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Main-Dish Summer Salads


July 22, 2011

Patricia Wells shares a trio of summer salads that shine in the main course role!

By: Monica Storch, Managing Editor of Macaroni Kid EATS!
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Patricia Wells, "Salad As A Meal"

On those hot summer days when you just don't feel like firing up your oven, a salad makes a perfect main course alternative.  And with the bountiful crop of fresh fruits and vegetables available in the summer months, there really are so many fantastic salad combinations from which to choose.  If you need some salad inspiration, look no further than Salad As A Meal: Healthy Main Dish Salads for Every Season, the new cookbook from Culinary legend Patricia Wells.  Salad As A Meal is not only beautifully illustrated, it's also chock-full of simple and delectable recipes for salads, soups, breads and accompaniments.  Patricia Wells generously has agreed to share a few recipes from the book with Macaroni Kid, and I couldn't be happier!  The recipes that follow all showcase some of summer's most outstanding ingredients and all use the same Yogurt & Lemon Dressing, so you can make a big batch of dressing over the weekend and try out these recipes all week long.  Enjoy!

Special thanks to Patricia Wells for sharing these recipes, all of which are taken from Salad As a Meal: Healthy Main Dish Salads for Every Season.

Corn, Bacon, Feta, Tomato & Avocado Salad
4 Servings

Ingredients:
2 1/2 ounces smoked bacon, rind removed, cut into 1/4" cubes (3/4 cup)
2 ears fresh corn, shucked
4 ripe multicolored heirloom tomatoes, cored, quartered & chopped
2 ounces imported Greek feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled & cubed
2 small spring onions or scallions, white part only, trimmed, peeled & cut into thin rings
Yogurt & Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1.  In a large, dry skillet, brown the bacon over moderate heat until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to absorb the fat.  Blot the top of the bacon with paper towels as well.
2.  Cut off the fat ends of the ears of corn, stand the ears on the flat end, and use a chef's knife to cut off the corn kernels.  Place the kernels in a large bowl.
3.  Add the tomatoes, bacon, feta, avocado and spring onions to the corn.  Toss with just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly and evenly.  Season generously with pepper and serve.

Cantaloupe, Tomato, Goat Cheese, Cucumber & Onion Salad
4 Servings

Ingredients:
1 small, ripe cantaloupe melon, halved, seeded, cut into small wedges, and rind removed
2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
4 ounces firm goat's milk cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
1 small cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 small spring onions or scallions, white part only, trimmed, peeled and cut into thin rings
Yogurt & Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
In a large shallow bowl, combine the melon, tomatoes, goat cheese, cucumber and onions.  Toss with just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly and evenly.  Shower with the herbs and season generously with pepper.  Serve.

Crab, Avocado & Quinoa Salad with Technicolor Tomatoes
6 Servings

Ingredients:
3 cups water, homemade chicken stock or homemade vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 pound (2 cups) fresh cooked lump crabmeat
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cubed
Yogurt & Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
2 cups mixed red, yellow and green cherry or pear tomatoes, halved

Directions:
1.  In a large saucepan, bring the water or stock to a boil over high heat.  Add the salt, quinoa and bay leaves.  Bring back to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and translucent, about 15 minutes.  (When quinoa is perfectly tender, each grain bursts, sporting a tiny white sprout).  Drain any remaining liquid and return the quinoa to the pan.  Cover the pan with a clean dish towel, replace the lid, and let it sit, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Fluff.  Let cool. 
2.  Place the cooled quinoa in a large, shallow bowl.  Add the crabmeat, tarragon, mint and avocado.  Toss with just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly and evenly.  In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with just enough dressing to coat them lightly and evenly as well.
3.  Mound the quinoa salad on the plates.  (Alternatively, place a 4-inch mold at one edge of each plate and spoon a portion of the salad into the mold, pressing down lightly.  Remove the mold.)  Arrange the tomatoes alongside the quinoa salad, and serve.

Yogurt & Lemon Dressing
Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt (recipe follows) or fine sea salt

Directions:
In a small jar with a lid, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and salt.  Cover with the lid and shake to blend.  Taste for seasoning.  The dressing can be used immediately.  (Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Shake to blend again before using.)

Lemon Zest Salt
Makes 2 Tablespoons

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, preferably organic
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

Directions:
Combine the lemon zest and salt in a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder.  Transfer to a small jar and close with a lid.  (Store, sealed in the jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  After that, the lemon flavor will begin to fade)