Easy Summer Salads

Every summer I get stuck on a few favorite salads.  They become my go-to for picnics, reunions and backyard entertaining.  Although I have a passion for developing new recipes, I don’t always have the time to experiment when the calendar starts to fill up.  Having a few side dishes I can rely on that can be made with ingredients I already have in the refrigerator, garden or pantry makes meal prep a breeze.  I purposely make more salads than I need when I am at home because all but the watermelon salad keep for a few days.  Leftovers are my best friend in the summer!SummerSaladsLR

My top pics for 2014 are Corn & Black Bean Salad, Marinated Tomatoes, Watermelon & Feta and Sauerkraut Salad.  “No Kale Salad?” you may ask? Don’t worry, it is almost always there, a few of my favorite recipes have already been blogged, Kale Salads.SSCornLR

Corn & Black Bean Salad
Inspiration for this came from one of my favorite food memoirs – We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, written by two women I have been blessed to to meet in person, Rachel & Becky.  This version is super easy to toss together and can be used as a chip dip or as a side salad.

  • 2 ears corn, cooked (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups fresh pico de gallo
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Corn can be cooked and removed from the cob the night before (usually I make this salad because there are a few cobs of corn left over.)  If you need a quick way to cook the corn, in the husk, simply cut off the large end of the corn and microwave 2 ears for 4 minutes.  Corn will slip right out of the husk, leaving a silk-free cob.

In a large mixing bowl, gently toss all ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste.SSTomatoLR

Marinated Tomatoes
One of my close friends that lives in the Middle East always has something new for me to try.  Whether it is an exotic date or a new version of  zaatar, everything is delicious.  This summer however, my favorite new taste was a tomato salad recipe that was a favorite of her moms.  So simple but so delicious!

  • 6 tomatoes, sliced in wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except tomatoes.  Add tomatoes and gently combine.  Marinate 12-24 hours, stirring a few times to be sure all tomatoes are coated.  I have found this to be good even if tomatoes only marinate a few hours.  The more ripe the tomatoes are, the less time they need in the marinade.SSWatermelonLR

Watermelon & Feta Salad
This one is just a few steps beyond serving plain watermelon as a side.  The sweet, salty and tangy combo may not be for everyone and this is one salad that needs to be eaten right away.  Therefore, I will usually make a smaller bowl of this and serve it alongside a bowl of cubed watermelon.

There is no real measuring involved in this as I just sprinkle a chiffonade of mint leaves (thinly sliced) over a bowl of watermelon, sprinkle feta cheese and a tablespoon or so of rice or white wine vinegar and some fresh ground black pepper.  Add blueberries or raspberries if desired for additional color and texture.SSSaeurkrautLR

Sauerkraut Salad
Super easy, travels well, and can be made days ahead, the inspiration for this recipe came from the back of the sauerkraut package.  It goes great with brats and baked beans.

  • 1 32-ounce bag of sauerkraut
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced green pepper (any bell peppers can be used)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup rice, cider or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Drain sauerkraut in a colander.  In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients.  Let sit 5-10 minutes.  Add drained sauerkraut and stir well.  Marinate 3-12 hours to allow flavors to develop.

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