Salads Keep Summer Suppers Simple



The lazy days of summer officially continue until Sept. 23, but with schools in the Rim Country back in session, this week families are returning to hectic fall schedules.

With all the great produce in our markets, to keep one thing simple, stick with salad suppers for a while. Using meat makes a salad a hearty meal, but one that does not weigh you down.

Try this taste of Italy

Italians know the secret of celebrating life and enjoying good food made with the freshest herbs and seasonings. Young and old gather around tiny tables at charming outdoor cafes to sip espressos and watch passersby stroll down centuries-old cobblestone streets. Art and architecture meld Italy's rich heritage with daily life. Vineyards and olive groves dot the landscape and fresh fruit and vegetable stands fill the towns. Italy reminds the rest of the world, and all who visit, that life can be rich, rewarding and relaxed.

Bring Italy into your own kitchen with this simple recipe using fresh-from-the-garden ingredients and Regina Red Wine Vinegar.

Al Fresco Chicken and Penne Salad

1 cup Regina Red Wine Vinegar

1 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons minced red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Italian Essence

1 teaspoon Polaner Chopped Garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

8 ounces penne pasta

5 ounces mixed baby salad greens

1 cup grape tomatoes

2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, red pepper, seasoning, garlic and salt. Place 1/2-cup of the vinaigrette mixture and chicken breasts in a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Grill chicken over medium heat, turning once, about 12-15 minutes total. Slice chicken breasts. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package; drain and toss with additional 1/2 cup vinaigrette mixture. Arrange salad greens on platter, top with pasta and chicken. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette dressing, as desired. Garnish with grape tomatoes and thinly shaved Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.

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Simple salad inspirations

Think outside the refrigerator lettuce crisper.

Convenient, full of flavor, canned bean salads are just the ticket to quick meal solutions. A ready-made bean salad is delicious chilled and served as a quick side dish. The combination of green, wax and kidney beans marinated in a sweet-vinegary dressing will rival homemade -- the four-bean variety features chickpeas, in addition to the other three beans.

Let your imagination inspire new spur-of-the-moment salad combinations. Keep a can of three-bean salad in the pantry or refrigerator and team it with:

  • cubes of cooked ham and mozzarella cheese;
  • red bell pepper strips, sliced cucumber and sliced green onion; or
  • cooked corn, cooked shrimp and chopped red bell pepper.

If you have a day when time is a bit more flexible, try this Savory Bean & Pasta Salad. It makes a great side dish for the family and also as a potluck offering. The colorful medley of prepared bean salad, pasta, grape tomatoes and cubed provolone cheese accented with garlic and oregano takes on an Italian accent. It's as simple as stirring together all of the ingredients and chilling until serving time.

Want more recipes? Receive a free copy of the Simple & Versatile Bean Salads recipe card by sending a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Seneca Foods Fulfillment, 3732 South Main Street, Marion, NY 14505 or visit to order. Get inspired this salad season! It's easier than you ever imagined.

Savory Bean & Pasta Salad

1, 15-ounce can Read 3 Bean Salad, undrained (or similar)

3 cups cooked medium shell or corkscrew pasta

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (all red or a mix of red and yellow)

3/4 cups provolone cheese, in bite-size cubes (3-1/2 ounces)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Stir all ingredients together in large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Alfresco dining -- The perfect time to catch your breath

The comfortable nights of the end of summer in the Rim Country complement a backyard setting and provide the perfect atmosphere to catch your breath after the hectic days that come with the return to school schedules.

Get the most out of an evening meal outside with these helpful tips:

Don't Spoil Your Dinner -- Prepare foods that can withstand several hours outdoors with reliable ingredients such as barbecue sauce, and steer clear of mayonnaise and other perishable foods.

Get the Whole Family Involved -- Create quality family moments by involving everyone in the cooking and preparation. Kids can set the table, relatives can make side dishes and friends can craft icy drinks to ease the heat.

Think Outside the Grill -- Outdoor entertaining doesn't mean that all the cooking needs to happen on the grill. Try incorporating favorite grilling ingredients, such KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce, into conventional, kitchen-made recipes for a flavorful twist.

Plan Ahead -- Cook savory, flavorful recipes that can be served cold and made in advance, like Legendary Chinese Chicken Salad. When your guests arrive you can devote more time enjoying their company instead of on last-minute preparations.

Legendary Chinese Chicken Salad

Preparation time: 25 minutes; cooking time:

45 minutes; serves: 6

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

3/4 cup KC Masterpiece Ginger & Garlic or Honey Teriyaki Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 head iceberg lettuce (or one 10 ounce bag shredded lettuce)

1/2 cup snow or sugar snap peas

1 cup cucumber, diced

1/2 cup carrots, shredded

3 green onions, sliced

1 cup crispy chow mein noodles

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

For easy clean-up, line an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with heavy foil. Place chicken breasts in pan. Mix KC Masterpiece Ginger & Garlic Marinade with soy sauce and pour over chicken; allow to stand at room temperature while oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chicken 45 minutes, basting frequently, or until chicken is cooked through and nicely browned. Pour off juices from pan into a small container; skim all fat that rises to the top and reserve for use as salad dressing. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into chunks. (Chicken and sauce may be prepared in advance to this point; cover and refrigerate until serving time.)

At serving time, arrange lettuce in a large bowl or platter. Scatter snow peas, cucumber, carrots, green onion, chow mein noodles and chicken over lettuce. Spoon reserved dressing over chicken and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

From Family Features

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