As the summer heats up, I’m less inclined to cook hot meals. Plus, go to any supermarket and it’s clear that produce is in full bloom. Colorful fruits and vegetables inspire me to whip up delicious and healthful salads.
When you go to Italy in the summer, you can’t believe how luscious the produce is. That’s because much of it is local or grown not far from where it’s consumed. Our own grocery stores are stocking much more local produce. Check out all the delicious produce at your nearby farmers market.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about international dressings and marinades. One was a Garlic/Lemon dressing to go on a Lebanese Fatoush Salad made with pita bread, cucumbers and tomatoes. It’s perfect for a lazy summer lunch. Another recent post featured a Turkish Salad with Herbs and Pomegranate-Sumac Dressing that will expand your ideas for salad greens.
Here’s another salad from the Mediterranean that takes advantage of melon season.
Sardinian Melon and Walnut Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
In Southern Italy, the bounty of Mediterranean fruits often winds up in otherwise savory salads. Why not? You can use cantaloupe, Tuscan melon, Galia melon or even watermelon because they are all at their prime this time of year. If you can find Sugar Kiss melons, you’re in for a real treat. They are larger than a cantaloupe and have ‘netted’ skin. The flesh is cantaloupe color, soft and sweet. These melons are loaded with potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
The walnuts are rich in antioxidants, are a good source of Omega3 fatty acids, may decrease inflammation, and have compounds that may help prevent certain cancers.
For the vinaigrette:
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ Tbs. raspberry or red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the salad:
3 lb. of Sugar Kiss melon cut into 1” cubes
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups baby arugula
¼ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1. For the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl.
2. Add the olive oil slowly and whisk until smooth; salt and pepper to taste.
3. For the salad, combine the melon, arugula, shallots and half the walnuts in a large salad bowl. Toss with the dressing.
4. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts and the Gorgonzola on top.
Cuban Corn, Avocado, Tomato and Jicama Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Corn and tomatoes were discovered in the New World and summer is the time they are at their best. This salad, with its Latin flavors, is the perfect showcase. Buy your produce ingredients at a local farmers market if you can. The taste is magical! The black beans provide protein and fiber while the combination of the tomatoes and the olive oil has cancer-prevention properties. The cilantro, which you see in recipes from all over the world, is a superfood all on its own; high in vitamins and fiber, helps rid the body of toxic metals, protects against cell damage from oxidative stress, and can help regulate blood sugar, among other properties.
1 large avocado, firm but with some give
2 ears of fresh corn
½ medium jicama, peeled
12 mini heirloom cherry tomatoes in various colors, halved
½ can black beans, rinsed
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbs. pepitas (optional)
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbs. fresh lime juice
Dash sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together vigorously. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
1. Put all the ingredients into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, then cut the pulp into ½” chunks.
2. Scrape the kernels off the corn cobs; add to the bowl.
3. Cut the peeled jicama into matchsticks, about ¼”x1 ¼”.
4. Add in the rinsed black beans, the cilantro leaves and the lemon juice; toss well.
5. Pour in the dressing and toss thoroughly.
6. Serve on mixed greens or on top of toasted flat bread.
7. Top with pepitas, if desired.
Sweet/Spicy Soba Rainbow Salad
This recipe features soba noodles, which are made with buckwheat flour and contain 8 grams of protein per serving. The vegetables add lots of vitamins, minerals and make this salad filling and satisfying. Toss in some cooked, shredded chicken breast or cooked shrimp to make it even more substantial.
12 oz. package soba buckwheat noodles
¾ cup peeled, shredded carrots
5 scallions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal, halfway up the green stalk
1 cup baby bok choi, leaves torn
¾ cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup Chinese pea pods or sugar snap peas
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup smooth (natural) peanut butter
¼ cup hot water
1 Tbs. honey
4 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. mirin or seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. hot sauce such as sriracha
3 Tbs. sesame or avocado oil (sesame oil has a distinctive, nutty flavor; avocado oil is more neutral)
1. Cook the soba noodles in salted water according to package directions, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Noodles should be al dente. Set aside.
2. Prepare the dressing in a medium bowl; whisk together the peanut butter, hot water, honey, mirin and soy sauce. Blend in the lime juice, garlic, hot sauce and sesame oil; whisk all to combine thoroughly.
3. In a large bowl, combine the soba noodles, carrots, green onions, baby bok choi, pea pods (or sugar snap peas), red bell pepper, mushrooms and cilantro. Add in the dressing and toss well.
4. Sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds and serve.