Cooking with Rod
Time for Cool Cooking – Salads on the Menu
The temperature is beginning to rise and no one wants to be working over a hot stove. So, let’s set some of my Sweet Mate’s excellent salad dinners on the table. Here’s a collection of her salad inspirations that are easy to prepare, pretty to serve, and delicious to eat!
First of all, let’s do a flashback to a recipe previously presented in this column, but timely for the season – M’s Waldorf Chicken Salad.
Melinda’s Waldorf Chicken Salad
4 cooked, cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can boil, grill, or bake the chicken)
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, sliced in half
- 1 cup peeled or unpeeled (your choice) Red Delicious apples, cut in small bits
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 6 pecan halves for garnish
- 3 crisp celery stalks, with strings removed before cutting into small pieces
- ½ cup Miracle Whip, low fat (you can substitute Greek Yogurt if you so choose)
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice
- Cinnamon, a dash
- Apple Pie spice, a dash
In medium bowl, toss together chicken cubes, grape halves, apple bits, chopped pecans and celery. In a separate bowl, whisk together the Miracle Whip (or Greek Yogurt) with the spices and a squeeze of lemon. Add to chicken mixture and toss gently, making sure not to shred the chicken cubes.
Cover and chill well. Just before serving, use pecan halves to decorate the top of the salad.
This goes so well with an old family favorite, updated by my Sweet M, the English Pea Salad dish served fresh from the garden back when MomMay and DaddyJack created a garden that was the envy of all – including the County Extension Agent who could never believe his eyes when he spied over the back hedge to see what they’d managed to grow in the desert THIS time!
Melinda’s Version of English Pea Salad
2 cans green peas, drained thoroughly
- ½ jar (about ¾ cup) Roasted Red Peppers (pimiento peppers, but sold as Roasted Red Peppers you get more for much less money), drained and chopped (Retain the juice. We will use it later)
- 4 eggs hard-boiled and minced
- 4 stalks celery, de-stringed and diced in small pieces about the size of the peas
- ½ medium Red Onion, diced about the size of the peas
- ½ cup Miracle Whip (use mayo if you wish, we prefer this)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Cheddar cheese, cubed to just larger than the peas
- Juice retained from Roasted Red Pepper jar
(Select a pretty bowl for serving, but I like to prepare in a separate bowl then place in the serving bowl.) Place peas, pimiento peppers, eggs, celery, and onion in the bowl. Whisk Miracle Whip with Juice from the pimiento peppers and black pepper. Add to bowl and gently fold into the pea mixture.
Add cheddar cheese cubes just before serving so they don’t get mushy. Gently fold into the mixture and serve.
3 ripe (not overripe) bananas
- 3 apples (Red Delicious or other sweet and crisp apple, not tart)
- 2 cups seedless grapes, red or green or both
- 2 16 oz. cans or 1 32 oz. can fruit salad, thoroughly drained
- ½ to 1 cup pecans, broken into small pieces
- 1 cup Vanilla Yogurt
- Dash cinnamon
- Whipping cream, prepared, or use the canned variety
Cut all fruit into bite size pieces, leave the peel on the apple for its color and texture. Fold in the drained fruit cocktail. Add pecan pieces. Mix well.
Add yogurt and fold the fruit mixture, keeping it light and fluffy. Use cinnamon sparingly so as to merely entice the palate, not override it.
Just before serving, add whipping cream, Cool Whip, or canned Whipped Cream and fold into the salad.
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These salad selections provide the protein, vegetable, and fruit dessert needs for any Spring or Summer meal. Provide a nice crisp baguette to complement the Waldorf Chicken Salad and offer a pitcher each of fresh brewed tea and a lovely lemonade to keep it brisk and cool.
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