Salad Days

by Sue Taggart

It’s finally getting warmer and as much as we have been loving the comfort food, it’s time to dial it down on the premade mac and cheese, salt laden soups and baking goodies that have consumed us during these challenging times. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy them every now and again, but they can’t be our staple diet, not if we want a robust immune system that will serve us well in the days, weeks and months to come. And if there is  going to be a meat shortage, bumping up the salads will make life a whole lot easier and you really won’t miss the meat, I promise!

Here are four of my personal favorites. They’re super simple  and quick to make, all the ingredients are easy to find and above all they are just delicious, make sure you don’t go overboard on the dressings. If you need a little something on the side, flatbreads are perfect. Light and crispy, low in carbs and calories and for extra nutrition try them made with Kamut® wheat flour – super yummy!

So, let’s get chopping! And remember, it’s OK to substitute and mix it up a bit!

Greek Salad

My all time go to salad for a super quick lunch.

Serves 4:

1 pt.           grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1                 cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons

1 cup         halved kalamata olives

½                red onion, thinly sliced

¾ cup        crumbled feta

2 Tsp         red wine vinegar

¼ cup        extra-virgin olive oil

½                lemon – juice

1 tsp          dried oregano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Make salad: In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and red onion. Gently fold in feta.

In a small bowl, make dressing: Combine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Caprese Salad

One of my favorite seasonal salads! Not only it is the simplest thing in the world to prepare, but also it just tastes like summer on a plate! The quantity of ingredients really depends on how hungry you are, so the following is a suggestion for a light lunch for two people.

Serves 2:

8oz           fresh mozzarella – cut into ¼” thick slices

2               large organic beefsteak or vine ripened tomatoes cut into ¼” thick slices

15 – 20    fresh basil leaves

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

balsamic vinegar for drizzling

sea salt and fresh black pepper for seasoning

Layer alternating slices of mozzarella and tomatoes add basil leaves between the slices and on top. Drizzle with the olive oil, and I like to add balsamic vinegar – because I just love it! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pear and Roquefort Salad

Serves 6

1             head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (or fresh spinach)

3             pears – peeled, cored and chopped

5 oz       Roquefort cheese, crumbled

2             avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced

½ cup    thinly sliced green onions

¼ cup    white sugar

½ cup    pecans

½ cup    dried cranberries

⅓ cup    olive oil

3 Tbs     red wine vinegar

1½ tsp   white sugar

1½ tsp   prepared mustard

1             clove garlic, chopped

½            tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, stir ¼ cup of sugar together with a tablespoon of water

Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper.

Allow to cool and break into pieces.

For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans and cranberries, and serve.

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado  Salad

Spicing up shrimp is what makes this salad amazingly full of flavor. For a BBQ appetizer you can just serve a big plate of the shrimp on their own—make a lot, they are irresistible!

Serves 4:

You’ll need 24 – 32    large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (keep the tails on).

Marinade for the shrimp:

2 tbsp    fresh lime juice

1 tbsp     olive oil

2 tbsp     chili powder

1 tsp        cumin

1/4 tsp    fresh black pepper

1/2 tsp    red pepper flakes

2 peeled  garlic cloves

1/2 tsp    hot pepper sauce

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients, add shrimp, toss well. Cover and leave in refrigerator for 30 minutes. When ready to cook, heat the grill to medium high, and cook for 3-4 minutes each side

Salad:

24                    cherry tomatoes cut in half

1                      cucumber, peel and remove seeds. Cut in half lengthwise and chop into ¼” slices

16oz                mesclun salad mix

1                      medium Hass avocado – peeled and cut into ½” cubes

1/2                  small red onion sliced very thin

1                      lime, sliced for serving

sea salt and fresh black pepper for seasoning

Lemon Vinaigrette

2 tbsp      fresh lemon juice

5 tbsp      olive oil

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp     salt

1/2 tsp     ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients into a screw top jar and shake well. Arrange the salad on serving plates,  top with shrimp and serve with the lemon vinaigrette.

You can also use this recipe for filing Fajita’s – simply delish!

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