Summertime and the Salads are Easy

It’s been really hot here in the Midwest lately.  Our temps have been hotter than recent years with heat indexes reaching into the 100’s.  I don’t necessarily mind hot weather but when the humidity is around 80%, it gets pretty uncomfortable.  That’s when I turn to making refreshing salads for dinners rather than eat hot foods.  Luckily my husband has an appreciation for eating cool salads as well!

I’ve always loved lettuce, so much that when I was young I could easily eat half a head of iceberg lettuce in one sitting! I really think I was a rabbit in another life!  So making salads is something that comes pretty easy, and it’s a lot of fun to create new salads with routine veggies.  Usually I end up taking inspiration from a recipe I’ve seen somewhere to create something new for us to eat.  

Saturday night I made a plant based version of the traditional Panzanella (Bread Salad loaded with bacon).   My recipe contains pasta instead of bread, tomatoes, minced garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar.  I did splurge and top it with some coconut bacon, which was a nice treat.  I love how the simple ingredients give a dish so much great flavor.  Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the dish!

Tonight I took my salad inspiration from something I saw at Trader Joes while grocery shopping.   They had a display of this fun pasta next to artichokes in oil and some of their house brand of Feta dressing.  I tossed the pasta in my basket and my mind started creating while I did the rest of my shopping.  I of course would not use the dressing, nor would I use the oily artichokes; but luckily Trader Joe’s sells artichokes in water so those came home with me.  I also bought Trader Joe’s Lemon greens blend…it has a great blend of greens that are tangy and have a bite (among other things, it contains arugula). 

Artichokes have a unique flavor that doesn’t pair well with everything, so I consulted my Vegetarian Flavor Bible (Karen Page) for ideas.  Lemon juice, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, walnuts and chives are a few items that pair well with artichokes.   I first created a dressing with lemon juice, walnuts, a little white balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, parsley and a touch of agave (salt and pepper).  My immersion blender created a beautiful spring green dressing. I created a masterpiece with my ingredients and we enjoyed a very refreshing and filling dinner.  Whoever says that salads don’t fill them up isn’t putting the right ingredients together.

This is a great book to purchase, especially if you want to go off the grid and not use a standard recipe:

Here’s a photo of the pasta I got from Trader Joe’s:

This is my masterpiece salad:

I also made this Greek Potato Salad to have with lunches this week.  I also modified a dressing recipe that did not include oil…it’s quite yummy.  If you are interested in the recipe send me an email and I’ll send it to you.

This was a quick salad I put together for dinner during the week.  It uses zucchini ‘noodles’ which are very refreshing!  I topped it with some homemade ‘feta’ cheese (made with almonds).