Easy Salad for a Fun Day

Right about now, you are probably thinking about where you are going to spend your Easter weekend. Most of us will load up the family automobile, and head to a picnic to enjoy sunshine, fresh air, and maybe a glass or two of good cheer with family and friends. Of course, you know, you can’t go empty handed.

Picking up a prepared food at the grocery store is an option. However, you never are quite sure how long those neat little packages have been sitting on the shelf. And honestly, is this going to be yet another year when weird Uncle Donny is the only thing fresh at the party? Let’s hope not.

Make Yourself the Chef

Creating your own signature salad starts with a few simple ingredients, such as a wholesome gluten-free grain like quinoa, or a crowd pleaser such as pasta made from durham wheat. Add balancing amounts of sweet, savory, buttery, sour and spicy, and you will have a bowlful of a dish they will be clamoring for at 4th of July.

Here are three very different salads that can be made the day before, and can hold for an hour or two unrefrigerated, if need be. All of them are inexpensive, and can easily serve 12.

The only thing similar about these salads is the dressing. Once you remember that 2/3 cup olive oil and 1 /3 cup vinegar makes perfect vinaigrette, you can riff with different spices, flavorings and herbs for infinite recipes of salad dressings.

Let Your Recipe be the Talk of the Party

Roasted meats, barbecue, hot dogs and hamburgers pair well with all of these salads. And even if you don’t attend a large gathering, these recipes are certainly enough to share with other party-goers to take a plate home with them.

Enjoying a scrumptious picnic in the garden is a great memory for daydreaming once we get back into our workweek.  Who knows? A delicious salad might even get weird Uncle Donny to behave, for a truly delightful day.

 

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Haricot Vert, Piquillo Peppers and Feta Cheese Salad

Haricot Vert Piquillo Peppers Feta Cheese Salad
  • Author: Melissa Guerra
  • Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

**

2 lbs haricot vert (fresh French green beans), cut into 2” lengths

4 oz jar piquillo peppers or pimentoes, sliced

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Heat 1 quart of water in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a roiling boil, and add the haricot vert. Blanch the haricot vert for 2 minutes, the remove from the heat and drain the water by pouring everything into a colander in the sink. Rinse the haricot vert with cold water, until all are cool to the touch.

Place the haricot vert in a large mixing bowl. Add the piquillo peppers or pimentos, and pour over the salad dressing. Toss to combine well. Garnish with feta cheese before serving. (If you are traveling to another destination with this salad, you may want to add the dressing once you are ready to serve, to preserve salad’s texture.)

 

 

Pasta, Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Salad

Pasta, Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Salad

 

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Fresh Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Salad With Broccoli and Sundried Tomato Dressing

Pasta, Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Salad
  • Author: Melissa Guerra
  • Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

2 oz. sundried tomatoes

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

**

1 lb. of your favorite bit sized pasta (we used imported ditalini shaped pasta)

½ lb. ham, cubed

½ lb. of your favorite cheese, cubed (we used Jarlsburg swiss)

1 cup chopped broccoli

½ small onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

Instructions

Fill a 1 qt saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add the sundried tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft. Remove from heat and then drain the water. Chop the tomatoes finely. Whisk together the remaining dressing ingredients, and then add the chopped tomatoes. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water though a colander, and then rinse with cold water to cool pasta completely. Shake out any excess water.

Place the cooled, cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine well. Add the dressing, and toss again. (If you are traveling to another destination with this salad, you may want to add the dressing once you are ready to serve, to preserve salad’s texture.)

Quinoa Edamame, Cashews and Grape Salad

Quinoa Edamame, Cashews and Grape Salad

 

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Quinoa, Edamame, Cashew and Grape Salad

Quinoa Edamame, Cashews and Grape Salad
  • Author: Melissa Guerra
  • Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

3 cups uncooked quinoa

½ small onion, sliced thinly

2 green onions, chopped

2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

½ cup unsalted cashews, chopped

¾ cup red grapes, sliced in half

**

Dressing:

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, preferably the unfiltered type

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Once it is cooked, remove from heat, and spread hot quinoa in a large baking tray for quick and complete cooling. Once the quinoa is completely cooled, place in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions, parsley, cashews and grapes.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients, and pour over the quinoa. Toss to combine well. (If you are traveling to another destination with this salad, you may want to add the dressing once you are ready to serve, to preserve salad’s texture.)

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