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Bless Your Spoon: Fresh salad plates great for summer get-togethers

By Stephanie Williams Dean

 

A favorite restaurant features see-through, glass cases filled with bowls of fresh salads. I order a salad sampler, which allows me to try different meat, fruit, and veggie flavor combos.

During summer, an easy way to lighten up is to prepare a variety of colorful salad bowls and appetizing platters – both pleasing to the eye and tasty. An added bonus is the fact salads can be prepared ahead of time – days ahead, if necessary.

If you’re entertaining guests, include at least one platter with a couple of different bowls – preferable a meat, fruit, and veggie. Select salads based on ingredients – and make sure all flavors combine well and combined taste is pleasing to your palate.

Salads don’t have to be complicated to be good – but fresh is best. Today’s selections are cool and refreshing – you can take a break from your oven. Pre-cooked, roasted chickens are available at most grocers. Bottled vegetable marinades are reserved and used as they provide good taste and save time.

Be sure to include a loaf of delicious, date nut, sweet bread – sliced, with that obligatory schmear of flavored cream cheese.

Bet you won’t feel obligated to eat it.

SHRIMP SALAD PLATE

1 lb. cooked, peeled, de-veined shrimp

1 diced apple

1 cup diced celery

3 Tbsp. premium mayonnaise

Pinch of sugar and mace

Paprika

Lettuce leaves

Platter

Tomato and hard boiled egg wedges

Cheddar cheese and cucumber slices

Dressing

½ cup premium mayonnaise

¼ cup ketchup

In a bowl, combine chopped shrimp, apple, celery, sugar, and mace. On a platter, mound salad in center of lettuce leaves and sprinkle with paprika. Arrange tomato, hard boiled eggs, cheese, and cucumber around salad. Drizzle salad with dressing.

MOLDED CHICKEN & FRUIT SALAD PLATE

5 oz. roasted chicken

½ cup diced celery

1 cup diced golden delicious apple

2 tbsp. grated onion

½ cup halved, purple, seedless grapes

2 Tbsp. curry powder

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup cream

1 ½ Tbsp. salt

Pepper to taste

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

Roast chicken until done. Cool. Remove meat from bones and cut up. In a bowl, add chicken, celery, apples, onion, and grapes. Mix well. Add just enough mayonnaise and cream to hold salad together. Add curry, salt, pepper, and almonds Mix well. When ready to serve, add more mayo if necessary to mold into a ring around platter. Place bowl of Seasoned Cottage Cheese in the center.

SEASONED COTTAGE CHEESE

1 quart large curd cottage cheese

¼ pint sour cream

¼ pint premium mayonnaise

4 minced onions including tops

½ tsp. hot sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tsp. Lawry’s seasoned pepper

1 ½ tsp. garlic salt

¼ tsp. salt

Paprika

In a mixer bowl, combine cottage cheese sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salts. Mix well. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, pour into serving bowl, and sprinkle top with paprika. Place in center of a chicken salad ring.

ANTIPASTO SALAD BOWL

2 tomatoes

½ cup pitted ripe olives

Hearts of Romaine lettuce

12 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, with liquid

Slice tomatoes. Cut olives and artichoke hearts in quarters. Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, lettuce, and artichoke hearts with enough marinade to thoroughly coat. Toss to serve. Yield: 4 servings.

GARDEN TOMATO SALAD BOWL

6 large homegrown tomatoes

3 diced cloves of garlic

¼ tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 chopped fresh basil leaves

In a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite-sized wedges, retaining juice. Add garlic, oregano, and salt. Add basil leaves and olive oil. Mix well. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving.

AVOCADO SALAD PLATE

2 large avocados

8 oz. marinated mushrooms, with liquid

3 oz. drained sliced pimentos

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 Boston lettuce

Cut each avocado in half and discard seeds. Peel halves. Cut each half into 6 chunks. In a bowl, toss avocados with mushrooms including marinade, pimentos, and pepper. Arrange leaves on a platter. Spoon avocado mixture over lettuce leaves.

EASY PASTA SALAD BOWL

2 envelopes Italian salad dressing mix

16 oz. cooked, drained Rotelle pasta

16 oz. frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix

1 cup sliced, pitted black olives

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Prepare salad dressing in a 1 quart container with tight lid, and refrigerate 2 hours. Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Thaw vegetables completely in strainer by running col tap water over them. Drain well. In a bowl, combine pasta, vegetables, olives, and cheese. Add just enough cold salad dressing to thoroughly coat when tossed. Chill 3 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with cheese.

FRUIT & NUT SALAD PLATE

Dressing

¼ cup walnut or olive oil

2 Tbsp. pure honey

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. dry white wine

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. salt

Candy Walnuts

½ cup walnut halves

3 Tbsp. sugar

Salad

1 head torn Romaine lettuce

2 peeled, sectioned oranges

1 ½ cup halved strawberries

2 sliced celery stalks

3 sliced green onions

In a jar, combine oil, honey, vinegar, wine, ginger, and salt. Cover and shake well. Chill. For the nuts, in a skillet, combine broken walnuts and sugar. Cook while stirring over medium heat until sugar melts and walnuts are coated. When coated thoroughly, turn out on waxed paper. Cool before breaking apart.  For the salad, in a bowl, combine romaine lettuce, orange sections, berries, celery and onions. Shake cold dressing and pour over salad. Toss. Spoon onto plates and top with candied nuts.

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN SALAD PLATE

2 envelopes Ranch dressing mix

4 cooked, boneless/skinless chicken breasts

16 oz. drained pineapple chunks

1 cup toasted broken walnuts

Red lettuce leaves

For dressing mix, follow dressing instructions and chill 3 hours. Boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes or until done but still tender. Cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Toast walnuts and break in pieces. In a bowl, combine cubed chicken, drained pineapple, and toasted walnuts. Chill at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, combine with enough dressing to thoroughly coat. Line a platter with red lettuce leaves. Pile salad in center.

CITRUS SALAD BOWL

1 bunch romaine lettuce

½ lb. fresh spinach

3 peeled, sectioned oranges

1-2 peeled, sectioned grapefruit

Honey Lemon Dressing

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

¼ cup honey

½ tsp. dry mustard

Celery salt to taste

In a bowl, break lettuce and spinach into bite sized pieces. Combine greens and fruits. Chill. When ready to serve, toss with dressing. For the dressing, in a mixer bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, and dry mustard. Mix well until well blended. Salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

SPANISH SALAD PLATE

Salad greens

14 oz. chunk white albacore tuna

6 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, liquid reserved

15 pitted olives

Reserved artichoke liquid

4 tbsp. wine vinegar

6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in wedges

4 quartered tomatoes

10 anchovy filets

Arrange salad greens on a platter. In a bowl, toss tuna, drained artichokes, and olives. In a bowl, combine reserved artichoke marinade and vinegar. Pour over salad and toss gently. Place strips of anchovies over all. Arrange egg and tomato wedges along the outside.

DATE NUT BANANA BREAD

2 beaten eggs

1 ½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 cups boiling water

2 large, ripe bananas

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup ground pecans

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, butter, and extract. Mix well. Add flour, baking soda, powder, and salt while alternating with boiling water. Mix well. Fold in banana, dates, and pecans until well blended. Bake in 2 greased and floured loaf pans in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until tests done. Serve sliced with spread of cream cheese.