Summer is the time for refreshing salads. They are perfect when you don't want to face the stove and the heat of the kitchen. They are quick and convenient to make if you are properly stocked with delicious vegetables and other accoutrements to make a healthy meal. People nowadays have a healthier (pun intended) appreciation for salads. Remember the days when individuals would joke and call them "rabbit food", or only saw them as one of many courses within an elaborate dinner? Perceptions fortunately have changed, and there are many delightful salads to enjoy from the classics like Niçoise, Caesar, and Cobb, for instance, to Asian-style salads, pasta-based salads and yes, salads with no lettuce in sight.
What is it that makes salads so appreciated and craved? Is it the crispiness of lettuce, crunchiness of a nut, creaminess of cheese, or the countless textures that can be accomplished? I think a combination of everything. Fruit is also a great additive to a salad. So many gorgeous fruits are in abundance, sun-kissed and ready to be eaten. I love adding fruit to my salads for a combination of sweet and savoury on my palate. I also try to always have citrus fruits on hand, such as limes and oranges, as a basis for dressings, as well as shallots, honey, mustard, good quality vinegars and assorted oils such as olive, walnut, and avocado for extra depth. I prefer making my own vinaigrettes which usually last up to a week in a well sealed jar.
Seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, assorted nuts, tortilla strips and fresh herbs give salads an extra je ne sais quoi. Salads are no longer just cucumber, tomato and lettuce. These wonderful concoctions add extra flavour and some excitement to a dish. Vegetables we don't normally want to eat raw such as chochos, callaloo, broccoli and cauliflower are great when marinated if we don't have the palate to appreciate them au naturel. Eat a salad by itself or served with some lovely bread or wholegrain crackers, or pair with a delicious light soup as a part of your summer dining repertoire. Regardless of how you make your salad, your body will love you for it. It's one of the easiest ways to get in your daily recommended portions of fruit and vegetables, so make it a habit to prepare them regularly.
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Tuna, Tomato and Corn Salad
It's always handy to have canned tuna in the pantry, especially when you are super hungry and want something to stop your stomach from growling any further. Tuna and sweet corn are a classic combination in baked potatoes. I like to use this combination and jazz it up with herbs and tomatoes for an easy, filling salad. Serve simply with bread for lunch or a light supper.
2 cans of tuna packed in oil, drained
1 large can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
A few tomatoes, chopped
1 large sweet pepper, sliced
Basil, roughly torn
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
In a large bowl, add tuna, corn, tomatoes, sweet pepper and red onion together.
Add your favourite balsamic dressing and toss together.
Add lots of basil and divide amongst plates.
Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Lime Honey Dressing
I know pears are not a local fruit but I grew up on and adore them. Besides, they are available in Jamaican supermarkets so I treat myself to them now and then. They are refreshing and juicy on their own, and paired with goat cheese and a citrus dressing with mixed greens make a light and perfect simple salad.
1 large log of local goat cheese, roughly torn
2 large pears, sliced
Juice of 3 large limes
1 heaped tbsp of Jamaican honey
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, add lime juice and honey, whisk together, then pour in oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
In a larger bowl add mixed greens and pear slices, add some dressing and toss together.
Top with goat cheese and drizzle the remaining dressing.
JuicyChef's Marinated Mushrooms
I like to serve these if I am making an antipasto platter or doing my own style "salad bar" for my family or friends to mix and match what they like. Or I like to add these as a component of vegetarian sandwiches.
1 carton button mushrooms, grit removed and sliced
1 Scotch Bonnet, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, add Scotch bonnet, parsley, lime juice and olive oil and whisk to combine.
Add mushrooms and toss together and allow to marinate overnight.