Sunday, July 4, 2010

Salad Days part one

It's July, and there is barbequing. While I have some great grilling recipes coming up this summer, I thought it might be fun to toss around some salads.

I am cheerfully omnivorous. I love both meats and vegetables. There are a lot of times when I go to cookouts that I am poking around the pot luck offerings wondering where the hell are the vegetables? My solution? Start providing my own. Sometimes, I put spiced veggies on kabobs, but other times, I bring one of my salads, which has made me the "go-to" person in my social group for salads.

How to make a fun, interesting salad that people will eat? The first thing I suggest is throw away the iceberg lettuce. I did this several years ago because I was sharing space with a small furry rabbit named Blackavar, and later his little brother Nimbus.   

One of the first things the vet told me about being owned by a rabbit is to never feed them iceberg lettuce. The fibers are too tough for their digestive system. A friend of mine refers to iceberg as "crunchy water: and finds it only suitable for topping burgers or sandwiches. Regardless, this led me to explore a variety of greens, and while I don't love them all, I've come up with a few fun combinations.

This week's entry is a few salads I've created on my own, most of them around seven ingredients. They're all of the "toss ingredients together until it looks right" variety. I hope you try them, maybe improve on them. If you do, be sure to let me know!

Arugula and Goat Cheese with fig vinegar

This combination came from three sources. One was a Greek dish in a restaurant in Atlanta--a lovely roast pork loin served with goat cheese and fig jam. The second was a pizzeria in Danbury, CT that made an arugula and goat cheese pizza, which they served with balsamic. The piece d' resistance came from my friend Scott who gifted me with a bottle of fig vinegar on my birthday.

Goat Cheese
Chopped Walnuts
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
Fig Vinegar.

Caprese Pasta Salad
I love fresh mozzarella and fresh basil together. Pasta makes it hearty. I use rotini because it holds dressing  and herbs better than say, penne.

One 16 oz box rotini pasta
fresh mozzarella
grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half (so the dressing will soak in)
fresh basil
dried oregano
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Turkey Avocado Club Salad
This works with bacon and swiss instead of the smoked gouda. It also makes a great main dish on a really hot day, or can be stuffed in a pita.

Spring Mix  or your favorite lettuce blend
1/2 pound of sliced turkey (I like Trader Joe's) chopped
Smoked gouda, cut into cubes
One avocado, cubed (about twice as big as diced)
Olive Oil and red wine vinegar or your favorite mild creamy dressing

Mediterranean Herbed Salad
leafy romaine or your favorite lettuce blend
provolone or feta cheese
toasted pine nuts
fresh oregano
fresh flat-leaf parsely chopped
OPTIONAL:  sundried tomatoes in oil, cut into strips
lemon-infused oil
white wine vinegar

Got a favorite salad? I'd love to see it. Ditto if you have a recipe you'd like to try, or comments on any of the above.  Have a great long weekend!

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