I grew up having a dinner salad almost every night with my meal. And after moving out on my own, I have continued to make a salad for most dinners.  There is just something refreshing like a cold, crisp lettuce salad with your dinner.  I love romaine lettuce, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, green onions, cauliflower and radishes in my salad.  My husband can do without the cauliflower and radishes but he loves jicama.

Needless to say, you can always find fresh vegetables in my refrigerator – along with an assortment of salad dressings.  I’m the oil and vinegar type dressing girl, while my husband is more the creamier type (blue cheese for sure!)  My dad used to make an oil and vinegar and blue cheese dressing (long before Newman’s came out with the bottled kind) and after begging for years, he finally gave in and typed up the recipe for me.  But he labeled it TOP SECRET and I had to promise not to share it with anyone outside of the family.  So let me just say it includes oil, tarragon vinegar, red wine vinegar, garlic, blue cheese and lots of spices (including dill weed and red peppers).  Even though I can’t give out that full recipe, I will give you my mom’s favorite salad dressing recipe.

Mom’s Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 small onion minced

Directions

Mix together and refrigerate.  She used to serve this with a salad of 8 ounces of cubed cream cheese or feta cheese, any kind of lettuce and 1 cup cashews.  She would also sometimes add other ingredients like red onion, celery, raisins or dried cherries, crisp bacon or ripe olives.

Quinoa Salad

Vegetables are so versatile when used in salads.  In addition to lettuce salads, vegetables (and many fruits) can be used in potato salads, pasta salads, cole slaws and quinoa salads. Quinoa is the new pasta.  Try out this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 medium radishes – very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound thin green beans
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 large English cucumber – quartered and cut into small slices
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp parsley – chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 ounces Greek feta cheese – thinly sliced

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the red wine vinegar and sugar to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the radish slices. Let stand until cool, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the green beans until they are crisp yet tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans under cold water until cool. Pat the beans dry and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover and simmer over low heat until all of the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Uncover and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the quinoa with the parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Drain the radishes and add them to the quinoa, along with the beans, cucumber and feta.
  5. Toss well and serve or refrigerate for a later time.

Now that it is summer and getting warmer, a nice cold crisp salad for dinner is a way to beat the heat.  Pass the salad please.