Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer salads

(For Monkey, because she asked nicely)

See, the thing about living in Denver is that it is hot in the summer. A dry heat, to be sure, but consistently hot. And there's no large body of water around to cool things off at night, so when we don't get afternoon thunderstorms (which we haven't gotten ANY so far this year, WTF Colorado?) it can stay really hot even at night. Our house is old and leaky and we don't have air conditioning, so when it's in the 90s or higher for days on end and not cooling off at night, the last thing we want to do is heat up the kitchen any more than we have to.

So what do we do? We eat a lot of salad. Dinner-sized, delicious salads that are healthy and produce minimal heat to prepare. Here are three dinner salads we make fairly regularly during the summer.

Poached salmon salad with strawberries (makes 2 dinner-size salads)

1/2 pound salmon fillet (we try to buy wild when possible, but this year it's just way too expensive)
assortment of fresh herbs (basil, dill, lemon thyme, what have you), chopped

Poach salmon in a pan over low heat, skin side down, in some water with the herbs on top. You can add citrus juice (lemon, lime), rice vinegar, whatever. When fish is cooked, remove skin, transfer to a plate, and stick in the fridge to cool off.

Meanwhile, compose (in two large eating bowls) a salad of
green leaf lettuce
cucumbers, sliced and quartered
carrots (we use a vegetable peeler to make carrot peels/curls)
strawberries, chopped
red onion, diced

in whatever quantities sound good. Add some goat cheese if you're feeling feisty. We do. Toss with balsamic vinegrette (Dan makes this from scratch, but I'm sure bottled stuff would be fine).

When fish is cool, split in half and place half atop each salad. Serve with some crusty bread or just eat as-is.

Taco Salad (makes 2 dinner-sized salads)

1/2 pound ground turkey, browned, drained, and cooked in taco seasoning (either made from scratch or a mix) and a little liquid (water?) to make sure meat is coated

Green or red leaf lettuce
red onion, diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
1/2 regular size can of black beans
corn, either from a can or the cob (if using fresh, cut kernals from cob and then steam a few minutes)
chopped red bell pepper
chopped tomato (if in season)

in whatever amounts appeal to you

Toss vegetable ingredients, then top with taco-ised turkey, a few crumbled tortilla chips, and a bit of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (because I'm going to eat flavorful cheese if I'm going to eat cheese at all). We use a dressing made of half jarred salsa, half ranch.

Chef Salad (again, makes 2 large dinner salads)

Green or red leaf lettuce
red onion, diced
red and/or yellow bell pepper, chopped
cucumber, sliced and quartered
carrot, chopped or in peels
sugar snap peas, chopped into small pieces
fresh tomato, chopped (if in season)

in amounts best pleasing to you

Toss together and top with:
cubed extra sharp cheddar cheese (small cubes)
a few slices of lunch meat (we use turkey for me and ham/turkey for Dan), chopped into small pieces
one hardboiled egg for each salad, sliced

Dress with anything that sounds good. I prefer spicy tomato dressing but you can use just about anything.

et voila! Three summer salads, tasty and healthy, that don't require much cooking or heating of the kitchen.

Anyone else have good salad recipes or ideas? I'm going to experiment a bit with salads this summer, so I'll write more about that later.


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

oooh, I really like the Vietnamese ones. Cocktail shrimp (thawed)...or if you want to save the money, boil some shrimps on the stove and then cool. Rest of salad consists of julienned red leaf cabbage, bean sprouts, red bell peppers, mint leaves, thai basil leaves, cilantro, ground peanuts, red onions, shredded carrots, lettuce (I like butter but it can be expensive so choose your poison) or napa cabbage, and cucumbers.

Dressing is a blendered mix of fish sauce, sriracha, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and lime juice.

Pretty easy.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

You can also make with a poached chicken breast or baked tofu. Cocktail shrimp thawed would be the option that wouldn't use your stove but I don't know what the price of shrimp is in your neighbourhood.

Hillary said...

my fave is bean salad:

1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 can corn kernels, rinsed
1 can olives, sliced
diced red onion
diced red pepper
diced cucumber

all mixed together with a zingy vinaigrette (I put lots of fresh garlic in mine for extra zing)

just before serving I top with:
chopped tomato
chopped fresh parsley
goats cheese

Cagey said...

All of these sound SO GOOD. And since you are Monkey's friend and by association, Have Good Taste in Food (a designation that Monkey automatically earned with the color of her skin. :-), you earned some points in Manoj's book. I read these salads out loud to him and he is interested. Thank you! I would love to eat more salads like this.

MLE said...

Mmm, monkey, that sounds good! We need to use more of our thai basil because we have a bumper crop this year, so we'll definitely be trying this.

hillary, I love bean salad! I need to make some this summer, haven't made it in ages.

I forgot to mention that sometimes we put chopped jicama in the taco salad, which adds crunch and a little bit of sweetness.