Substantial Salads

—by Anna Dains

(Reprinted from the July 1988 issue of the SAP Foods newsletter.)

There are two distinct advantages to preparing a fresh supper salad in the morning or even the night before. First, early preparation allows flavors to “marry” and all ingredients to chill evenly. Second, you’ll be out of the kitchen at the hottest time of the day, smiling enigmatically at the question, “What’s for supper?”

The following recipes are meant to be skeletons—fill them in with additional fresh herbs and vegetables as they come into season.

Start with a basic vinaigrette—yours, mine or your favorite cookbook’s. I love creamy dressings as much as anyone, but in summer they’re often just too heavy. A vinaigrette is light and easy.

Anna’s Basic Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar or juice of ½ lemon (my preference)
½ teaspoon sea salt or tamari
dash of cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a screw-on lid. Cover tightly and shake well. Taste, and add more vinegar, lemon juice and/or salt, to your liking. Refrigerate until used.

Food traditionalists will note that I don’t use “freshly ground black pepper” in my vinaigrette—it doesn’t agree with me. If you like it, use about ¼ teaspoon.

Now, I never make a Basic Vinaigrette without the addition of at least one of the following:

, 1 teaspoon dry mustard

,  1 clove garlic, crushed

,  2 tablespoons each fresh herbs (or a pinch dried) of my own whim, depending on salad ingredients

Basic Pasta Salad

4 cups cooked noodles (approximately ½ pound raw)
½ cup sliced scallions
½ cup coarsely chopped
       green pepper
1 cup lightly cooked green beans, cut diagonally
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons summer savory Basic Vinaigrette dressing

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except vinaigrette. Gradually add vinaigrette and toss with noodles and vegetables, until all ingredients are well coated, but not soggy. Refrigerate at least two hours, along with extra vinaigrette, if any. If salad seems dry add a little more vinaigrette just before serving.

Serves 6.

Popular additions and variations

, ½ cup pitted ripe olives, coarsely chopped

, 4 tablespoons chopped pimiento or red bell pepper—great color!

, 1 cup cooked and drained chick peas (add garlic to vinaigrette)

, 1 cup cooked and drained kidney beans (try 2 tablespoons fresh basil)

, 1 can albacore tuna, flaked (add two tablespoons fresh dill and—surprise—tuna salad!)

My favorite preparation for tender new potatoes is hot, tossed with butter, chives, and parsley. Second best is Potatoes Vinaigrette, a chilled, cholesterol-free version.

Potatoes Vinaigrette

2 pounds small new potatoes
2 cups lightly steamed fresh peas
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Basic Vinaigrette dressing

Place potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover and salt to taste. Boil about 15 minutes, or until just tender, depending on size.

Drain potatoes, and cut into halves or quarters (depending on size) as soon as you can handle them. Do not peel. While potatoes are still warm, toss with about half of the vinaigrette. Cool.

Add remaining vegetables and herbs and enough vinaigrette to coat but not drench. Chill thoroughly, at least two hours, and add additional vinaigrette before serving, if necessary.

Serves 6.


, 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

, 1 cup kohlrabi, sliced

, 4 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard added to vinaigrette makes a light potato salad

, 4 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper