planning to serve the coleslaw. Chill the coleslaw before serving.

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Healthy Caesar

Yield:1 cup – 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces cubed Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 11/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 11/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup silken soft tofu
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Starting on the lowest speed, chop the cheese cubes in the blender until it settles into the bottom of the jar, gradually increasing the speed. Add the garlic down the chute and chop until minced.

Next, add the mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt,pepper and tofu to the blender and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, drizzle olive oil down the middle and blend until it reaches salad dressing consistency.

dressing 6

Dressing for Salads with Fruit and Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oils. Taste and adjust seasonings.

dressing 8

Thousand Island Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

In a blender or food processor blend all ingredients and salt, if needed, until smooth, adding up to 2 tablespoons additional water, if necessary to thin to a desired consistency.

dressing 9

Yogurt-Feta Dressing

Good over sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

Directions

In a blender or food processor, combine feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, mint, lemon zest and juice; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Blend or process until smooth, adding more oil if you need it to reach a smooth consistency.

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grilledsalad

If you’re looking for something lighter, healthier and tastier than typical grilled fare, think about cooking up a salad on the grill. Not only can you cook the obvious chicken breast or steak for your salad, but the grill also does wonders with vegetables, fruits and even sturdy lettuces.

Grilling gives the ingredients a hint of smoke, a touch of char, that regular salads just don’t have. I like to make my dinner salads with protein, so I cook chicken, steak and fish on the grill. Don’t stop there, though: veggies and fruit go on too.

Any vegetable you like to oven-roast is a good candidate for the grill. Think: onions, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, fennel and asparagus. Grill thick slices until marked on both sides, then reduce heat (or move to a cooler part of the grill) and cook until tender. Try grilling sturdy greens like romaine and escarole. A few minutes on the grates makes them delightfully smoky and pleasantly wilted.

To keep food from sticking, oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub on the preheated grill rack. Don’t use cooking spray on a hot grill. To prep veggies for the grill, toss them with oil so they brown nicely and don’t dry out.

For smaller items like cherry tomatoes use skewers to keep them from falling through the grates. A Grill Basket is also great for small vegetables. Just place mushrooms or onion slices into the basket and stir occasionally until done.

Meat Substitutes

Tofu, tempeh, veggie dogs, veggie sausage and veggie burgers all taste great when cooked on the grill!

  • Meat substitutes tend to stick to the grill, so be sure to use a light brushing of oil to help prevent sticking. A non-stick grate or foil packets lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
  • When grilling tofu, use firm or extra-firm and press it prior to cooking to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
  • Grill over a preheated grill (not too hot!) for 5-7 minutes per side. Place the tofu directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move it to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside doesn’t cook too quickly.
  • Try marinating tofu overnight or for quicker turnaround time, 30 minutes will get the job done.
  • Burger and hot dog alternatives grill up fairly quickly over indirect heat. Follow instructions on the packaging, as ingredients and cooking times may vary.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices baguette
  • 1 large pasteurized egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 3 hearts of romaine (18 ounces)
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

Directions

Purée anchovies, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Brush both sides of baguette slices with some of anchovy dressing, then grill bread, turning over occasionally, until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and lemon juice to dressing in blender and blend until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise, then grill, cut sides down, covered only if using a gas grill, until grill marks just appear, about 2 minutes. Cut romaine crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips and transfer to a bowl.

Halve or quarter toasts and add to romaine along with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Toss salad with just enough dressing to coat and serve immediately.

grilledsalads 1

Grilled Pork and Peach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium peaches or nectarines, pitted, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground black pepper and salt
  • 3 cups torn fresh Bibb lettuce
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup bias-sliced green onions (2)

Directions

On four 10-inch skewers, thread pork cubes. On three more 10-inch skewers, thread peach cubes. For a charcoal grill, place skewers on the grill rack directly over medium coals.

Grill, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until peaches are browned and for 10 to 12 minutes or just until pork is slightly pink in the center, turning occasionally.

(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place skewers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl stir together the honey, orange juice, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. When pork skewers are done, remove pork and peaches from skewers and place in honey mixture; toss to coat.

To serve, arrange lettuce and spinach on serving plates. Spoon pork and peaches evenly over greens. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 4 servings.

grilledsalad 6

Grilled Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Steak seasoning
  • 8 cups mesclun or spring salad greens or spinach
  • 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions

For vinaigrette, in a screw-top jar combine oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, pepper, and oregano. Cover and shake well; let stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken breast halves lightly with steak seasoning. Grill chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals or in a closed gas grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (165 degrees F), turning once. Cool slightly.

Arrange salad greens on 4 plates; top with grapes, cheese and pine nuts. Slice each chicken breast and arrange one sliced breast on each salad. Shake dressing and drizzle over the salads. Makes 4 servings

grilledsalad 2

Grilled Salmon Penne Salad

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen skinless, boneless salmon fillet or other fish fillet
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar or any flavor vinegar that you like
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces dried penne pasta (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup bias-sliced, trimmed fresh asparagus spears or any vegetable in season
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries or sliced fresh strawberries
  • Cracked black pepper 
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Directions

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Remove 2 teaspoons of the oil mixture for brushing on the fish; set aside remaining oil mixture to toss with pasta.

Preheat an outdoor grill. Place fish directly on the greased grates or in a foil grill pan. Brush the 2 teaspoons oil mixture over fish. Grill fish with closed cover. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions, adding the asparagus for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain well. Return pasta mixture to saucepan. Pour remaining oil mixture over pasta; toss to coat.

Flake cooked salmon. Add salmon to pasta; toss gently. Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours.

To serve, add berries to pasta mixture; toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with green onions and cracked black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

grilledsalads 3

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges*
  • 2 green and/or red sweet peppers, halved, stems, membranes, and seeds removed
  • 6 large cremini mushrooms, stems removed
  • 3 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Fresh thyme

Herb Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground black pepper

Directions

Herb Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, snipped fresh parsley, snipped fresh thyme, snipped fresh rosemary, salt and dash ground black pepper.

In a very large bowl, combine eggplant, onion wedges, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Add olive oil and cider vinegar. Toss to coat vegetables.

Place vegetables on greased of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals or on a covered gas grill. Grill for 3 minutes; turn vegetables. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.

To serve, cut each pepper half into 3 strips. Arrange vegetables on a platter. Drizzle with Herbed Vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme. Makes 4 servings.

*Leave onion wedges attached at the root end to hold wedges together.

grilledsalad 4

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak Salad

Ingredients

Creamy Basil Dressing, recipe below

  • 1 lb beef flank steak
  • 4 small yellow and/or red sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded, and halved
  • 2 ears fresh corn, husked and silks removed
  • 4 green onions, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • Fresh basil sprigs

Directions

Divide dressing in half.
Trim fat from the steak. Score both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag. Pour one portion of the dressing over the steak in the bag; set remaining dressing portion aside. Seal bag; turn to coat steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Brush sweet pepper, corn, and green onions with olive oil.

For a charcoal grill, grill steak and corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals until steak is desired doneness and corn is tender, turning steak once halfway through grilling and turning corn occasionally.

For steak, allow 17 to 21 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees F) to medium (160 degrees F). For corn, allow 15 to 20 minutes. Add sweet pepper halves to the grill for the last 8 minutes of grilling and green onions to the grill for the last 4 minutes grilling, turning frequently.

(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place meat and, later, vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)

Thinly slice meat against the grain. Coarsely chop sweet peppers and green onions; cut corn from cob. Serve meat, vegetables and tomatoes over romaine lettuce. Drizzle with the reserved portion of the dressing. Garnish with basil sprigs. Makes 4 servings

Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 12 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

grilledsalads 5

Grilled Shrimp & Plum Kebabs

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 raw shrimp, (8-12 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 4 hot peppers or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
  • 3-4 plums, depending on size, pitted and cut into sixths
  • 1 bunch arugula, washed, dried, and torn

Directions

Whisk oil, oregano, lime zest, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Set aside 4 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl to use as dressing. Add shrimp, jalapeños and plums to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Make 4 kebabs, alternating shrimp, hot peppers and plums evenly among four 10-inch skewers. (Discard the marinade.) Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes total.

Mix the arugula with the reserved dressing. Divide onto 4 plates and top each with a shrimp kabob. Makes 4 servings


salad night cover

A salad is only as good as the quality of its ingredients. To make a truly great salad, you’ve got to use ingredients that are fresh, ripe and in season.

If you think salads are limited to watery lettuce and a few chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, think again. There are endless amounts of wonderful combinations and you can make a salad as simple or as complex as you like. Spend a minute thinking about the contrasts of tastes and textures in the ingredients you are choosing and what sort of dressing you want to use, so you end up with something delicious and exciting every time.

THE BASE OF YOUR SALAD

The ingredient that forms the bulk of your salad is the base. And when we hear the word ‘salad’, lettuce is often the first ingredient that comes to mind because it is used as a base for so many salads. Oakleaf, cos or romaine lettuce and baby mixed lettuces, also make great salad bases, as do chicory, radicchio, arugula, watercress, baby spinach, tiny red-veined chard leaves, mustard leaves, pea shoots and sorrel. But plenty of salads don’t have any lettuce in them at all. You can make beautiful salads using cooked new potatoes, couscous, lentils, shredded cabbages or any other robust interesting vegetable. Use your imagination and you’ll never be bored.

PREPARING AND WASHING SALAD LEAVES

Wash your salad leaves before using them. Make sure your sink is clean then fill it with cold water. Gently wash the salad leaves in the water until they are clean and then transfer them to a salad spinner and spin dry. If you don’t have a salad spinner, put them into a clean tea towel, gather the edges up and spin it around your head. Make sure the leaves are dry – if they aren’t, the salad dressing won’t cling to them. Keep them in the refrigerator or bowl under a damp cloth until you’re ready to use them.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU ADD TO A SALAD?

Raw crunchy veggies, like carrots or radishes, are great in salads. But they can be quite hard if they’re in big pieces, so finely slice them or shave them into ribbons with a peeler. Beets, spring onions, cucumber, squash and celery all work well. Cooked vegetables are also fantastic in salads. Peas, beans, asparagus and corn, cooked very quickly so they are not mushy, add flavor and color. Grilled slices of zucchini or pepper or even chunks of roasted squash or pumpkin also make salads much more interesting.

Adding soft herbs at the last-minute adds loads of extra flavor. Basil, tarragon, parsley, dill, mint or even thyme or marjoram tips are all great choices.

It’s also nice to add a bit of protein to a salad, especially if you’re having it as a main meal. Use your imagination; there are really no limits to what you can include. Try a few slices of smoked salmon, shredded roast chicken, cooked shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, buffalo mozzarella, crispy bacon, cannellini beans, lentils or crumbled goat cheese.

For a bit of crunch, try adding a few nuts or seeds. Toasted or flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, crumbled walnuts and chopped cashews all work well.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DRESSING

Think of your salad dressing as the link that brings all the ingredients in your salad together. There are loads of ready-made bottled dressings available in the markets, but it’s so easy to make your own, so try to get into the habit of doing that rather than buying them. Store-bought dressings are likely to contain lots of hidden ingredients and may be high in calories and sugar. Plus if you make your own, you can tweak it every time to suit the other ingredients in your salad.

The easiest way to make your salad dressing is in a clean jar. Just add all of your ingredients, pop the lid on and give it a good shake!

Most salad dressings contain an oil element – such as extra virgin olive oil, nut oil or sesame oil – and an acid element, such as balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lemon or lime juice. Aim for a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, then add any other ingredients you fancy. Half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard or some finely chopped fresh herbs or chillies can add loads of flavor. If you want a slightly creamy dressing, try stirring a spoonful of natural yogurt into the dressing.

Once dressed, salad leaves can wilt after a few minutes, so always add your dressing right before serving. If you want to ensure a really good even coating, using clean hands, quickly toss everything together. Just make sure you don’t add all of the dressing at once; add a little, mix it up, then have a taste before deciding whether you need to add more. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.

salad night 1

Mediterranean Pita Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed with a press
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce (about 1 large head romaine)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 pita breads, toasted and broken into bite-size pieces

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, coriander and pepper. Whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream until blended.

Add romaine, mint, parsley, tomatoes, radishes, green onions, cucumber and toasted pita and toss until blended. Serve immediately.

 

salad night 2Steak Salad with Yogurt-Lemon Dressing

6 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steak:

  • 1 rib-eye, strip loin or top sirloin steak (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 4 cups finely chopped hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta

Directions

To make dressing:

Whisk yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Thin with up to 3 tablespoons of water so it dribbles off a spoon. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes to develop flavors. (Can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.) Makes 1 cup.

To prepare steak:

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill for high heat, pat steak dry and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and let rest 10 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

To prepare salad:

Make a bed of romaine on a large serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Arrange cucumber, tomato, chickpeas, avocado, olives and feta in mounds and place steak strips in the center. Pass the dressing on the side.

salad night 3

Crab Salad with Lemon Dressing

Serves 2

Ingredients

Crab

  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat

Salad

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives, more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/3 pound thin green beans, trimmed
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 bunch endive, chopped in 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely chopped

Directions

For the crab:

Stir together shallot, hot sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and chives in a medium bowl. Add crabmeat and lightly toss. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.

For the rest of the salad:

Whisk together mustard, shallot, vinegar, chives and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing slightly thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Steam Yukon gold potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork. While potatoes are still warm, pour a tablespoon or two of dressing over them.

Steam green beans until tender. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly. Combine green beans with arugula, endive and radish. Toss with a tablespoon of dressing.

Toss fennel with remaining dressing in a small bowl. Check over the crab for any pieces of shell.

To serve:

Arrange greens on a platter or individual plates. Top with crab, fennel and eggs. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

salad night 4

Couscous Salad with Zucchini and Parsley

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo Beans (also called chickpeas), rinsed and drained

Directions

In a large, heatproof bowl, pour water over couscous, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and set aside to let cool for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, tahini and salt in a second large bowl.

Thinly slice zucchini over dressing and then use kitchen shears to snip parsley leaves into the bowl; discard stems.

Add tomatoes, beans and couscous and toss gently to combine.

salad night 5

Grilled Chicken and Wheat-Berry Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup wheat berries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, divided
  • 1 cup green apple, peeled and cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Cucumber Yogurt Dressing

  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill

Directions

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a simmer; cover and cook for 2 hours, 15 minutes or until wheat berries are almost tender.

Drain and place in a salad bowl; discard bay leaf.

For the salad dressing:

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate dressing in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Preheat grill.

Coarsely chop the spinach leaves. Add spinach, apple, bell pepper and 3 tablespoons of the cucumber dressing to the wheat berries and toss well.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Thinly slice chicken.

Arrange chicken evenly over salad mixture; sprinkle with green onions. Pass dressing on the side.

 

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There are many secrets to making a great potato salad. Often people leave it to chance or just pick up some from the deli – this can be a hit or miss proposition, as we have all had the not-so-good deli version. Making your own will give you a taste for the very best and you will never want to settle for deli potato salad again.

Some tips for making great tasting potato salads:

Use waxy potatoes (i.e., fingerlings, red potatoes, Yukon Golds) instead of starchy potatoes (i.e., russet), if you want them to hold their shape when you toss the potatoes with the dressing.

Lighten up the dressing by using a mixture of reduced-fat mayonnaise and low-fat yogurt. The yogurt gives the salad a nice tang. Vinaigrettes are an excellent alternative to creamy dressings.

Another important tip is to leave the potatoes whole and cook them thoroughly. Drain well and set the potatoes aside, until they are just cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into bite-sized pieces (it is not necessary to peel them) and toss with a little vinegar, pickle juice or lemon juice to infuse the potatoes with flavor.

Other flavor boosters without fat to add to potato salads are onions, chives, capers, olives, mustard, herbs or pickles.

Add some veggies: red bell pepper and celery are naturally low in calories and will give your salad appealing crunch and color.

Be creative and add some interesting, non-traditional ingredients. On warm summer days, these salads are perfect for dinner. 

Chicken, Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Salad:

  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound diagonally cut green beans
  • 2 cups sliced or cubed grilled or poached chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 (10-ounce) package mixed baby salad greens (about 6 cups)

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add beans and cook an additional 4 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain well.

Quarter potatoes. Place the potatoes, beans, chicken, onion and greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve without chilling.

Farm Stand Potato Salad

8 servings

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Salad:

  • 1 3/4 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes from pan with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Add sugar snap peas and broccoli florets to pan. Reboil and cook 1 minute; drain.

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add a little dressing to the potatoes and let rest while you prepare the other vegetables.

Then, combine potatoes, peas, broccoli, bell peppers and green onions in a large bowl. Add remaining dressing; toss well.

Quick Potato Salad with Shrimp and Feta

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salad:

  • 5 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 3 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Add shrimp and 1 tablespoon dressing; toss gently to combine. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Add remaining dressing, lettuce, bell peppers, onion and cheese; toss gently to coat. Top salad with kalamata olives.

Lemon-Arugula Potato Salad

If you want to make this potato salad ahead, prepare the recipe without the arugula. Once the potato mixture is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate. Toss with the fresh arugula just before serving so the greens do not wilt or get bruised.

Add some grilled steak for a complete meal.

6 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3 small)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula

Directions:

Peel the potatoes, if you wish, and cut them into 1 inch pieces Place potatos in a medium saucepan; cover with cold, salted water to 2 inches above potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots to pan; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk until combined.

Drizzle dressing over warm potatoes; toss gently to coat. Cool completely.

Add arugula to potato mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Cobb Potato Salad

Great side dish for grilled entrees.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • Blue cheese vinaigrette, divided
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

Make Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, directions below.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Toss potatoes with green onions and 1/3 cup of the blue cheese vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, peel and chop avocados; toss with lemon juice. Mix lettuce with avocado mixture and tomatoes and add a little blue cheese vinaigrette. Toss gently.

Arrange lettuce mixture on a large serving platter; top with the potato mixture and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with bacon.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided 
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.

Transfer garlic mixture to blender. Add 1/2 cup blue cheese, white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil; blend well.

Transfer vinaigrette to bowl. Mix in chopped basil and remaining 1/2 cup of blue cheese. (Vinaigrette can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)


Think beans are just for cold weather?

Think again. In a crispy cool bean salad, beans are lighter, yet still as filling.  This side-dish favorite can be prepared in countless ways. So pick your bean base from one of the choices below and then try one the recipes in this post:

Kidney: For a meatier main dish, mix these rich beans with barley, fresh green peppers and a can of tuna and then top with an olive oil and lemon dressing.

Black:  For a Tex-Mex style salad, simply mix beans with corn, tomatoes, green onions, fresh cilantro and top it all off with a sprinkling of lime juice and olive oil.

Green:  Crisp and garden fresh, green beans will give your salad lots of crunch. Toss them with cherry tomatoes, soft feta cheese and grilled corn. Add a lemon-mint vinaigrette to really bring out the flavors.

Pinto:  Make a spicy salad by mixing pinto beans with cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, onions, celery and fresh parsley. Toss in an herbed vinaigrette and add a splash of Tabasco for extra flavor.

Garbanzo:  A highly versatile bean, garbanzos are great mixed in couscous with roasted bell peppers, red onions, cucumbers and feta cheese. Toss in a honey-Dijon dressing to finish.

Beans are eaten around the world with all kinds of flavorings and accompaniments. Black beans, for example, seem well-suited to Mexican style salads, while the flavors of the Mediterranean—green beans, anchovies, basil, thyme and fruity olive oil—enhance creamy white beans. Indian flavors—cumin, ginger, yogurt and cilantro—are great for chickpea salads as are Middle Eastern flavors—garlic, parsley, olive oil and feta.

You can easily make these salads by opening a can or two of beans and mixing them with seasonings and your favorite salad dressings. However, 1 cup dried beans gives you 2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked beans and, with the exception of chickpeas which actually take well to canning, most beans suffer, becoming quite mushy when canned. When you use canned beans, you also miss a chance to add extra flavor to your salads. Including a few aromatic vegetables and seasonings in the pot when cooking dried beans is an opportunity to add depth and character to the final dish. If you do use canned beans, try a few brands to see which you like best. The organic ones taste better and usually have little or no salt. Just remember to always rinse canned beans well before using.

Most beans improve in flavor and texture when cooked a day in advance. If you plan to hold them for a day or so, refrigerate the beans in their cooking liquid once they’ve cooled. If kept at room temperature for too long, beans can sour and ferment.

To soak or not to soak?

Soaking dried beans in water overnight before cooking them has two benefits: most soaked beans cook faster—up to an hour less. Also, if the soaking water is poured off, the beans will be easier to digest because you’re leaching out and pouring off the oligosaccharides that cause gas.

If you are not good at planning ahead, there’s a quick-soaking method. Cover the beans with water and bring them to a boil. Boil for two minutes and then let them soak for an hour off the heat, drain, and then add fresh water and continue cooking.

Many people believe dried beans last forever. In fact, very old beans and those that have been stored in hot, humid conditions might never soften even after hours of cooking. Yet it’s almost impossible to tell the age of dried beans. If you have a good market that goes through beans quickly, you’d do well to buy them there. Heirloom beans are available by mail from small growers.

To salt or not?

A major debate exists in the culinary world on whether adding salt or acids to beans slows down the cooking time or toughens the beans.  Cook’s Illustrated did a study and concluded that salt has no effect on cooking time or bean texture. Furthermore, they suggest that for maximum flavor, it’s actually essential to salt your beans at the beginning rather than the end of of cooking. Also, when soaking beans, Cook’s Illustrated says that by using salt water, the bean will cook up with softer and more pliable skins.  

Tomato sauce, wine, lemon juice and vinegar, however, do prevent the starch on the inside of the bean from swelling and becoming tender. These ingredients can be added to bean salads, but not until the beans are fully cooked and soft. And speaking of acidic ingredients, don’t dress cooked beans until the day you are serving the salad. Though the beans need some time to absorb the flavor from the dressing, too much time in contact with the acidic ingredients—and this includes yogurt—will make the beans mushy.

After cooking the beans and letting them cool in their broth, strain them and mix them with summertime ingredients, such as basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and chiles from the farmers’ market. These salads are good for a light lunch along with some bread—crusty Italian with white bean salads, warmed tortillas with the black beans or and pita with chickpea salads.

Consider experimenting with a pot of cooked beans to create your own salad. Try some of the recipes below for a different side dish to add interest at your next BBQ. These recipes also make use of the many fresh vegetables that are available this time of year.

Basic Method For Cooking Dried Beans

Use this basic method to cook any type of dried bean, including cannellini, kidney beans, chickpeas, and more. 1 cup dried beans yields about 3 cups.

Ingredients:

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 to 3 sprigs fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, or flat-leaf parsley)

1 to 1-1/2 cups dried beans, sorted through, rinsed and soaked

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Wrap the bay leaves, garlic,and herbs in cheesecloth and tie with twine. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches (about 2 quarts). Add the herb bundle and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are tender but not splitting and falling apart, 1 to 2 hours depending on the type and freshness the of beans. Cannellini and kidney beans take about 1 hour and 15 minutes; chickpeas may take up to two hours. Best way to tell is to taste one of the beans. Check occasionally to be sure the beans aren’t boiling and that they are covered with liquid; add water if needed. Discard the herb bundle.

Black Bean Salad

Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 -3 big handfuls baby salad greens, well washed and dried
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Making the dressing: I use an immersion blender – but a blender or food processor will work just as well. Combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, jalapeño, salt, garlic and mustard. Puree and add the olive oil and puree again until everything comes together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.

Just before you are ready to serve the salad, gently toss the salad greens with a small amount of the dressing. Arrange it on a platter. Now toss the beans and most of the almonds with the remaining dressing. Arrange the beans on top of the salad greens and finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and the crumbled feta cheese. 

Bean Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino Cheese

If you can find yellow wax beans use half green and half yellow.

6 servings

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil

Salad:

  • 1 ½ lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 8 cups (packed) torn arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh savory leaves or fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 2 ounces semi-firm sheep’s-milk cheese (such as pecorino romano), shaved with vegetable peeler

For dressing:

Whisk shallot, vinegar and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in both oils. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before adding to the salad.

For salad:

Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water just until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer beans to colander and cool.

Combine beans and arugula in large bowl. Toss with dressing. Transfer salad to serving platter; sprinkle with walnuts, olives, herbs and pepper. Top with shaved cheese.

Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Serves four to six

If you use canned chickpeas in place of dried, don’t cook them. Add the turmeric and salt to them (but not the onion or bay leaves) and continue with the recipe as directed. Toast the whole spices in a heavy-based skillet just until fragrant; crush them with a mortar and pestle or grind them coarsely in a coffee grinder dedicated to spices.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, well rinsed (soaked and drained), or 3 cups canned (see note above), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 small potatoes (about 8 oz. total)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 medium-size hot green chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Directions:

In a deep, heavy-based pot, cover the chickpeas with 6 to 8 cups cold water. Add the turmeric, bay leaves, yellow onion and 1 tsp. salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce to a gentle simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes; let cool in the broth.

In a heavy-based pot, cover the potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 20 min. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into small cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream. Add the ginger, cumin, fennel and chile. Mix well.

Drain the chickpeas, discarding the onion and bay leaves. In a serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, potatoes, cucumber and red onion. Mix in the yogurt dressing, cilantro and mint. Combine well. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips ; The beans can be cooked a day ahead (in fact, the flavor and texture will be even better). Cool the beans to room temperature, then refrigerate them in their cooking liquid; bring to room temperature  and drain before assembling the salad.

Warm Kidney Bean Salad

Try this bean salad as a side with barbecue pork or grilled chicken.

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 — (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, sliced in half

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add oregano, vinegar and beans. Cook over low heat until beans are warm.

Remove from heat and stir in salt, parsley and olives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

White Bean and Baby Zucchini Salad

White-Bean Salad with Zucchini 

White beans add heartiness while chopped zucchini adds crunch to this vegetarian salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 small), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (3/4 cup)
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice and oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Note: Small zucchini are sweeter than larger ones, especially when used raw.

Green Bean Salad with Prosciutto

4 to 6 servings

The flavor of Prosciutto di Parma, the most famous of the Italian hams, makes a delicious addition to this summery salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally in half
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut in matchsticks (about 2 cups)
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam beans in steamer basket over boiling water until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Empty into a colander and cool.

Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

 


Salads are no longer the bowls of lettuce and tomatoes of yesterday. Today’s modern salads are full of zest and flavor and are often served as meals in and of themselves. Some of the most diverse salads are those that come from Italy. Authentic Italian spring salad recipes provide light, flavorful alternatives to heavier meals and bring a little taste of Old World Italy to your dining table, often with ingredients that are already in your kitchen.

A classic insalata mista (salad of mixed greens) often combines a variety of whatever salad ingredients are freshest and in season. Romaine and other Italian lettuces, Belgian endive, arugula, radicchio, dandelion greens, very young radish tops, sorrel leaves, chive flowers or fresh young herb leaves (oregano, basil or thyme) are a few of the possibilities.

Italian Salad Making Basics

Greens should be loosely wrapped in damp paper or cotton towels and refrigerated until shortly before the salad is to be prepared. Using wooden utensils will help avoid bruising tender greens.

Extra virgin olive oil is always the most essential ingredient and that is usually simply combined with white or balsamic vinegar or lemon, which is especially common in the central southern region of Italy. Only in the last generation or so have Italians begun to explore more elaborate vinaigrettes and dressings.

In any discussion of salad dressings, there are just a couple of things to keep in mind: Always apply the dressing just minutes before serving it, otherwise, the vinegar or lemon will wilt the lettuce leaves. Only dress the amount of salad you intend to eat. You can store the rest in the refrigerator with a wet kitchen towel on top of it. (Tupperware is perfect for storing salad; just be sure the lettuce is thoroughly dry.) If you have any leftover salad dressing, most can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or more.

Another very important thing to remember before applying whatever dressing you choose, is that it is crucial that you thoroughly dry the lettuce after you’ve washed it; there is nothing worse than a salad with soggy lettuce. If you use a spinner-which is a really great invention-after the first spin, be sure to stop and turn the lettuce. Sometimes the leaves act as a kind of a screen, impeding the water from actually being expelled. If you spin and turn the lettuce a couple of times, you can be sure to enjoy a crisp salad later.

For most green salads, the serving bowl and individual salad plates should be chilled slightly, while the dressing should be at room temperature.

Lemon Dressing

Classic Italian Vinaigrette

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Make this dressing up to a week ahead. Add it sparingly to greens along with cracked black pepper.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cracked pepper

Directions:

Combine lemon juice, vinegar and salt in small bowl or jar. Stir to dissolve salt. Whisk in olive oil. Let stand 10 minutes. Add pepper add additional salt, if desired.

Spring Salads

One of the most flavorful of traditional Italian spring salads is also one of the easiest to prepare. Insalata Caprese is a light, savory salad made from tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, olive oil and seasonings. To prepare: slice four large, ripe tomatoes into slices 1/4 inch thick. Slice 1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. On a large platter, place tomato and mozzarella slices along with fresh basil leaves in intermittent layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Before serving, sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve cold.

The most classic version of Italian spring salad contains fresh ingredients such as grated Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic and black olives. To prepare: in a medium-size bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, one clove of roasted and finely minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of dried, crushed oregano. As you whisk the combination, slowly add 4 teaspoons of olive oil. Set the mixture aside. In a large, separate bowl, combine 4 cups of mixed spring salad, one medium yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips, one fresh red onion cut into rings and 1/4 cup of fresh black olives. Toss salad until well mixed and then top with dressing mixture. Before serving, season with fresh ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve cold.

Insalata Primavera is a light, but hearty salad that will easily substitute for heavier dishes for warmer weather lunches or suppers. To prepare: in a large bowl, combine 18 cooked, yet still firm, asparagus spears that have been chopped into 2-inch pieces, 1/2 pound of fresh green beans that have been cooked and cut in half, six cooked and sliced artichoke hearts, three large peeled and diced tomatoes and 1 thinly sliced peeled cucumber. In a medium-size glass jar, combine 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup of your favorite white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Place a lid on the glass jar and shake vigorously until mixed well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad before serving. Serve cold.

Arugula Salad with Salami and Pecorino Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 clove garlic, pounded to a paste with a pinch of salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed
  • 4 large handfuls arugula, about 5 oz, washed and dried
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 oz piece of stick salami, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 oz aged Tuscan Pecorino cheese, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch dice

Directions:

Combine the garlic and vinegar or lemon juice in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the oil. Taste and add more salt or vinegar, if necessary.

Just before serving, use a mandolin to thinly slice the fennel. In a large work bowl, combine the shaved fennel with the arugula, salami and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens.

With a delicate hand, transfer the salad to a platter or individual serving plates, making a fluffy pile of greens. Sprinkle the salami and cheese that have fallen to the bottom of the bowl on top. Serve immediately.

Tortellini Salad Italiana

Ingredients

  • 2-9 oz packages fresh cheese and spinach tortellini (refrigerated, prepared according to package directions)
  • 2 cups yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh small mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini), halved
  • 1 cup tomato vinaigrette dressing, recipe below
  • 1/2 cup prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 12 cup basil, thinly sliced
  • black pepper, fresh cracked

Directions:

Combine prepared pasta, bell peppers, cheese, vinaigrette, prosciutto, tomatoes and basil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour

Tomato Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
  • 4 tablespoons chiffonade basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

In a nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, herbs, shallots, lemon juice and 1 1/4 cups olive oil. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Warm Bean Salad With Fresh Herbs and Olives

An excellent side dish to meat or fish. Also good with shrimp added to the salad.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked and drained white beans (or canned). If made from dried beans, save about 1/3 cup of cooking liquid.
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Scant 1/3 cup bean cooking liquid, water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place the beans in a medium nonstick skillet and set aside.

Prepare herb mixture. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small skillet and cook on low heat until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes.

Increase heat slightly and add rosemary and thyme. Cook until the herbs begin to sizzle- do not let garlic burn.

Add the bean cooking liquid (or other stock) and olives, increase heat and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat.

Scatter the parsley and basil over the beans in the other skillet. Pour the dressing over them and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost all absorbed by the beans.

Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Italian Seafood Salad with String Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 pound cleaned squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rings, tentacles halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops or quartered sea scallops
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 1/2 pounds small clams scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound mixed yellow wax and green beans, ends trimmed, beans cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and cook, stirring, until the shrimp turn a light pink, about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a platter. Add the water to the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the pan juices into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Add the squid and scallops. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to the platter.

Pour the reserved pan juices from the bowl into the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the mussels, clams and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over high heat until the shells open, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels and clams to a large bowl; discard any that do not open. When the shells are cool enough to handle, remove the meat and add it to the platter.

Pour any accumulated shellfish juices into the skillet and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Pour the liquid into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil and let cool. Stir in all of the seafood and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool under running water; pat dry. Add the beans, basil, tomatoes and parsley to the seafood salad. Season with salt and cayenne and serve with lemon wedges.


Ultimate Chicken Wing

Go team! Game day is the perfect time to gather friends and family to cheer on your favorite team. But who wants to be running in and out of the kitchen between plays to check the oven? The key to this menu is that it’s full of delicious recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, so you can enjoy the game too!

Since the TV will be at the center of the party, set out the food as a buffet. Include snack mixes, nuts and fresh vegetables for nibbling. Serve an assortment of beers and soft drinks. Decorate with team banners, streamers and plates and napkins in your team’s colors.

Game Day Party Tips

Even though game day parties are usually pretty casual, being organized and one step ahead of the game will ensure that you have as much fun as your guests. Here are some hints to help you strategize.

As with all parties, any menu items that can be made ahead will help ease the pressure on the day of the event. Dips and spreads are always good options, as are chilies and barbecue-type meats.

If children are part of the party crowd, create a kids’ zone with kid-friendly finger foods and activities to keep them busy.

Place ice-filled buckets or containers around the house to hold drinks rather than storing them in your refrigerator. It gives the party more of a tailgate feel, plus it frees up valuable space in the refrigerator and keeps folks from congregating in the kitchen. If it’s cold where you live, consider keeping drinks in a cooler on the porch or in the garage. If you want to serve a warm drink, keep it in a thermal coffee carafe so it stays hot.

If you know that some of your guests won’t necessarily be that “into” the game, you might set up a separate area for them to socialize and enjoy themselves.

Use a few slow cookers to keep things like party meatballs, chili and cheese dips warm during the course of the afternoon or evening.

Game Day Party Menu:

Pesto, Tomato, and Provolone Bruschetta

 Ingredients:

 Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F

Slice baguette into 16 – 1/2″ thick slices and toast under the broiler, or in the oven at 400° F until toasted. Remove from oven and spray one side of each slice with olive oil cooking spray.

Slice each tomato into 4 slices. Top each slice of toast with 1 teaspoon of pesto, a slice of tomato and a piece of cheese.

Bake on the top rack of the oven for 2 to 4 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serves 16.

Tuna Dip

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-7-ounce can Italian tuna, packed in extra virgin olive oil, drained and reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil reserved from the tuna can
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh-cut vegetables (celery, radishes, carrots), for serving

 Directions:

Place the tuna in a blender or food processor and pulse to break it up. Turn on low speed and add the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper, one at a time, until they are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.

Place in a small bowl and serve with the fresh-cut vegetables on the side.

Italian Shredded Chicken Sliders

 Ingredients:

  • 5 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 20 small slider buns
  • 1/2 pound shredded mozzarella
  • Basil leaves for garnish, optional

 Directions:

Heat the sauce in a large saucepan and add the chicken breasts and seasonings.

Braise the chicken on low for an hour or until the chicken is very tender.

Remove the breasts from the sauce and place in a bowl. Shred the chicken with 2 forks.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Layout out the slider buns and top with 1/4 cup of the chicken. Top with shredded cheese. Place sliders in the broiler until cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes. Garnish with basil.

Italian Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of white beans, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a serving bowl combine beans, red onion and sun dried tomatoes.  Mix carefully.  Combine olive oil, vinegar and seasonings in a small container and pour over beans.  Mix well.

Serve at once or refrigerate for serving at a later time. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

20 Servings

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar or 2 tablespoons sugar alternative
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, melted (Smart Balance)

Filling:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar or equivalent sugar alternative
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 20 walnut halves, toasted

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheeses and sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, flour, pie spice and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust.

Bake at 325° for 35-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Cut cheesecake into 20 bars; top each with a walnut half. 



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