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  • Lighten up your table with crisp summer salads

  • Making salads is a highlight for summer cooking and there are thousands of recipes for any kind of salad that one can imagine. Salads can be made with fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, meat, fowl, dairy, grain and so many other foods that it is one of the most creative dishes one can make.
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  • Making salads is a highlight for summer cooking and there are thousands of recipes for any kind of salad that one can imagine. Salads can be made with fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, meat, fowl, dairy, grain and so many other foods that it is one of the most creative dishes one can make.
    Simple salads use a vinaigrette made with vinegar, spices and olive oil especially EVOO which is the tastiest olive oil. EVOO means Extra Virgin Olive Oil. To make a vinaigrette mix the vinegar and spices together in a small bowl or jar then slowly drizzle in a steady stream of EVOO and whisk or stir to mix thoroughly. The vinaigrette may be kept in a refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
     A cooking magazine had a photo of an Italian potato, carrot and olive salad in a magazine article about Italy, but they didnt have the recipe. The salad looked so appetizing that I created my own interpretation of this dish shown below.
    The ingredients of a salad are very important yet the salad dressing is what makes the salad special. Here are some salad dressings that may be used.
    Basic Vinaigrette
    (one fourth) cup red wine vinegar
    1        tablespoon Dijon mustard
    Salt and pepper to taste
    (one half) cup EVOO
    Whisk together in a small bowl vinegar mustard, salt and pepper. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Whisk until well blended. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
    Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette
    (one fourth) cup balsamic vinegar
    1-2     garlic cloves, crushed
    1        teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, chopped
    Salt and pepper to taste
    (one half) cup EVOO
    1        tablespoon Dijon mustard (Optional)
    Whisk together vinegar, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and 1-2 tablespoons water until thoroughly mixed. Slowly drizzle in EVOO and blend until creamy. Refrigerate up to a week.
    Strawberry/Spinach Salad
    1        pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
    2        cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
    4-6     tablespoons Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette
    (one fourth) cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks
    toasted pine nuts, for garnish
    In a salad bowl combine spinach leaves, strawberries and Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette. Toss coating evenly. Just before serving add and toss mozzarella cheese cubes and toasted pine nuts. Toss together gently.
    Italian Vinaigrette
    1/3 (one third) cup EVOO
    Page 2 of 3 - (one fourth) cup wine vinegar
    Salt ant Pepper to taste
    2        teaspoons dried sweet basil, oregano or tarragon, crushed
    Whisk together all ingredients and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
    Italian Potato, Carrot and Olive Salad
    2        large boiled potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1-inch pieces
    4        carrots, cooked until tender, sliced into coins
    1        cup small or medium black olives, pitted and drained
    1        cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
    1        small red onion, chopped
    1        tablespoon fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped
    olive oil
    champagne vinegar
    lemon juice
    (one half) cup crumbled Feta cheese
    Carrot and Raisin Salad
    Fresh String Beans with Garlic
    1        pound fresh green string beans, trimmed
    2-3     cloves fresh garlic, crushed
    3        tablespoons fresh lime juice or lemon juice
    2-3     tablespoons EVOO
    2-3     tablespoons champagne vinegar
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    (one fourth) cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    Whisk together dressing first in a small bowl or use a small jar to shake well. Combine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, champagne vinegar, lime juice and crushed garlic, mix well. Add chopped cilantro, set aside. Steam trimmed string beans for just 2 minutes under bright green, remove immediately, drain immediately and drizzle garlic dressing over string beans and toss, serve immediately.
    Rice and Red Kidney Bean Salad
    2        cups cooked brown rice
    1        15-ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    2        carrots, diced
    2        tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
    (one half) cup Vidalia onion, chopped
    3        tablespoons olive oil
    3        tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1-2     tablespoons Dijon mustard
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    Classic American Potato Salad
    3-4     medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes about (three fourths) of an      inch
    2        tablespoons white vinegar
    Page 3 of 3 - 2        celery ribs, chopped fine
    3        tablespoons chopped red onion
    3-4     tablespoons sweet pickle relish
    (one half) cup mayonnaise
    (one half) teaspoon celery seed
    3        tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    Cook potato cubes in pot with water to cover potatoes. Over medium heat bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes until tender. Drain and put into a bowl, toss gently with vinegar and let stand about 20 minutes.
    In another bowl whisk together celery, red onion, relish, mayonnaise, celery seed, parsley , pepper and salt. Whisk until completely mixed, pour over potatoes and gently fold in chopped parsley leaves. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
    Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead. 
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