Thursday, June 14, 2012

Salads Perfect For Potluck Meals

When it's time for a potluck or picnic and someone tells you that it's your turn to bring a salad, what do you think of? The bagged ones in the produce section and a side of ranch? Traditional tossed salads are fine, but what if someone else is already bringing one? Or, what if you just want to bring something different? Here are a few recipes for potluck-ready salads. They're pretty straightforward, which is a must for those of us who don't have a lot of time to cook.

Since I got them from some friends of mine, I know they are 'church-lady approved'!
Here's a nice variation on chicken salad.

<insert name here>'s Baked Chicken Salad
2 cups sliced celery
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into cubes
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sliced toasted almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Combine everything in a shallow dish and toss lightly. Then, sprinkle with 1 cup potato chip crumbles and ½ grated cheese. It doesn't much matter which cheese you use, although I am partial to provolone or parmesan. Now, bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

For the 'Tex-Mex' lovers out there, here's a nice Southwestern take on traditional macaroni salad.

Southwestern Chili-Mac Salad
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 cans whole kernel corn
1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 red onion, half thinly sliced and half finely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook and drain pasta. Once the pasta is drained, transfer it to a large bowl and add the kidney beans, corn, sliced onion and tomatoes.

Now, saute the chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it softens, add the beef and cook until brown. Add the chili powder and salt, combine the beef and pasta mixtures and toss with dressing. Divide up into bowls, sprinkle cheese on top and serve!

And finally, here's a salad that is good for a snack or for dessert.

Waldorf Salad
6 cups apples, diced. Red Delicious and Gala varieties are good, but you can use any type of apple.
6 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put sugar, mayonnaise, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form and add to mayonnaise mixture.

Then, combine apples, celery and pecans in a larger bowl and stir in the cream/mayonnaise dressing. Once everything is coated, chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Serve!

These are some of my favorite 'potluck-ready' salads. What are yours?

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