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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Favorite Summer Salads

This time of year is perfect for salads with so many fresh vegetables coming from our gardens or local farmers.  Although my children are not big salad eaters, my husband and I love them.  Below are some of our favorite salad recipes that I tend to only make in the summer.

Pasta Salad
This is my favorite Pasta Salad recipe.  Cook 2 pounds of pasta al dente.  Drain, then toss with enough Italian salad dressing to coat it.  Chill in refrigerator several hours.  Slice 1-2 sweet peppers, several carrots, 2 green onions, and a can of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered.  Add these to the chilled pasta.  Finally, add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and about half the bottle of Italian salad dressing and toss gently.  Serve chilled.  This makes a big bowl of salad that is perfect for a picnic or patio cookout---plenty to share with friends and family.

Creamy Potato Salad
Out of all the Potato Salad recipes I have tried, this is definitely my favorite.  Pare and cook 6 medium potatoes (Yukon gold or red are especially good) in boiling water for about 20-25 minutes. You want them tender but not mushy.  Drain well and put in bowl.  Add 1 cup sliced celery, 1/2 cup of chopped onion, and 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickle.  If I have some on hand, I also add several strips of cooked, crumbled bacon at this time.  Combine 1 1/4 cups of whipped salad dressing, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of celery seed, 2 teaspoons vinegar, 2 teaspoons prepared mustard, and 2 teaspoons of salt (I sometimes add more of this.)  Add this mixture to the potatoes and other vegetables.  Toss lightly to coat.  Carefully fold in 2 hard-boiled eggs that have been coarsely chopped.  Cover and chill thoroughly.  If we're having a lot of people over, I double this recipe.

Ranch Dressing
For regular tossed salads, I like to use the following Ranch Dressing recipe given to me by a good friend.  To make the dry mix: combine 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Keep in an airtight container and shake or mix well before using.  When you are ready to make the dressing, add 1 tablespoon of the mix with 1 cup of whipped salad dressing or mayonnaise and 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt. Chill.  I add no MSG to this, and it tastes fantastic.

This post is making me hungry.  I just happen to have some pasta salad left in the refrigerator, so  I think I'll go have a bite.

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