What comes to mind when you think about summertime? How about the fact that it’s grilling season? Around my house, grilling & summer food are a big deal. All the fresh ingredients...ugh…like heaven. Well anyways, what accompanies grilled food oh so well? Creamy, delicious, summer salads. Here is a compilation of the tastiest for your Summer 2012.
Garden Pasta Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
This one uses fresh garden vegetables and herbs and a super easy lemon dijon dressing to make it the perfect barbeque or picnic accompaniment. This recipe is just a starting point; switch up the vegetables and herbs depending on what's available. Use what you like in whatever combination you like, it's all good. Crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese is also a great addition to this simple salad.
6 cups cooked cold pasta (rotini and fuscilli work well)
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (here I've used mint, basil, oregano and chives)
Lemon Dijon Dressing:
1/2 cup plain mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice (alternatively apple cider vinegar is very good too)
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to season
3 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
1 tbsp sugar
Whisk or shake together and toss with all of the ingredients above. This salad is best when left for a couple of hours or overnight for the flavors to meld.
Roasted Potato Salad
A new take on an old favorite. This updated potato salad also features artichokes and bell peppers, all coated in a creamy, blue cheese sour cream dressing.
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cups red potatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
6 oz artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp deli mustard
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425.
On a baking sheet, place the red onions, potatoes and pell pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat. Roast at 425 for 25-35 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender, tossing every 10-15 minutes while roasting. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, add the remaining ingredients, along with the roasted vegetables and toss to coat. You can serve this either warm or cold, depending on your preference.
Gemelli with Tomatoes, Olives & Ricotta
Light and fresh, and topped with a cool dollop of fresh ricotta. Simply said – it’s just plain good.
8 ounces gemelli (or fusilli or penne)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/3 cup fresh basil, torn
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat, so the pasta doesn’t clump.
Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together pasta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, olives, basil, and salt. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a scoop of ricotta, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with pepper.
Creamy Grape Salad
This creamy grape salad is fresh and light, with just the right balance of sweet and tart.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pounds seedless red grapes
2 pounds seedless green grapes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the grapes until evenly coated. Mix in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and toasted almonds.
Serve chilled. Top with the remaining brown sugar and almonds.
Creamy Cucumber Salad with Dill
4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or to taste
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. sour cream whisked with 3 tbs of White Vinegar
1 tsp cracked pepper
Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Gently toss in the sour cream mixture, then srir in pepper and dill, cover, and refrigerate until cold. This can also be eaten at room temperature, but be sure to allow the cucumbers to marinate for at least 1 hour.