Salads are the ultimate summer food. But salad-making always seems to involve a last-minute hassle. That need not be the case, and the following salads prove it.
These are not just little side dishes. Each of these salads is a substantial main course--but not loaded with rich dressing, meats, cheese and calories.
The 10-layer vegetable salad revives the salad sensation of the '70s, reducing the fat without losing the appeal that made it a household classic. The rice salad is refreshing, light and nutty tasting; it's a great way to use up leftovers (although it is equally delicious without meat). The delicious Heartland potato salad with bratwurst defies the fat-laden stereotype of potato salads while delivering memorable flavors.
All of these salads are also perfect for picnics; just pack the green onion dressing separately for the 10-layer salad, keeping it well chilled in an insulated container and spreading it on the salad when your group is ready to eat.
When I made this salad recently, I realized why it was so popular in the '70s. Full of fresh, crunchy vegetables (no reason that cooked shrimp or ham can't be added), the salad can be made in advance with no last-minute hassle. Many other vegetables may be substituted for those listed below. And the salad looks great layered in a glass bowl. But be forewarned: The bowl needs to be at least three-quart capacity if the salad is to be tossed before serving. Also, the glass bowl must be no more than 10 inches in diameter for this amount of ingredients to show at the edges. If you have a food processor, let it do the shredding and slicing.
1 medium head iceberg lettuce, cored and diced 1/2 inch
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 large sweet red pepper, diced 1/3 inch
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Green Onion Dressing
1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon
Layer lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, corn, peas, red pepper, red onion, cheese and Green Onion Dressing in large salad bowl. (Each layer of vegetables and cheese needs to be lightly pressed into place, with edges of each ingredient spread to edge of glass bowl.) Cover salad airtight. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.
At serving time, sprinkle with bacon. To serve, scoop all way down to lettuce to include all of ingredients or toss lightly to mix. Pass extra dressing separately, also salt and pepper grinder. Makes 6 servings.
Green Onion Dressing
1 1/2 cups light mayonnaise
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion tops
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, hot pepper sauce and green onion tops in 1-quart mixing bowl. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated, covered airtight. Makes 6 servings.
Potatoes, bratwurst, beer, peas and carrots combine to make a light, appealing salad. Served warm or at room temperature, the salad is a great meal when partnered with a side of sliced ripe tomatoes showered with fresh herbs, warm crusty bread ... and beer.
HEARTLAND NEW POTATO SALAD WITH BRATWURSTS
16 small new potatoes, scrubbed
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 (4-ounce) pork, veal or turkey bratwursts (fresh or precooked)
2 medium onions, diced 1/2-inch
1 1/3 cups petite frozen peas
1 1/3 cups finely diced carrots
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 large green onions, thinly sliced
Boston lettuce leaves
Place potatoes, salt and tarragon in 3-quart pot. Cover with water. Add fresh bratwursts. Bring to boil. Boil, uncovered, until potatoes are almost tender but still firm. Add onions, peas and carrots. Cook 1 minute longer. Drain in colander.
Cool. Cut potatoes in halves. Split cooked or precooked bratwursts lengthwise, then into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Heat oil in 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced sausages and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Using slotted spoon, transfer to 2-quart mixing bowl.
Add potatoes to skillet, cut side down. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to bowl. Reserve skillet drippings for dressing.
Add sliced green onions and remaining vegetables in colander to potatoes. Toss gently to combine. Arrange lettuce leaves on serving plate. Mound potato salad on top. Makes 4 servings.
Reserved skillet drippings
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons beer (can be leftover)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
To drippings in skillet add cider vinegar, beer, brown sugar, mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper. Stir well. Heat through but do not boil. Pour over salad. Toss gently to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Dressing can be served immediately or refrigerated as long as 1 day. If refrigerated, toss gently to mix ingredients. Adjust seasonings. Can be served at room temperature or warm.