The Confident Kitchen series
Do you have a favourite ‘go-to’ summer salad? An old stand-by that the neighbourhood pot-luck or picnic would not be the same without? Our family has several favourite Summer Salads.
Part of the attraction of making summer salads (besides using fresh seasonal ingredients) is that many of these salads are great make-ahead dishes. The components can be prepared ahead of time and tossed with the dressing and garnishes just before serving, such as Caesar Salad, Cobb Salad, or Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Salad.
Other types of salads are even better the day after they are prepared because the ingredients are given the opportunity to mellow and marinate. Examples of this type of salad include potato salad, four bean salad, marinated vegetable salad, or bacon lentil salad.
Some salads require only a few minutes to prepare and enjoy, making them ideal candidates for impromptu al fresco summer dining or picnics. For example, try thinly sliced honeydew melon with a tumble of fresh blueberries. It is not only attractive but delicious. Drizzle the slices with a mixture of honey, lime juice and a little lime zest. You are in for a treat. Our ‘go-to’ salad choice is often a tomato feta salad consisting simply of sliced or wedged tomatoes, depending on the variety, diced or crumbled feta cheese, chiffonade of fresh basil, if available, and a drizzle of our favourite Greek vinaigrette dressing. A chicken breast or small steak can be grilled to accompany this salad for a wonderful light dinner in mere minutes. Orange Fennel Salad is a light, refreshing salad (shown above), that suits a multitude of summer menus.
Additionally, other quick favourites are:
- Thinly sliced cucumber and white onion in a light dressing of white wine vinegar, sugar, fresh herbs, vegetable oil, seasoned to taste. It is served very cold
- Melon and grapefruit with a few blueberries scattered in a casual presentation.
- Cubes of watermelon and feta cheese together – you must try it!
Our favourite summer salad is Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Salad. It can be made ahead easily and perfect for a picnic or casual gathering. The ingredients include dried raisins and cranberries, crisp bacon and old cheddar cheese. It is a winning combination that I encourage you to make for your next summer gathering. This recipe is adapted from the Food Network’s celebrity chef, Anna Olson. It is a family recipe from her husband’s mother. It is sure to become a favourite at your summer gatherings.
Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Salad
- 3 cups broccoli florets, cut into tiny pieces
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup grated old Cheddar cheese
- 4 strips crisply cooked bacon, chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins (golden raisins or Thompson)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- salt and pepper
- Blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water for 30 seconds (uncovered). Drain and immediately plunge the broccoli into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well. Chill until needed.
- Toss broccoli and green onion together.
- For the dressing: in a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice
- Stir the dressing into broccoli mixture.
- Add cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, raisins and dried cranberries. Season to taste.
- Chill until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy the next day.
NOTES: If desired, omit the blanching step for the broccoli. Add the raw florets to the salad. It is just as delicious.
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Mae’s Broccoli Cheddar Salad by Anna Olson