Friday Recipe Exchange: Cold Salads

Pasta Salad final

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.

And here are several pasta salads: Chipolte Macaroni and Cheese Salad with Bacon (here), Greek Pasta Salad (here), and my favorite quick dinner, Pasta Caprese (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

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • pepper

Blend together well and refrigerate until ready to mix in.

Salad:

  • 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.

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Italian Lentil Salad

From FoodNetwork.com

From FoodNetwork.com

Italian Lentil Salad

Adapted from Food Network

Salad:

  • 1 pound green lentils
  • 2 green onions, chopped (including greens)
  • 1 cup halved seedless green grapes
  • 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Crumbled feta

Instead of boiling the lentils and getting watery, mushy lentils, baking them preserves their flavor and texture. First, cover lentils with water and 1 tsp salt. Soak for 1 hour, then drain well. In a large covered casserole dish or oven proof saucepan, add lentils, cover with water, 1/2 tsp of salt, cover and bake at 325 degrees for 40-60 minutes until tender.  Drain and toss with remaining ingredients, except feta and toss with vinaigrette. Refrigerate to chill. Sprinkle with feta just before serving.

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Place the lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste

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Commander in Chef

President Obama gave an interview the other day and the conversation turned to Pakistan and…cooking.

Interviewer: ‘What can you cook?’  

President Obama:  ‘Oh, keema … dal … You name it, I can cook it….’

Sure, but can he make a mean Tortilla Soup?  How about authentic Pasta Sauces?

So, exactly what are Kheema and Dal?  Kheema can be thought of as an Indian Chili.  Ground meat is mixed with traditional Indian spices and other ingredients:  coriander, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, tomatoes, onions.  Variations  include one or more of the following: yogurt, coconut milk,  peas, Serrano chilies.  Dals are dried legumes, such as lentils, peas or beans, seasoned in ways to compliment a main course.   Sometimes they are heavily spiced to be the main course.

A variety of recipes abound for both of these dishes, or head out to the nearest Indian restaurant to sample a broader array of taste treats.  I am no expert on any Indian dishes, but I may have to start testing some recipes, just in case I am suddenly inundated with requests. 

Now if you will excuse me I have to brush up on my Urdu poetry.