Sassy Summer Salads

When the summer heat is beating down, nothing beats a yummy summer salad to put on the table or pack on a picnic. I love making salads– they are easy to make, look beautiful and are usually healthier than bigger meals that sit in your stomach. This summer I have three salads that I have made over and over again because they are just so delicious. The first two incorporate the super-seed quinoa (pronounced “key-nwa”) and the last one is a play on classic Italian Caprese salad. Enjoy!

1) Spinach Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Almonds

1 1/2 C quinoa, cooked according to directions and cooled in pot

1 C sliced almonds

2 C spinach, chopped

1 European cucumber, chopped

1/2 C small red onion, finely chopped

1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 C dried cranberries

5 Tbsp olive oil

4 Tbsp lemon juice

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

salt to taste (I like about 1/2 tsp)
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread almonds on baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Cool. Toss together the quinoa, almonds, spinach, cherries, cucumber, chickpeas and red onion in large serving bowl. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in small bowl and pour over salad. Toss to coat. Serves 6-8

2) Curried Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango (adapted from

1 cup quinoa, cooked following directions on package and cooled in pot
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 English cucumber, chopped
2-3 green onions or a chunk of purple onion, chopped
half a 19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bunch of cilantro washed and chopped (should yield about 1 1/2 C)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp mango chutney, chopped if chunky (I used Major Grey’s Chutney)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, chutney, honey, curry and cumin in a jar or small bowl and shake or whisk to blend. If you like, season the dressing with salt and pepper (I usually add about 1/4 tsp salt with a sprinkling of pepper).

Mix the quinoa, mango, vegetables and beans in a large bowl, pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serves 4-6. I usually double the recipe it is that good!

3) Madelene’s American Caprese Salad

1/2 box (or 8 oz) of either farfalle (butterfly) or shell pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil

8 oz package extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut in small cubes

1 package (or 2 C) of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

8 oz of fresh mozzarella (I like using the small “pearls” or you can chop up a large mozzarella ball into small cubes)

2 C spinach, chopped

2 C fresh basil leaves, chopped

3 T balsamic vinegar

1/3 C Brianna’s Rich Poppy Seed Dressing (there is no substitute for this!)

1/2 tsp salt

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain in colander and rinse with cold water to cool. Put pasta in large mixing bowl and coat with about a Tbsp of olive oil so they don’t stick to each other as you prepare the other ingredients. Mix in the cheeses, tomatoes, spinach and basil. Then add the balsamic vinegar, Poppy Seed Dressing and salt. Toss to coat. Serves 6.

— Madelene Pario


4 responses to “Sassy Summer Salads

  1. In recipe 1 (which I will try), at the bottom, you mention “cherries” Do you mean Cranberries?

  2. Pingback: Merging culinary traditions: Ugandan & American « Connect Shore·

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