Summertime Is Time For Salad Suppers

IN THE KITCHEN

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Salads are good any time, but in the summertime, they just hit a special spot. Two of my favorites are a pseudo Caesar and the garden salad mix they serve at Pizza Hut, using the salad bar's creamy Italian dressing topped with bacon bits and sunflower seeds.

Pseudo Caesar Salad

Romaine lettuce

Sliced mushrooms

Bacon bits (the real stuff)

Parmesan and/or garlic croutons

Commercial creamy Caesar dressing

Separate the lettuce leaves, wash well, pat dry and tear by hand into pieces small enough to be handled easily with a fork. Add mushrooms and bacon bits and toss.

Serve with dressing topped with croutons.

A large serving of this particular salad is enough for a meal.

Here are a few other summer salad supper dishes to try: Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables, Jamaican-style Rice and Pea Salad, Wild Rice and Wild Mushroom Salad and Asian Shredded Chicken and Spinach Salad.

Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables

4 tomatoes, medium to large in size, diced

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 1/4 pounds eggplant, peeled and diced

1 1/4 pounds small zucchini, diced

1 pound dried shell of farfalle pasta

4 ounces soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine tomatoes, basil, mint, garlic, broth, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the oil, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Spray a shallow roasting pan with olive oil cooking spray, put diced eggplant and zucchini in pan and lightly coat with cooking spray. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning about every 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and brown, but not mushy.

While the vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta 9 to 12 minutes in salted, boiling water until tender but not soft. Drain and rinse to cool.

Put pasta in serving dish and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Mix vegetables and tomato combination and let cool to room temperature.

To serve, put pasta and vegetables together, toss and top with crumbled goat cheese and toss again.

Jamaican-style Rice and Bean Salad

2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice

2 cups "light" coconut milk

2 cups water

(2) 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 scallions, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1 fresh hot green pepper, diced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Wash rice until water runs clear, combine with coconut milk and water in saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Fluff rice and set aside to cool.

Once the rice is cooled, put in serving dish, add all ingredients except the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature immediately after adding the remaining ingredients.

Wild Rice and Wild Mushroom Salad

1 cup uncooked brown rice

1/3 cup uncooked wild rice

1 red bell pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1 pound wild mushrooms, sliced (can be chanterelles, morels, shiitakes, oyster or cépes)

Salt and pepper

1 leek, quartered and sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Juice of 1 to 2 lemons

Cook rice, and set aside. With the brown rice you will get about 3 cups, the wild rice will yield about 1 cup.

Roast pepper under broiler, turning, until evenly charred. Put in paper bag, seal and put in freezer for 10 minutes, this will loosen the skin. Once the skin is loose, peel the pepper, remove seeds and chop. Put in serving dish and set aside.

Using a nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat, add half of the mushrooms and sauté about 10 minutes until browned. Season with salt and pepper and add to red pepper. Brown the remaining mushrooms and add to ingredients in serving dish.

Sauté the leek about 5 minutes or until limp and beginning to brown. Add with all remaining ingredients to serving dish, except for the lemon juice and additional salt and pepper.

To serve, bring to room temperature, toss with lemon juice and salt and pepper. More lemon juice can be added to taste.

Asian Shredded Chicken & Spinach Salad

8 cups torn raw spinach, tough stems removed

4 cups sliced napa cabbage or bok choy

2 cups bean sprouts

1 cup thinly sliced daikon (giant white radish)

1 cup thinly sliced carrot

6 thinly sliced scallions

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2/3 cup light oriental dressing to taste

Combine all ingredients, except dressing and toss. Add dressing and toss again.

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