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Summer stars in bounty of salads

Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry Salad combines two of summer’s best fruits. (Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry Salad combines two of summer’s best fruits. (Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Summer salads have everything going for them.

They are fresh, packed with flavor and have contrasting textures. Bursting with colors, they are quick to toss together, easily portable and a great team player at any summer cookout, party or reunion.

So savor summer with salads made with vegetables, greens, pasta, grains and fruits.

Vegetable salads

Jicama, Mango, Cucumber and Carrot Slaw: In a bowl,combine thinly sliced strips of jicama (1½ pounds), carrot (2 cups), 1 semi-ripe mango, 1 medium cucumber and 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro. In another bowl, whisk to blend the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon chile powder, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Add dressing to slaw and coat well. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Tomato-Corn Salad: Cook ½ cup shallots (diced), 1 teaspoon jalape ñ o (minced) and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) in 1 tablespoon butter until slightly softened. Add 2 cups of corn kernels; cook for 4 to 5 minutes until corn is crisp-tender.

Remove from heat; add 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix gently.

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios: Whisk 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 4 teaspoons sherry vinegar and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper in large bowl. Add 2 pounds skinned, roasted beets sliced into wedges. Toss to coat.

Add 2 cups baby arugula and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with ½ cup crumbed goat cheese and 2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pistachios.

Green salads

Kale Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts: Whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil until emulsified.

Add 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise) and 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts, and mix with hands. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Just before serving, add 1 cup shaved Parmesan and toss to combine.

Chicken Satay Salad: Coat 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons peanut sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon chile powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Grill about 3 minutes per side. Whisk 5 tablespoons peanut sauce, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, and salt and pepper to taste.

Kale Salad combines the health power of kale and the flavor power of parmesan and pine nuts. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Kale Salad combines the health power of kale and the flavor power of parmesan and pine nuts. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Combine 1 chopped leaf lettuce (torn coarsely), ½ head romaine (torn coarsely), ½ cucumber (cut into matchsticks), 1 medium carrot (cut into matchsticks), 1 red pepper (thinly sliced) and ¾ cup cilantro (chopped). Top salad with chicken, 3 tablespoons peanuts and drizzle dressing.

Spanish Chopped Salad: Blend 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons walnut pieces, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1/3 cup olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt.

Blend until smooth. In large bowl, combine 1 chopped head romaine, 2 cups baby spinach, ¼ red onion (sliced), 1/3 cup walnut pieces, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 small finely diced apple and 1 cup finely diced cucumber. Toss to combine then dress with vinaigrette. Top with 1 cup shaved Manchego cheese.

Add a south-of-the-border touch to tortellini salad with Mexican Tortellini Salad featuring black beans and cojita cheese. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Add a south-of-the-border touch to tortellini salad with Mexican Tortellini Salad featuring black beans and cojita cheese. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Pasta salads

Mexican Tortellini Salad: Blend 1 teaspoon shallot (minced), 1 clove garlic (minced), 1 cup fresh cilantro and juice of 1 large lime. Add in 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place 2 cups of cooked cheese tortellini in large bowl and add half the vinaigrette.

Add ½ cup cooked corn, 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed), 1½ cups halved grape tomatoes and 2 chopped avocados. Toss to combine. Add ½ cup cojita cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Lemon and Dill: Place 1 cup cooked orzo in large bowl. Add ½ cup green onions (thinly sliced), ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, ¼ cup chopped dill and a 19-ounce can chickpeas (drained). Toss gently to combine.

In small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon cold water, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon bottled minced garlic. Drizzle over pasta mixture and toss to coat.

Deconstructed Pesto Salad: Heat 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in skillet over low heat. Add 8 thinly sliced cloves of garlic to pan and cook until golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place 1 pound cooked fusilli with ½ cup reserved cooking water in large bowl and add olive oil mixture. Toss well.

Add ½ cup toasted pine nuts and 4 ounces coarsely grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss again. Just before serving, add 2 cups sweet basil leaves cut into ½ – inch-wide chiffonade and toss again.

Minted Summer Couscous with Strawberry and Mint is a super-refreshing take on salad. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Minted Summer Couscous with Strawberry and Mint is a super-refreshing take on salad. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Grain salads

Minted Summer Couscous with Strawberry and Feta: Place 2 teaspoons lime zest and 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 3 limes) in small screw-top jar.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Shake vigorously until dressing is amalgamated.

Place 2½ cups cooked couscous (1 cup dry) in large serving bowl. Add 1½ cups sliced strawberries, ½ cup celery and ½ cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves. Drizzle dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with ½ cup crumbled feta.

Garden Tabbouleh Salad: Whisk together ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon chile powder and ¼ cup lemon juice until creamy. Pour 1 cup hot water over ¾ cup bulgur and let sit for 30 minutes until water is absorbed.

Mix together 2 cups parsley (cut chiffonade), 1 cup diced tomato, ½ cup cucumber, 4 finely diced green onions and 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Add bulgur and mix. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss to coat.

Dried Cherry and Brown Rice Salad: In large bowl, mix 1 cup cooked brown rice, 2 cups canned lentils (rinsed and drained), 2 cloves garlic (minced), ½ red onion (diced), ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves, ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ cup dried cherries (softened in hot water). Refrigerate for 20 minutes, then serve.

Quinoa Salad with Oranges and Dates: Place 6 cups cooked quinoa (2 cups dry) in large serving bowl. Add 2 cups chopped orange segments and ½ cup chopped pitted dates. Stir to separate any chunks.

In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Gradually beat in ¼ cup olive oil, then stir in ¼ cup chopped parsley. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with ¼ cup toasted pistachios.

Fruit salads

Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry Salad: Mix 2½ cups watermelon (cubed) and 1 cup blueberries in a bowl. In a cup, mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons honey; pour over fruits. Add ¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves. Top with ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese. Mix gently. Chill before serving.

Strawberry Salad: Stir together 3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 3 tablespoons orange juice with pulp. Chill for 20 minutes. In large bowl, toss together 1½ cups hulled and halved strawberries, ¾ cup halved seedless grapes, ¼ cup torn mint leaves and 4 to 6 cups baby spinach. Drizzle dressing on top before serving.

Sources: “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen; “Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking” by Annie and Dan Shannon; “Simply Ancient Grains” by Maria Speck; “Rosewater & Orange Blossoms” by Maureen Abood; “The Big Book of Sides” by Rick Rodgers; “Seven Spoons” by Tara O’Brady; “Southern Living Ultimate Book of Barbecue”; Food Network Magazine; smittenkitchen.com; cookinglight.com; and twopeasandtheirpod.com.

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