We all know that summer truly came to an end a few weeks ago when the kids (and teachers) went back to school, but with the official change of seasons this week I thought it would be nice to compile some of my favorite salads that I’ve posted this summer along with a few new ones that I haven’t yet photographed.
Now, I have to preface this list with the fact that these are not the only salads I make. In fact, these are strictly my party salads (one’s that I serve at a party or bring to a potluck) and salads for lunch. For dinner I rarely make such a filling side dish, but often use spinach or romaine with a few other simple ingredients and a favorite dressing or a fast homemade one to round out my veggie intake.
Pasta Salad My favorite recreation this year is probably a Trader Joe’s inspired Israeli Couscous Spa Salad. For over a year I was buying a pre-made salad similar to this one at the market when I realized that I could reinvent this salad at home pretty easily. As a result I decided to combine it with some Waldorf-like ingredients to make a really fresh and filling meal and not so much like the romaine based one at the food chain.
Hearty Salad One that stands the test of time for my family is the Marinated Mushroom Salad, which is so simple and hearty that you could certainly toss it with some cooked pasta to make a meal too. The great thing about this one is that the ingredients like bacon and garlic add a lovely robust flavor to the meal and it’s darn easy to make, I mean you just pile it all in a bowl and let it sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve it. That’s why this one always makes an appearance at holiday meals.
Bean Salad Another hearty one is the White Bean Picnic Salad. The flavors here are so fresh and clean that they pop against the creaminess of the white beans. The nice thing about this one is that you control the sodium since you’re not using canned beans. But hey, you certainly could cut down on the time involved by using a canned low sodium white bean of your choice. I’m not against using those types of shortcuts that make our lives simpler, but in this case I was trying to cut the salt down in our diet. That’s the great part about eating flavorful food, you don’t need as much of that other stuff, like salt, if you’ve wonderful food.
Slaw Ok so eventually I move to slaws. As far as slaws go, they’re normally too sweet for me, and the mayo in most of them really grosses me out. So I tend to toss my coleslaw mix with a store-bought Asian Dressing, but I also like to make this Thai Carrot Slaw, which would be really fun for a Halloween party.
Spinach Salad So my favorite spinach salad has to be one that I copied from the Marriott Desert Springs Spa. They no longer have this one on their menu, weep weep, but I ordered it so many times before they took it off that I have got the flavor profile down, and now I feel that I own it.
I haven’t taken any pictures of it, crazy since I just made it for our back to school party, but I thought as I was accumulating ideas I couldn’t ignore this one. It’s pretty simple. Here it goes. In a serving bowl combine one pound of baby spinach, one sweet potato (peel it, cube it, then steam for 4 minutes in the microwave) , a kid-sized box of raisins, a couple of handfuls of pecans toasted, a handful or two or dried cranberries and a few slivers of red onion. Toss with your favorite dressing. A sweet one like a honey mustard works well. To mix your own Honey Mustard vinaigrette simply combine 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Or… I often use my go to party dressing in a pinch, Girard’s White Balsamic Vinaigrette. This one serves 3-4 as a meal.
As summer’s end officially makes it’s mark on the calendar, we all know the weather hasn’t followed the rules this year, so go ahead and continue to make some salads as a light dinner. Maybe this collection will give you a few more in your repettoire.