By Lorie Fangio, TSB Contributor
The sweltering July heat robs me of my ambition to prepare a hot weeknight meal. As the temperatures hover relentlessly around 100 degrees it’s hard to get motivated to do anything besides stay inside where it’s cool and who wants to heat up the house with the oven and cooktop? This is the perfect time to call on produce that is plentiful and at its peak. Crisp summer salads packed with fresh ingredients that spend the year as yummy side dishes, are now ready to take center stage.
Whip up some of my favorite main course salads for a cool alternative to a steamy meal. Tantalizing Fruit and Walnut Salad combines romaine lettuce and spinach with a variety of goodies for added bursts of flavor; discover how easy it is to make fresh vinaigrette that would be fantastic drizzled over any salad. Try my BLT Wedge for a steakhouse staple that’s topped off with tasty nuggets and the dreamy creamy Blue Cheese Dressing is out of this world. Traditional pasta salad takes a turn towards Greece with lots of crunchy vegetables and a simple dressing that’s sure to make this one of your favorite summer go to recipes. Need a little more than just salad greens to fill you up? Then fire up the grill and add some lean protein like salmon, chicken or shrimp and you’ve got a nutritious satisfying meal on the table.
Crispy, cool, salads are as tempting to the eye as they are to the taste buds, so make some of my salad favorites today and load your plate with nature’s bounty. Make dinnertime magic happen with the freshest produce of the season. For more great recipes follow Lorie’s Blog and be sure to check out her schedule for lots of great cooking classes.
Fruit and Walnut Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice and the zest from one orange
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot minced (can substitute 1 clove of garlic)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 head of romaine lettuce washed and chopped
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup strawberries chopped
½ cup blueberries
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup walnuts coarsely chopped
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Prepare vinaigrette by combining all ingredients except olive oil. Whisk vigorously while adding oil in a continuous stream. Toss salad ingredients with vinaigrette, dot salad with cheese and serve.
Greek Pasta Salad
1 9 ounce package of cheese filled tortellini
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
½ cucumbers chopped
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
½ red onions finely chopped
1 14ounce can artichokes chopped
1 2 ounce can of sliced black olives
4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
1 lemon juiced and zested
1 clove of garlic minced
½ cup fat free Italian dressing
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Cook pasta in salted boiling water. Let cool in refrigerator or ice bath. In a large bowl combine all vegetables and pasta and toss. In a small bowl mix lemon juice, zest, garlic, Italian dressing, feta cheese and black pepper. Pour dressing mixture over salad and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and serve.
BLT Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing
-Blue Cheese Dressing
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head of iceberg lettuce
1 avocado cubed
½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved
4 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
¼ cup pistachios
To prepare dressing whisk all ingredients together, reserving ½ of the cheese crumbles. Once mixed well add remaining cheese and refrigerate until needed. Wash and core head of lettuce. Cut lettuce in half, cut each half into thirds giving you 6 wedges. Dress each wedge on separate plates or on a large platter with remaining ingredients and a generous helping of blue cheese dressing.