Friday, August 16, 2013

Picnic-Perfect Salads

Since the end of summer is coming, a lot of people are taking advantage of the warm weather while they can. Since many people in the US have Labor Day-the day some people say marks the end of summer-off work, it's the perfect time for cookouts, picnics and other kind of outdoor parties. As I'm sure you've noticed, every get-together has at least one type of 'salad'. It's usually potato, which is good, but sometimes people want something different. To that end, here are a couple of ideas for (off-beat) salads that will knock everyone's socks off!

If you want to trick your kids into eating vegetables or just like your beans, here's a Mexican bean salad.  No, I'm not going to sing the song. Your kids can handle that. :)

Mexican three-Bean Salad
1 15-ounce kidney beans
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp salt
½ tbsp ground black pepper
½ tbsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
1 dash hot pepper sauce

In a small bowl, whisk up the red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice garlic, sugar, salt, cilantro, garlic, cumin and pepper.

Now, put the corn, beans, onion and bell peppers in a large bowl. Mix the two bowls together, add a bit of olive oil, chili powder and hot sauce to taste and refrigerate. Serve it cold. Perhaps it could also make a good filling for tacos and burritos?
One of my favorite sandwiches is the BLT. If you agree and would like a 'salad' version, all you need to do is cook up some pasta, crumble some bacon, dice some tomatoes and add some roughly-chopped romaine lettuce. Top it off with a dressing made of half a cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of mayo, the same of Dijon mustard and the juice of a lemon. Add a few croutons, and you have a BLT in a bowl. I love it!

This one is called 'Frog-Eye Salad'. It's great for a dessert or a sweet treat. No, it does not actually contain frog eyes, although you can easily tease the kids by telling them it does. :)

Frog-Eye Salad
1 16-once box acini di pepe pasta. If you've never seen it, it looks like little balls.
2 20-ounce cans pineapple 'tidbits', drained
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
3 11-ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 8-ounce tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 quarts water
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 cup mini-marshmallows
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp salt

Put water, oil ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan with the pasta. Boil pasta to the firmness you prefer.

In another saucepan, mix the flour, sugar, pineapple juice, eggs and the rest of the salt. Using medium heat, cook until thickened. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and set aside to cool.

Combine the egg mixture, pasta, pineapple, whipped toping and oranges. Now, refrigerate overnight or until chilled. Add coconut and marshmallows, combine and serve.

Due to the eggs, this recipe is vegetarian but not vegan. I wonder if using whipped topping that isn't entirely thawed could help it chill faster?

Enjoy yourself!

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