Enjoy Summer Salad Days

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The only word most of us want to hear these days is a four letter one: cool! That applies to the kitchen as well.

Salads are among the coolest and healthiest choices for dinner when the temperature is pushing the 100-degree mark.

Salads look cool, taste cool, and make us feel cool. What more could you ask of a summertime meal?

Try one of today's recipes and be the coolest cook in the house. Recipes include: Spinach Peach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Tomato, Smoked Chicken and Mozzarella Salad, Grilled Steak Caesar Salad, Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad.

SPINACH PEACH SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

salad:

3 slices bacon, cut up, lb. baby spinach, 3 ripe peaches, sliced

blue cheese dressing:

1/4 c. light mayonnaise, 2 T. whole milk, 2 T. white wine vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper, 1 oz. creamy blue cheese

In skillet cook bacon over medium heat until browned. With slotted spoon transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Place spinach and peaches in large salad bowl. Prepare Blue Cheese Dressing: In small bowl with fork mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Add blue cheese and mash lightly with fork until blended. Toss spinach and peaches with dressing; sprinkle with bacon. Serves 8.

TOMATO-SMOKED CHICKEN MOZZARELLA SALAD

4 med. Tomatoes, 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, 1 lb. chicken breast, smoked, 2 T. fresh chives, snipped, 2 T. extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 c. fresh basil, sliced, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. red wine vinegar, 1/8 tsp. coarse black pepper

Thinly slice three tomatoes. On large platter, arrange overlapping slices of tomatoes in circle around edge of platter. Thinly slice half of mozzarella; cut each slice in half. Tuck sliced mozzarella here and there between tomato slices. Cut remaining tomato and mozzarella into 1/2 inch chunks. In large bowl toss chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and chicken with chives, 2 T. basil, 1 T. olive oil, 1 tsp. vinegar, 1/8 tsp. salt and pinch of pepper. Arrange chicken mixture in center of platter. Drizzle tomato and mozzarella slices with remaining 1 T. oil and 1 tsp. vinegar; sprinkle with remaining salt and pinch of pepper. Top with remaining 2 T. basil. Serves 4.

GRILLED STEAK CAESAR SALAD

3 c. French bread, cubed, 5 T. olive oil, 4 anchovy fillets, drained, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan, 3 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 2 top loin steaks, 10 c. romaine, cut up

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss bread cubes and 1 T. oil. Toast bread on jelly roll pan 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool croutons in pan on wire rack. Prepare dressing: In medium bowl mash anchovies with garlic to form a paste. With wire whisk, mix in Parmesan, lemon juice, Worcestershire, mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Gradually whisk in remaining 4 T. oil until well blended. Preheat ridged grill pan over medium heat until very hot. Place steaks in pan; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cook steaks 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare or until desired doneness, turning steaks over once. Transfer steaks to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes for easier slicing. To serve, thinly slice steaks diagonally against the grain. In large serving bowl toss steak slices with romaine, croutons and dressing. Serves 4.

ROASTED BEET AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD

balsamic vinaigrette:

1 T. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 sm. shallot, chopped fine, 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

salad:

1 bunch lg. beets, 1 T. olive oil, 6 garlic cloves, sliced 1 head radicchio, torn, 1 bunch arugula, torn, 1/2 c. goat cheese, crumbled

Vinaigrette: In small bowl whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil until thick. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Salad: Cut stems from beets, leaving 1 inch of stems intact. Rub beets with oil. Place in roasting pan. Bake in 375-degree oven 75 to 90 minutes or until knife tender. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, trim and peel beets; cut each into 8 wedges. In large bowl, toss with 2 T. vinaigrette. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the sliced garlic; boil for 1 minute. Drain. To serve, in large bowl combine radicchio, arugula and garlic. Add remaining vinaigrette; toss. Arrange beets over greens. Top with cheese. Serves 6.