Want meat, add it. Want to go vegetarian, subtract the meat.
Gather your ingredients and let's have some fun with salads.
Leave it to America's Test Kitchen, creators of cookbooks and the hit PBS TV show, to produce what we need right now. "The Complete Salad Cookbook." It's full of all kinds of dishes. My two favorites are shared here.
One-Pot Pasta Salad With Chicken is hearty and can be served at room temperature. It's also so pretty. Don't worry about soggy pasta. It firms as it cools so overcooking ensures the proper texture. Any cooked chicken works as does any dry pasta.
Why would you have a plain old salad when you can have German Potato Salad.
Unlike other potato salads, it is best served warm and offers flavors from bacon and vinegar. Low-starch, small red potatoes, cut in half and cooked in heavily salted water, won't break down.
When nectarines appear at stores and markets, you know it's time for Nectarine Chicken Salad, a favorite dish when Greenwich Bay Gourmet opened their doors more than a decade ago. The Rhode Island market is now under new ownership.
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Toasted Orzo Salad is nice served cold over seasonal salad greens.
The contrasting flavors of sweet and sour, numerous textures and nutty aroma, will complement any beef, pork, chicken or lamb dish when you want it served warm. The now gone Eastside Marketplace in Providence shared the recipe back in 2004.
Wheat Berry Salad is a favorite prepared food at Dave's Fresh Marketplace grocery stores across Rhode Island. They shared the recipe for anyone to try this recipe with loads of healthful ingredients that can be served chilled or at room temperature.
One-Pot Pasta Salad With Chicken
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup pitted olives, halved
½ cup finely chopped pepperoncini
6 ounces (2 cups) fusilli or other short, curly pasta
Table salt for cooking pasta and green beans
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula or baby spinach
4 ounces feta or goat cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Whisk oil, vinegar, anchovies, garlic, and pepper flakes together in large bowl.
Add tomatoes, olives, and pepperoncini to dressing and toss to combine; set aside.
Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 12 minutes (do not drain).
Add green beans to boiling water with pasta and continue to cook until pasta is very soft and green beans are bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes.
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Drain pasta and green beans in colander and rinse under cold water until chilled. Drain well and transfer to bowl with dressing mixture.
Add chicken, arugula, and feta to pasta mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Notes: Salad can be made without arugula and refrigerated for up to 2 days; toss with arugula before serving.
Serves 4 to 6
German Potato Salad
2 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved if small or quartered if large
Table salt for cooking potatoes
8 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 red onion, chopped fine
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or chives
Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in large saucepan or Dutch oven and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium; and simmer until potatoes are tender and paring knife can be slipped in and out of potatoes with little resistance, about 10 minutes.
Reserve ½ cup potato cooking water, then drain potatoes. Return potatoes to pot and cover to keep warm.
While potatoes are simmering, cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.
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Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate; pour off all but ¼ cup fat. Add onion to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
Stir in sugar until dissolved, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and reserved potato cooking water; bring to simmer and cook until mixture is reduced to about 1 cup, about 3 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in mustard and pepper. Add potatoes, parsley, and bacon to skillet and toss to combine; season with salt to taste.
Transfer to serving bowl and serve.
Serves 6 to 8
Wheat Berry Salad
8 ounces wheat berries
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup craisins
½ cup raisins
⅓ cup chopped basil
4 ounces salad oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
⅓ teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅓ teaspoon pureed ginger
¼ cup shredded carrots
Cook wheat berries in boiling water, about 20-25 minutes, until they pop. Chill them.
Add almonds, craisins, raisins and basil to the wheat berries.
Make the dressing with the oil, cider vinegar, mustard, spices, herbs and carrots. Combine and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Makes 2½ pounds of salad.
Notes: Find the wheat berries in the aisle with rice and grains.
Pureed ginger is sold in a 2-ounce bottle in the produce aisle.
Nectarine Chicken Salad
6 boneless chicken breasts
5 ripe nectarines
½ cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup diced scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
Dressing (see recipe)
Pound, grill and cool the chicken breasts. (You can also use a grill pan on your stove top and finish them in the oven.) Slice the chicken width-wise into strips and put them into a bowl.
Wash and pit the nectarines, and slice them.
Wash and chop basil, parsley and dice the white and green parts of the scallions.
Toss all of your ingredients together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if desired.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup honey
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1½ cups olive oil
Blend vinegar, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper. With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Toss the dressing over the chicken salad to your desired amount. Chill and serve.
Note: Save the rest of the dressing in your refrigerator for the next batch.
Shared by Greenwich Bay Gourmet, 2009, in East Greenwich.
Toasted Orzo Salad
For the dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt to taste
½ cup vegetable oil
Blend all ingredients together and mix well.
May be stored at room temperature or refrigerated.
For the salad
1 pound orzo pasta
½ cup almond slivers
½ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried dates
2 tablespoons fresh minced Italian parsley
½ cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast the orzo and almonds separately in a 375-degree oven until golden brown, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.
Bring a gallon of lightly salted water to a boil, add the orzo and stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Cook pasta for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, until tender, drain under cold water, and then cool completely.
Dice the apricots and dates into small cubes and add the parsley and cranberries. When the orzo has cooled, toss everything together with the dressing and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serves 10 with 3-ounce servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: 5 summer salad recipes to try