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Summer Salads

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 June 2018 at 10:46

Summer is salad time, right? Everyone knows that. But what, exactly, is a salad? That’s not so easy to answer.

There is a classical definition, to wit: A cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing, and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients.

Webster’s defines it slightly differently: A mixture of small pieces of raw or cooked food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, eggs, or vegetables, combined usually with a dressing and served cold.

That’s certainly nearer the mark of what we think of as salads. But, in practical terms, there’s a broader definition. For instance, we have warm salads, which get left out of all the definitions. Many salads, too, are served at room temperature, rather than chilled. And there are salads in which one ingredient predominates, such as Tabbouleh. Usually translated as “parsley salad,” Tabbouleh is, at base, merely a bowl of flavored parsley. Then there is the whole range of grain-based dishes, which carry their own names. For instance, is there really any difference between a salad and a pilaf?


I got to thinking about all this as I prepared my own take on Rachel Ray’s Red Radish Salad. Maybe that explains why I get headaches

At any rate, here’s her recipe:

RED RADISH SALAD

2 tsp sugar
1 lemon, juiced
½ cup sour cream
8 radishes, thinly sliced
2 Delicious apples, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
½ European cuke, thinly sliced
2 tbls fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine sugar, lemon juice and sour cream in a medium bowl with a fork. Add radishes, apple and cucumber

Turn vegetables and fruit in dressing to coat. Season with dill, salt and pepper. Toss again.

Salads, of course, can be adapted and changed to suit one’s tastes. As a result, many times, salad recipes are given without specific amounts. This is the case, for instance, with the unique

KENTUCKY WILTED LETTUCE SALAD

Cut lettuce in half-inch strips. Put in a serving bowl. Scatter sliced green onions over the lettuce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sear bacon in a skillet. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Set aside.

Pour the hot bacon grease over the lettuce. After it produces its wilting effect, sprinkle with vinegar diluted with water to desired strength.

Salads made with fruit are particularly welcome in the summer. One of our favorites is

ORANGE &RED ONION SALAD

For the dressing:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbls fresh lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 large can Mandarin orange slices or six fresh oranges, segmented, reserving some juice
1 head red leaf lettuce
2 red onions, sliced
¾ cup Kalamata olives, halved

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt. Season with pepper

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Alternate orange and onion slices on top of the lettuce. Garnish with olives.

Whisk 1 tablespoon reserved orange juice into the dressing. Pour over salad.

Oranges seem to be a natural addition to salads, and are used worldwide for that purpose. Here is another example:

TUNISIAN ORANGE & MINT SALAD

6 blood oranges or tangerines, peeled, pith removed
2-3 tsp orange blossom water
2 tbls orange peel, cut in matchsticks
2 tbls superfine sugar
¾ cup water (approx)
Leaves from a bunch of mint, chiffonaded or shredded
3 ½ oz blanched almonds, sliced, for garnish

Slice the peeled oranges thinly, removing any seeds, or cut in supremes. Arrange in a glass bowl and sprinkle with orange-blossom water.

In a small saucepan, mix the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the oranges and decorate with the almonds. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

In the middle of the last century, arranged salads were all the rage. With those, the ingredients were kept separate, arranged decoratively in piles or stacks. We incorrectly call modern takes on that approach “deconstructed.” Whatever they’re called, they are great first courses. Here’s one I adapted from a local restaurant. It’s a bit complex to make, but the results are worth the effort:

COUNTRY HAM SALAD ON FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

Fried green tomatoes (use your favorite recipe)
Tomato jam for garnish
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
Splash buttermilk
3-4 oz good country ham, diced very small
2 scallions, whites and green parts, sliced thin
¼ cup thawed frozen green peas
1 tsp whole grain mustard
Pepper to taste

Mix the cream cheese, ham and scallions until well blended. Thin with a splash of buttermilk if needed. Stir in the peas, mustard and black pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Prepare the fried green tomatoes, allowing 3-4 slices per serving, depending on size.

On a serving plate, paint an arc of tomato jam. Arrange the tomatoes, overlapping them slightly, so they follow the curve of the jam. Top each tomato slice with a dollop of the ham salad.

Some of the most fun salads consist of something stuffed into something else. With the following, I like to use tiny sweet bells, in assorted sizes, which can be picked up with the fingers and eaten in just a bite or two:

PEPPERS STUFFED WITH CHICKEN & GORGONZOLA

2 lg chicken breasts, poached & diced
1 cup red onion, sliced & caramelized
½ sweet red pepper, chopped fine
2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
¼ cup mayo
Salt & black pepper to taste
18 small peppers
Paprika

Combine the first 7 ingredients.

Cut the caps off the peppers, at the shoulder line. Remove seeds and ribs. Fill with chicken mixture. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Top with caps if desired.

Very often, salads spreads or mashes than anything else. The ubiquitous tuna salad is typical of these---although I prefer mackerel to tuna. But there are numerous other ingredients than lend themselves to this approach, such as:

MOROCCAN EGGPLANT SALAD

2 lg eggplants, pricked with a fork
½ tsp salt
2 mashed garlic cloves
2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls cilantro, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp paprika

Roast eggplants over flame: Skewer each on a long-pronged fork, hold 1-2 inches over a gas e or wood flame, turning to roast on all sides. Skin should be dark and slightly brittle, but not black.

Broil eggplants: Pre-heat broiler with the rack 5 inches from heat, place eggplants on a baking sheet, and broil until tender, 15-20 minutes, until outer skin is charred.

Peel eggplants and drain pulp in colander. Mash the pulp with a fork, adding the garlic and cilantro, then the paprika and salt. Mix thoroughly.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the eggplant mixture and sauté over med-high heat until oil is absorbed. Remove from heat.

When mixture cools, put in a serving dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve at room temperature.

Obviously these few barely scratch the surface of summer salads. I’m hoping others of you will post some of your own favorites, too, and we can build a great data base of them.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 June 2018 at 14:55
Some of those sound delicious! I usually see the "wilted lettuce" one done with spinach.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 June 2018 at 19:30
That's correct, Melissa. Wilted Spinach is a fairly common salad.

Wilted Lettuce is a uniquely Kentucky salad. I've never seen nor heard of it elsewhere, even in other Southern states. It sounds strange, but, once you try it you'll do it again and again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2018 at 17:30
Never knew wilted lettuce was a rarity. I've seen lettuce as commonly as spinach in this dish, so I consulted my general purpose cookbooks:

The old loose-leaf Betty Crocker that Mom gave me about 40 years ago has lettuce. Better Homes and Gardens' New Cook Book (also from Mom 40 years ago) has spinach. Joy of Cooking has spinach. Good Housekeeping has spinach or greens.

Honestly, I much prefer spinach myself. At home we always had leaf lettuce because that grew easily in the garden in our climate. Spinach not so much. Interestingly, Trace likes it better more thoroughly cooked than just wilted, so about half the time when I make it I return the dressed greens to the bacon pan over some heat to finish the salad. When Momma's happy, everybody's happy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 June 2018 at 20:18
Thanks Tom. I was unaware of wilted lettuce anywhere else. The Betty Crocker reference would give credence to the idea it is much broader in scope than I knew.

Ironically, the few (very few, in fact) printed references I've seen identify it as a Kentucky specialty.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 June 2018 at 16:58
That's interesting. None of the cookbooks mentioned any regional affiliations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2018 at 08:38
I've never heard or seen a wilted lettuce salad here on the west coast, but that could be because I'm not looking for it. I'm not a fan of wilted greens, even spinach. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2018 at 15:16
Understandable, Mike.

So, what sorts of salads do you enjoy?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2018 at 09:28
Guess I should have clarified in my post, wilted spinach salads are pretty popular around here, but wilted lettuce I've never seen.

Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Understandable, Mike.
So, what sorts of salads do you enjoy?


That's a tough one for me, as my wife is allergic to most leafy greens. Even a small piece will tear her insides up for hours. So I don't have them a lot.

If I do have one it's probably going to be a basic chef or garden salad. Since we're also talking of salads outside of just the leafy green type, I do enjoy macaroni or pasta salads, but I'm not a fan of potato salad. Cucumber salads are nice too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2018 at 16:39

Absolutely a wonderful thread, Brook.  

I am a grand fan of salads and eat them for lunch every day ..  

My fave lettuces are:  Radicchio and Rocket ( Known as Arugula or Rucola ) ..  I also am a grand fan of Spinach as a base lettuce  and Kress ( Cress ) ..  I use an Oak Leaf Red Curly lettuce too which is a standard here and Escarola as well ..  

My repertoire include: 

Caprese: with Mozzarella di Bufala, tomato, fresh basil,  Italian Evoo and  Modena Black Aged Balsamic Vinegar ..

Niçoise ..  

Radicchio and Anchovies .. 

Antipasti on rare occasion ..  

Tuna Salad .. 

Fennel Salad in a variety of ways .. 

Prawn or Shrimp Salad .. 

Greek Salad ..  

Beetroot with Feta ..  

Fruit Salad which is:  Seasonal Fruit,  Rocket,  Kress, Radicchio, and Goat Cheese ..  

I shall take a detailed look at your récipes and surely shall adapt one !!  Or should I say adopt one !!

Have a wonderful summer ..   


  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 June 2018 at 09:25
One of my favorites is a chickpea salad wrap using Lavash bread


So many variations. One recipe is Apple Walnut. 
Salad made from dried garbanzo beans makes all the difference.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 June 2018 at 16:07
Absolutely gorgeous surely,  Graco Man ..

Truly wonderful photography too ..  

I always use soaked overnight chick peas, and never from a can .. 

I purchase mine in Linen Bags from a sustainable Farmer at the central market ..  

It definitely makes an enormous difference  as there are no chemicals or additives  ..  

Have a lovely summer ..   Thanks for posting ..  



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 August 2018 at 11:16
I plan on roasting a porchetta in the near future; I'll be using the fennel fronds in the porchetta and would like to put the bulb to use as a salad, if possible. Suggestions or ideas would be welcomed; the main dish is of course Italian, but I am willing to go anywhere in southern Europe, the Middle East or North Africa for this salad.

Some parameters:

I am thinking of shredding the fennel, since slices might be too bulky and/or fibrous.

The oranges would likely be plain, old naval oranges...maybe some sort of clementine or other small orange.

We have spinach and some mixed lettuce growing in the garden, so I can use these.

A lot of recipes I've seen for fennel-orange salad include an olive element; I'm willing to try that.

If I do add any nuts, I'd prefer almonds or pecans, but am willing to use walnuts or some other if more "regional."

I have a fairly typical run of herbs and spices, including some fresh herbs in the herb garden.

I'd like to tie it all together with some sort of vinaigrette.

It could be as easy as mixing the above together, but I am very open to suggestions. The way things are going these days, there probably won't be any photos, so presentation is not a very big factor.

Thanks, guys -

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 August 2018 at 15:37
Ron,

Fennel and orange is a great pairing. Rather than grating, the secret is to cut the bulb in paper-thin slices. This requires a very sharp knife or a mandolin. But I have confidence in you.

Here’s one version I’ve been happy with:

FENNEL AND ORANGE SALAD

1head Boston or other soft lettuce in bit-sized pieces (tearing is betting than cutting, btw)
2 med fennel blbs, sliced thinly, crosswise
Salt & pepper
EVOO
1 Navel or Valencia orange, peel and pith removed
16 black olives, pitted and halved

Mix the lettuce with the fennel slices. Add salt & pepper to taste and toss with just enough olive oil to barely coat the greens.

Slice the orange crosswise as thinly as possible. Quarter the slices and lay them over the top of the salad. Sprinkle a little more oil on top.

Decorate the oranges with the olives. Salt & pepper lightly if desired and serve immediately.

If you want to pop it a bit, substitute a vinaigrette for the evoo. One I like that works well with this is a

CUMIN VINAIGRETTE

½ cup olive oil
3 tbls lime juice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste

This amount of cumin merely enhances the other flavors. If you want more of a cumin flavor, increase it to up to a full teaspoon. But I don’t advise it with this salad, as it will dominate.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 August 2018 at 19:36
Have another one of those dishes peculiar to our family: cucumbers and onions in vinegar. Not so unusual you say? What's different is that there's no sugar in it. Perhaps better classified as a quick pickle. The recipe:

Cukes and Onions

About 2 C. peeled and thinly sliced cukes
About 1/2 C. thinly sliced yellow onion
Equal amounts water and vinegar, enough to cover vegies
A good sprinkle course ground black pepper

Chill, toss, and serve.

Kinda gotta like sour stuff, ya know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 August 2018 at 08:32
Excellent, Tom - we've been doing exactly the same thing (without sugar) since I was a kid; only difference is that we "usually" never added onions. My dad liked them; but my mother, not so much.

Brook - that looks like an excellent option, and very similar to one I was interested in when doing a little looking around. I'll keep the note about the cumin in mind. Thanks!

Your note about tearing versus cutting lettuce: my first "real" job was in the kitchen of the Hotel St. Cloud in Cañon City, Colorado, where I was staying with my grandparents the summer I graduated High school. They told me the same thing, and the lesson stuck...but I never understood why that is the case. Is it some interaction between the metal of the knife blade with the lettuce, or some cellular thing that happens with the lettuce when it is cut? Or something else?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 August 2018 at 15:30
Ron: Yes!

Seriously, I don't know why it's better. But torn lettuce seems to retain its crispiness longer. Torn lettuce pieces, too, are different sizes and shapes, which deters them from clumping and sticking together.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 August 2018 at 04:45

Absolutely stunning salad ideas ..   

Especially any salads with fresh fennel and oranges.  I use Sicilian Blood Oranges  when in season from  Sicily ..   

I have tried a few of these Historic  Foodie and they are all amazingly exquisite ..  


Thanks for posting ..   Have a lovely summer ..  Best regards.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 August 2018 at 04:48

Ron,  

I had some organic pecans from Oregon sent to me and a dear friend in Italy who is a Pâtissier .. 

They were amazing ..   

I can get the name of the  Organic Grower if you are interested ..  

And think, it is 21 / 08, and November is only 3 months away -- Pecan Pie  !!  This is what my friend in Milano  did with his Pecans  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 August 2018 at 08:15
Interesting, Margi,

I didn't even know Oregon was known for pecans. I get mine from Georgia, where it's a major cash crop.

Wish I could eat pecan pie. But all that sugar hurt my teeth (when I had them), so I never developed a taste for it. Plus, since I'm watching my carb intake...... Alas!
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