Summer Salads VI
by Mark R. Vogel

            While specific guidelines vary, health pundits generally recommend consuming 7 - 12 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Seven to twelve servings!  Is that for a man or a swarm of locusts?  Well then, I propose we rethink how we conceptualize fruits and vegetables.  I think wine should count as a fruit.  Hey, it’s made from grapes.  One bottle of wine and I’ve amassed four servings of fruit.  And for that matter, vodka should be a vegetable.  Don’t look at me like I’m nuts.  It’s made from grain.  And ya know, red meat is really kinda sort of a vegetable.  How you ask?  Well, what do cows eat?  That’s right…… grass, corn, and grains.  Last time I checked those were all vegetables.  And just to make sure I don’t shirk my daily allowance duties, I assert that cigarettes are a vegetable.  Yes you heard me.  What is tobacco?  That’s right……a plant!  In fact, I think even more of a case can be made for cigarettes being a vegetable than a steak.  Seven to twelve servings?  No problem. 

            I sense you’re not buying my whimsical arguments.  Oh, alright.  For those of you with more traditional definitions of fruits and vegetables I proudly present to you the 6th edition of Summer Salads; my yearly compilation of plant potpourri.  Of course I had to mix a little protein in with the greens as in the forthcoming scallop and lobster salads.  But all jokes aside, some low fat protein in conjunction with fruits and/or vegetables is the ultimate in a healthy balance. 

So while you check out the recipes, I’m gonna go throw a steak on the grill and shake up a martini.  But don’t worry; I’m putting pepper on the steak and olives in the martini.  There’s two servings of vegetables right there.

           

SCALLOP & WATERCRESS SALAD

 

3 tangerines

Olive oil, as needed for sautéing

2 lbs. bay scallops

Salt and pepper, to taste

Light sprinkle of cayenne pepper

2 bunches watercress, thick parts of the stalks removed

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons blue agave syrup*

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

            Zest two of the three tangerines.  Reserve the zest.  With a sharp paring knife cut away the peel from all three tangerines.  Cut out segments from the tangerines, slicing around the white pith.  Reserve the segments.  After cutting out the segments, part of the center of the tangerines will be leftover.  Squeeze these leftover pieces of the tangerines to obtain four teaspoons of juice.  Reserve the juice.

            Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until it starts to smoke.  Season the scallops with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Sauté the scallops on very high heat, very quickly.  Remove the scallops to a large bowl.  Add the tangerine segments, watercress, and onion.  In a separate bowl combine the tangerine zest, tangerine juice, agave syrup, Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in the 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until incorporated.  Drizzle over the salad and serve. 

            *Blue agave is the plant from which tequila is made.  Whadda ya know.  Tequila’s a vegetable too!  In addition to being sweet, blue agave syrup is quite tasty.  If you can’t find it in your local supermarket substitute sugar in the dressing or omit the sweetener altogether if you prefer.

           

GARBANZO BEAN SALAD

 

2 cans garbanzo beans, (chick peas), drained and rinsed.

Half of a green bell pepper, diced

Half of a red bell pepper, diced

½ cup diced black olives

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 small red onion, diced

2 plum tomatoes, diced

Cucumber-Yogurt dressing, as needed (recipe below)

 

CUCUMBER-YOGURT DRESSING

 

1 pint plain yogurt

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon, (more or less to taste)

Small to medium batch of mint leaves, chopped

(Or try cilantro or a cilantro/mint combination)

Half teaspoon cumin

Half teaspoon coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

 

            Combine the above ingredients and dress the garbanzo bean salad.  For a thicker sauce, place the yogurt in a colander on top of another pan and allow it to drain in the fridge for an hour or two.  Similarly, after chopping the cucumber, press the excess water out in a fine mesh sieve.  Other optional flavor enhancers include finely chopped onion or garlic.

 

LOBSTER & AVOCADO SALAD

 

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

1 lb. cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped

2 shallots, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Old Bay Seasoning®, to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaise

2 teaspoons horseradish

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced

1 mango, peeled and diced

½ cup fresh, cooked corn kernels

One handful chopped cilantro

1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

 

            Whisk the melted butter and one tablespoon of the lemon juice.  In a bowl mix the lobster pieces with the butter/lemon mixture and one of the chopped shallots.  Add salt and pepper.  Lightly sprinkle with the Old Bay Seasoning®.  (There’s salt in the Old Bay® so consider this when adding the regular salt).  In another bowl whisk the oil or mayonnaise with the horseradish, remaining one tablespoon of lemon juice, and the lemon zest.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  If it needs more zing, add a little more horseradish or lemon.  If too sharp, add additional oil or mayonnaise.  Spoon into martini glasses and serve. 

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