Serve refreshing salads for sides, light meals during August

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Ann Cipperly

A cool salad is ideal for a refreshing side dish with grilled meats or an entrée for light lunches and suppers as summer settles into hot hazy days of August. Chicken or shrimp salad, green salad tossed with cheese and toasted pecans or a salad enhanced with fresh fruits provide delectable dishes for summer family meals.      

Photo by Ann Cipperly Serve a variety of refreshing salads during the hot days of August. For a tasty salad, serve toasted slices of goat cheese with a green salad. This salad is made with assorted lettuces, toasted walnuts and sliced strawberries, then tossed with balsamic vinegar dressing.

Being home for four months has made this feel like a long summer. I am praying for better days for all of us. It has been a time of praying for so many fighting the virus and other health issues, as well as those who are struggling with the loss of their job. 

We are thankful for Sunday School class being on Zoom and for listening to church services online. I always think it is too short, and I don’t want it to end. I have missed Bible studies so much, and the wonderful sweet ladies who give me a lift every week.  

We are still getting groceries curbside. I didn’t realize what a picky shopper I am until I began getting groceries selected by other people.  It was surprising to find someone thought a bag of rotten avocados would be a good choice or a beef roast was a sub for lamb chops.    

I find the biggest challenge in curbside shopping is trying to keep up with all the items we didn’t get.

I have sorted and looked through almost 12 years of “Southern Hospitality” food columns, 15 years of weekly “Southern Gourmet” columns and almost 16 years of food articles in East Alabama Living magazine during these months at home.

Then, I looked through tubs of saved recipes that I want to cook. I am going to have to live a 100 years to try half of them. My family would prefer that I prepare dishes they like instead of always experimenting with something new. 

I am starting this week making salad recipes. I tried toasted goat cheese slices to serve on the side of a green salad. The goat cheese was sliced and then dipped in a beaten egg and rolled in dry breadcrumbs. This can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Before serving, heat olive oil in a skillet and brown each side of the goat cheese. It is really good served warm with a salad or it could be an appetizer.    

Try making your own salad dressings. They can be assembled in just a few minutes and are so much better than purchased dressings with added ingredients with long names.

One of my favorites summer salads is caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and fresh sliced tomatoes with basil, drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar. I sometimes add sliced avocado and serve olive oil on the side. The salad goes together quickly and looks attractive.

Chicken salad is popular anytime but especially on hot days.  It is easy to prepare. Simply boil a whole chicken, chicken breasts or tenders or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. 

Chicken salad has come a long way since our grandmothers mixed up chicken with mayonnaise and pickle relish. Start with chopped chicken and finely minced celery. Then add personal favorites, selecting toasted nuts, dried cranberries, halved grapes, diced apple, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges or chopped boiled eggs.

While high quality mayonnaise is the traditional choice, reduce fat by substituting Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream for a portion of the mayonnaise.  

Serve chicken salad on lettuce with fresh fruit or piled high onto sandwiches with a slice of fresh tomato. For a festive meal, stuff chicken salad in a hollowed tomato or present in pineapple halves.

Until this pandemic is over, many of us will continue to spend more time at home missing our “normal” life. Use the extra time to prepare good meals for your family and linger longer at the dining table, enjoying time together.  

Over the years when life has changed, I have learned that days are better when we are thankful to God for being alive.  It was heartbreaking for our family to hear recently that a cousin has stage four liver cancer and is not expected to live much longer. When I think of him, my complaint list gets short quickly. Although the nightly news is troublesome, there is still much to be thankful for.  

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Toasted Goat Cheese Slices for Salads

  • 1 ¼ cups dry breadcrumbs (adjust to the number of slices)
  • 11 oz. goat cheese log, sliced into 8 rounds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Olive oil

Dip cheese slices into egg and then breadcrumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to toast and serve.

Cover bottom of skillet with olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add slices of goat cheese. Cook on each side until brown.

Serve with green salad or as an appetizer. 

Note: You can adjust this to any amount of slices by using more or less breadcrumbs and beating another egg, if needed.   

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients except for olive oil, whisking well. Slowly add

olive oil while whisking. Store in refrigerator.

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing

Chef Graham Hage

  • ¾ cup whole buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh chopped dill, parsley, chives, thyme
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Combine buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, herbs and apple cider vinegar into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake for about a minute. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Easy Caesar Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender or processor. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Store in refrigerator.

For a Caesar Salad, toss dressing with romaine lettuce and top with Garlic Croutons and additional Parmesan cheese.

Note: Most Caesar dressings have anchovies that this recipe doesn’t use, but it still has the rich flavor.     

Garlic Croutons

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 French bread slices, cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with olive oil in a small saucepan; add garlic.  Place bread cubes on baking sheet; pour oil mixture over bread cubes and toss well. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool.

Store in airtight container.

Poppy Seed Dressing

This recipe goes together quickly and uses honey instead of sugar. 

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise  
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seed

Combine dressing ingredients. Store covered in refrigerator.

Strawberry-Walnut Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Chef David Bancroft

Salad:

  • 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 1½ cups candied walnuts
  • 6 strips crispy bacon
  • 1 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1½ cups sliced strawberries
  • 8 oz. sherry-honey vinaigrette

Sherry-Honey Vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp. white truffle oil
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

Add all ingredients for vinaigrette to mixing bowl and whisk together well before serving (or blend in food processor).

Arrange plates according to desired serving size and portion spinach equally. Portion each salad topping evenly amongst your plates in layers.

Last, make sure vinaigrette is emulsified, and drizzle evenly over salad. Serve immediately and offer fresh cracked pepper!

Serves 4 to 6.

Columbia Restaurant’s Original “1905” Salad

We have enjoyed this salad so many times prepared tableside at one of Florida’s popular Columbia Restaurants.

  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ½ cup thin strips Swiss cheese
  • ½ cup thin strips ham or turkey
  • ¼ cup pitted green Spanish olives
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. grated pecorino Romano cheese

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ham and olives. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, oregano and Worcestershire sauce. Gradually whisk in olive oil, continually beating to form an emulsion. Stir in vinegar and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour dressing over salads and toss well. Add pecorino, toss and serve. Serves 4.

Cornbread Salad with Avocado Dressing

Jean Lenard

  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn, drained (or fresh corn)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 stalks chopped green onions for garnish

Dressing:

  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ jalapeño pepper
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. garlic salt

Combine all dressing ingredients in blender; pulse until cilantro is well blended into the lime juice and avocado. Set aside.

Cook Jiffy cornbread according to box directions. Set aside and let cool. Cut in half and break half of cornbread into small crumbs. Layer crumbled cornbread in bottom of a clear bowl or trifle dish.

Add half of romaine lettuce on top of cornbread.

Next, add half of black beans. On top of beans, add half of corn. Then pile on half of bell peppers.

Following bell peppers, sprinkle half of tomatoes on top.

Toss half of cheddar cheese on top tomato layer. Drizzle half of dressing onto salad.

Repeat layering. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Garnish top with chopped green onions, if desired.   

Serves 8.

Caprese Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Basil

Layer cheese slices and tomatoes on a small platter. Garnish with fresh basil. When ready to serve, drizzle reduced vinegar over top. Can also add a sliced avocado. 

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

Make reduced balsamic vinegar by pouring 1 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and gently simmer until reduced by half. Can add a teaspoon of brown sugar, if desired.

Southern Hospitality Chicken Salad

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ to ¾ finely chopped celery
  • ¾ cup Duke or other quality mayonnaise (adjust less or more according to taste)

Select from these additions: chopped pecans, walnuts or toasted almonds, diced apples, halved red or green grapes, dried cranberries, chopped boiled egg, drained crushed pineapple, sweet or dill pickle relish, finely chopped onion, mandarin oranges 

Season chopped cooked chicken with salt to taste. Mix in celery and then mayonnaise. Select from the additions and stir into chicken mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve on lettuce garnished with fresh fruit or spread on bread, croissant or crescent rolls. Stuff in a hollowed tomato or present in a pineapple halve for a festive luncheon.

Neiman-Marcus’ Curried Chicken Salad

  • 2 ½ cups cooked white meat chicken, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved and seeded
  • 1 ½ cups water chestnuts, sliced (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. green onions, both white and green, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chutney, chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tsp. grated onion
  • 2 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Lettuce and fresh fruits for serving

Sprinkle lemon juice over apples. Mix with chicken chunks, grapes, chestnuts, green onion, parsley and chutney.

Mix together mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, grated onion, curry powder, salt and pepper.

Add dressing to chicken mixture and gently toss. Chill.

When ready to serve, spoon chicken salad over lettuce and garnish with fresh fruits. Serves 4.

Shrimp Salad on Croissants

Mary Ann Swanson

  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, cooked and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 or more Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce or horseradish sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Leaf lettuce
  • 4 croissants, split lengthwise

Combine celery, onion, mayonnaise, chili, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Fold in shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pile shrimp salad on lettuce leaves in croissants.

Fresh Fruit Salad with Fluffy Dressing

  • Leaf lettuce
  • 1 qt. strawberries, halved
  • 1 small pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 12 orange slices
  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 1 cup pecan halves, optional

Fluffy Dressing

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice

To make dressing, combine egg, sugar, lemon peel and juice in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Cool.

Beat cream until stiff. Gently fold in cooked lemon mixture and pineapple juice.  Chill until ready to serve.

Arrange lettuce on individual plates. Divide fruit onto plates. Sprinkle pecans on top. Top with Fluffy Dressing. Makes 6 servings.

Cauliflower and Green Pea Salad

Pat Fox

  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets 
  • 2 cups fresh or defrosted baby sweet peas 
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper 
  • ¼ cup sliced green olives, optional                   
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp. light sour cream
  • ¼ tsp. each salt and white pepper

Chopped chives for garnish or a few green onion tops

Steam cauliflower and peas until barely tender.  Drain well and put into a bowl.

While vegetables are still warm, pour the chicken broth over them; set aside to cool.

Combine celery, onions, parsley, red bell pepper, vinegar and mustard. Mix in sour cream; add salt and pepper.

Toss gently with cauliflower and peas.  Chill several hours or overnight.

Green Bean, Fresh Corn and Basil Salad

  • 2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 ears fresh corn, husked
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup black olive halves, optional

Cook green beans in salted water 3 to 4 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

In same saucepan of boiling water, cook corn 3 minutes; drain and cool. Scrape kernels from ears; add to beans with basil and lemon juice and toss.

In small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad; toss. Top with olives, if desired. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.

Poppy Seed and Grape Chicken Salad

Meri Payne

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1½ cups red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. poppy seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lettuce

Combine chicken, grapes and pecans. In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Fold into chicken mixture. Chill until ready to serve on lettuce.

Grilled Corn Salad

Jenny Jenkins

Can use corn cooked in microwave instead.

Dressing:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • Whisk oil, vinegar and shallot; set aside.

Salad

  • 6 medium ears corn, husked
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups baby lima beans
  • 1 bag baby spinach or arugula
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives

Prepare barbecue grill on medium high.

Brush corn with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill corn until tender and beginning to char in spots, about 10 minutes, turning often. Cool and cut corn from cobs.

Cook lima beans in boiling salted water until tender (4 to 5 minutes). Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Mix lima beans and corn. Add tomatoes and mix in spinach or arugula just before serving.  Add dressing to coat.  Sprinkle with cheese and olives.

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

  • 16 oz. pkg. farfalle pasta
  • ¼ cup or more olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss pasta, olive oil, garlic and basil in bowl. Stir in tomatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Serves 6.

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