Cookout season is in full swing. And with it, cold salads, a personal favorite. There are so many varieties out there, from coleslaw, to macaroni, to cold bean salads I thought it would be a good place to start the summer cookout season.
The featured recipe tonight is from a neighborhood cookout we had last week. I was very busy, so I had to throw together something quick. I went with a basic macaroni salad, but with a few tricks to keep it fresh and flavorful, instead of soggy and bland as some can be.
Before that, here are a few other cold salads:
JeffreyW has a traditional coleslaw recipe (and slideshow) here.
I’ve made a Caribbean Orange-Mango Coleslaw for several summer cookouts. Recipe here.
I adapted a Giada De Laurentiis, recipe for Italian Lentil Salad here.
That’s just a start. I’ll probably follow-up in a while with some veggie cold salads. But until then, what’s on your summer plate this weekend? What are some of your favorite cold salads? What’s your go-to dish when you’re invited to a cookout? Hit the comments and share your ideas.
And finally, the featured recipe (pictured above).
Quick and Easy Macaroni Salad
- 1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
Blend together well and refrigerate until ready to mix in.
- 16 oz box favorite pasta
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1 tsp crushed dried basil
- Salt and pepper
- 8 oz shredded carrots
- 1 celery stalk, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 oz cubed mild cheese (I used a marbled colby/jack)
Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and pasta. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, spices, celery seed, and let sit for 5 minutes. As the pasta absorbs the remaining water, it absorbs all the flavors. Next stir in carrots, celery, cheese and tomatoes. Save tossing with the dressing until 5-10 minutes before serving. This keeps the pasta from absorbing all of it and becoming mushy and flavorless, but still gives it enough time to meld the flavors together.
It’s cloudy and rainy today and that put Mrs J into a soup mood. I started chicken simmering with onions and then ransacked the cupboards for egg noodles and came up short. I suggested the mung bean noodles I have stashed away but she refused them in favor of a run to town for “proper” noodles. While she was gone I went ahead and fixed a bowl using them. These are often called cellophane noodles and are huge in Asian cuisines. I have garnished this bowl with fresh chilies and red onions. There are a few shiitake mushroom slices in there, a splash of soy sauce, and a few drops of hot sesame oil along with the carrots and celery.
It’s a cool, rainy Saturday and we weren’t going anywhere today. Mrs J called for soup and mentioned beans but they really need to soak overnight so I mentioned another of Mrs J’s faves: Cheesy potato soup. I got the chicken broth going with a chopped onion and some of those cured ham pieces. I like to get the ham chunks falling apart done before I add any veggies so I had a little time to surf recipes to look for seasoning tips. I found this recipe atop the results page and gave it a quick study. With some modifications I followed it. Three potatoes were chopped and added to the broth. I had some bacon frying for garnish so the fat part of a roux was ready. I removed the bacon to drain on a paper towel and added a little butter to it, then cooked the carrots and celery, adding the flour when they were tender and let the roux cook a few minutes, then added white wine to mobilize it, dumping the veggie mixture into the main pot with the potatoes. After all the veggies were tender they got a quick buzz with a stick blender.
We both gave it a taste at this point and found it to be very good. I questioned Mrs J as to the need for cheese and cream but she refused to consider it without. Fine by me! I added six ounces of smoked provolone and stirred it to melt, then hit it with a scant cup of heavy cream. Fabulous! Perfect! Some fresh chives from the garden and the bacon for garnish and a crostini with goat’s milk cheddar made this The Best Potato Soup Evah! LOLGood enough for a second bowl – no time for toasting the garlic bread!
Not that much to this. The shrimp were pre cooked and just needed warming. I cooked the onions and broccoli with garlic and ginger and added a sauce that was little more than oyster sauce and chicken stock with a little sesame oil and soy sauce, thickened with corn starch. I plated Mrs J’s dish and then added chili paste for a little heat and extra flavor to my portion. The box the noodles came in said they were Chinese noodles and the box was printed mostly in Chinese characters but as far as I can tell they are just your basic wheat noodles.
This was so tasty prepared from box mixes that I decided to try a scratch build. This recipe looked pretty good so I gave it a try, and was ready to make a batch of white rice when I noticed a bag of “Mexican” rice in the cupboard and made the dish with it – curious to see just what it was, bought it on a whim from the local grocery. It turned out to be good tasting and pretty. I had the black beans going already and was intending to freeze them in a couple of batches for later but they seemed like a good fit.This was my first go at dried black beans and they turned out very good. I brought them to a boil and then killed the flame, covered the beans, and let them sit for an hour, then drained them and cooked them in enough chicken broth to cover, along with some garlic powder and a sprinkling of mild chili powder, just enough to add the flavor notes. I have two bowls of the leftover beans in the freezer now, to be transferred to plastic freezer bags when they are solid. The method works for pinto beans, too, and are a good substitute for canned beans.
We bought a turkey the other day because the sale price was so good and cooked the bird in the oven, stripped the meat, and made stock with the carcass. Mrs J has been wanting dumplings for a while now and today I put the dish together with simple rolled dumplings.
This is a really good turkey soup even before the dumplings are added. I diced celery, carrots, onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and softened them on the stove top in olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme. These went into the pot with the stock and the already cooked turkey to simmer until the veggies were done. At this point the mixture can sit until you are ready to drop in the dumplings, they only take 5 minutes to cook up. The flour in the dumplings will thicken the broth, but if you want just the turkey vegetable soup sans dumplings you can add a tablespoon of flour to the veggies as you saute them. If you do, add a ladle of broth to the saute pan and stir well to combine with the flour before you dump the lot into the pot.