The Chef’s Table: Summer Salads

Salads are colorful, light and refreshing and are a wonderful choice for summer meals. They can be served either as a main or a side dish.

 

Asian Cabbage Salad

10 servings as an appetizer

14-16 servings as a side dish

 

This salad is nutritious and tasty, a perfect accompaniment to grilled meat or poultry. Because of the large quantity this recipe yields, you may wish to cut it in half, or serve it at a large buffet. The salad remains crisp and delicious even after a few days of refrigeration.

 

1 1/2 pounds savoy cabbage (or half of a whole cabbage), cored, thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds red cabbage (or half of a whole cabbage), cored, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, julienne

1 red bell pepper, de-seeded, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, de-seeded, thinly sliced

6 scallions, including green part, thinly sliced

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Dressing:

4-5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (2 limes, approximately)

1 tablespoon Kikkoman Lite soy sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh gingerroot

1 small red chili, de-seeded, finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 tablespoons olive oil

 

Put all of the ingredients (including salt and pepper) into a large bowl. Put all of the dressing ingredients into a screw-top jar and shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

 

Roasted Bell Peppers

8 servings as an appetizer

6 servings as a side dish

 

For this recipe, removing the skin from the bell peppers is worth the effort. The sweetness of the peppers melds beautifully with honey and balsamic vinegar. They will keep well refrigerated for a few days.

 

8 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, de-seeded, quartered

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt, approximately

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

 

Preheat the broiler. Line the rack of a broiling pan with foil.

Place peppers, skin side up, on broiler, and broil close to the heat source until skin is almost blackened (about 7 minutes), then place in a plastic bag to cool. Remove the skin, and place the peppers into a bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil, add garlic, and cook over low heat until garlic is golden. Pour this mixture over the peppers, adding vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Mix well, and season to taste. Before serving, sprinkle with parsley and pine nuts.

 

Chickpea and Feta Salad

10 servings as an appetizer

8 servings as a main course

 

This is a lovely summer salad when fresh herbs are readily available.

 

1 pound chickpeas, (garbanzo beans), canned or dried (see note)

2 red chilies, de-seeded, finely chopped

2 Kirby cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded and diced

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes

 

Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

5-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

Rind of one lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Make the dressing, combine well, and set aside.

Combine chickpeas, chilies, cucumbers, onion, mint and cilantro in a bowl. Before serving, toss with dressing, and season to taste. Either plate the salad topped with feta cheese, or serve in a bowl topped with feta cheese.

 

Note:

If you are using canned chickpeas, drain them.

If you are using dried chickpeas, place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight, then drain. In a large saucepan, place the drained beans with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and cook the beans, partially covered, for 1 hour or until tender.

You can pour the dressing into a screw-top jar as it is easier to combine the ingredients this way. Shake well, and dress the salad just before serving it. Pitted olives, thinly sliced, can be added to the salad.

 

Cannellini Bean Salad

10 servings as an appetizer

6 servings as a main course

 

This salad is remarkably tasty when canned cannellini are used, and even more luscious if you use dried beans. A sofrito of garlic, onion and rosemary is the secret to this salad’s depth of flavor. The roasted tomatoes and Parmesan cheese further enhance the taste. You can also add tuna to the salad.

 

1 pound cannellini beans, canned, or dried (see note)

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, approximately

2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 450°. Place cherry tomato halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Salt and pepper lightly, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and roast for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, garlic, red onion and rosemary. Cook over low heat for about 4 minutes, or until soft. Add cannellini beans and vinegar. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.

Either pre-plate the salad with tomatoes and garnish with cheese on top, or place the salad into a bowl and do the same.

 

Note:

If using canned cannellini, make sure to drain it. If using dried cannellini, place them into a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight, then drain. Place the drained beans into a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat, and cook the beans, partially covered, for 1 hour, or until tender.

 

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

6 servings

 

One of my favorites, this nutritious salad is easy to prepare and its ingredients are easily available.

 

1 cup French lentils

2 cups water

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 cup couscous

2 cloves garlic, minced, and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 scallions, including green part, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, approximately

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes

Baby arugula, or any other greens, optional

Cherry tomatoes, optional

 

Place the lentils and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan with a cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the beans are tender. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same or another saucepan with a cover, bring another cup of water to a boil, sprinkle the couscous into it, lower the heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for another 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt, and fluff with a fork.

Add the couscous to the lentils along with the garlic paste and scallions. Season well with vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss gently with feta cheese.

 

To Serve:

Pre-plate the lentils surrounded with dressed arugula, or any other greens, and tomatoes, if you like.

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This article was featured in the Summer 2006 issue of Jewish Action.
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