Summer Salads I

by Mark R. Vogel

            “Salad is the kind of food that real food eats,” proclaimed Alf, the furry alien sitcom character from the 80’s.  Clearly Alf’s rebuking of greens revealed his carnivorous orientation.  However, his red meat of choice was cats.  Most humans would prefer a plate of salad to Mr. Puss n Boots, but hey, to each his own.

            Salads are certainly consumed all year long.  However, because they are lighter fare and most often served cold, they are particularly associated with summer.  The culinary encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique defines salad as “a dish of raw, cold, or warm cooked foods, usually dressed and seasoned, served as an appetizer, side dish or main course.”  With the breadth of that definition, Alf’s favorite dish could be considered a salad.  Let’s rein in the nomenclature and define salads via Merriam-Webster:  a:  green vegetables (as lettuce, endive, or romaine) and often tomatoes, cucumbers, or radishes served with dressing or b: a dish of meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, fruits, or vegetables singly or in combination usually served cold with a dressing.”  With this latter definition in mind, let’s make some salads.

 

BEAN SALAD

 

2 cans (15.5 oz) Goya small white beans

2 small to medium, on the vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

4 sticks celery, chopped

2 garlic gloves, finely minced

Parsley and fresh thyme, to taste, chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

            Rinse the beans thoroughly under running water and dry.  Chop the tomatoes, onion, pepper, and celery into a small dice.  Aim for the same size or less than the beans.  Mince the garlic fine however for a more uniform dispersal throughout the salad.  Add in the parsley, thyme and lemon juice and then adjust the olive oil, salt and pepper to suit your taste.

 

SUMMER GREEK SALAD

 

1 lb. Feta cheese

2 cucumbers, sliced thin

1 lb. kalamata olives

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 scallions, sliced thin

1 small red or green bell pepper, sliced thin

4 large, ripe tomatoes cut into quarters

1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

4 oz. extra virgin olive oil

1 oz red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

 

Drain the cheese, roughly chop it and place it in a large salad bowl.  Add the cucumbers, olives, scallions, bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and mix.  Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl and then pour over the salad and toss.  Other common additions include romaine lettuce and anchovies.

 

AMBROSIA

(Fruit salad)

 

1 banana, sliced

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

2 oranges, pared and sectioned

1 kiwi, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut across into 1/4-inch pieces

One third of a cup orange juice

1 cup vanilla ice cream

Three quarters of a cup shredded coconut

 

            Mix the banana, grapes, oranges, kiwi, and orange juice.  Divide the ice cream into four bowls.  Pour the fruit mixture over the ice cream and then sprinkle with the shredded coconut.

 

GRILLED CALAMARI & RADICCHIO SALAD

 

2 heads of radicchio di Verona, (the round kind), quartered

4 squid, tentacles, heads, and beak removed

Regular olive oil as needed for grilling

Half cup arugula

Half a red onion sliced thin

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Salt & pepper to taste

 

            Heat your grill to medium/medium-high.  Cut the radicchio through the root end so each quarter has one fourth of the core.  This will help keep each segment in tact.  If any of the outer leaves do detach, simply grill them separately.  Rinse the radicchio quarters, pat dry and set aside.  Scrape the membrane off the squid bodies.  Cut down one side of each body and unfold.  With a paring knife, make a series of cuts, less than halfway into the flesh, along the length of the body.  Now make another series of cuts diagonally crossing the first ones.  Again, be very careful to not cut too deep or the squid will come apart.  This procedure is known as scoring and will allow them to grill flat and not curl up.  Brush the squid and the radicchio quarters with olive oil.  Start by grilling the radicchio on one of the flat sides.  Each side will take 2-3 minutes.  Give them a head start and then start grilling the squid, turning once, until just cooked through and lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes.  Do not overcook or it will become rubbery.  Mix the arugula and red onion and place in the center of a large platter.  Cut the calamari into strips and sprinkle over top of the arugula.  Arrange the radicchio quarters around the pile of arugula.  Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad. 

 

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