As a chef, one of my culinary dreams is studying new food trends, developing seasonal menus and testing new recipes. I have been in my test kitchen quite a bit lately. The entire process is grounding and soulful.
Buying the food fresh from local farmers, taking it into my space, and lovingly transforming it into wonderful creations for all of us to eat makes me feel like I am part of the bigger picture. It makes me happy.
As I’ve mentioned before, creating meals also a spiritual thing for me. Cooking has been a huge therapeutic part of my life and it’s meditative to me to be one with the food.
The creations I’ve been working with lately are summer items–beyond all other considerations– are salads. Salads can come in many different varieties and have their own personality –just like us. They can also be placed in ramekins, on skewers and Parmesan baskets instead of the typical boring glass bowl.
This week. I want to share 8 knock your socks off salads that you can prepare for yourself, your family or take to a potluck and be the hit of the party.
Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses and a pen to sign autographs.
8 Awesome Summer Salads
1. Classic Caesar
Face it, who does not love a good Caesar salad? House-made garlicky and lemon infused dressing, giant crunchy croutons that came from real hands and small ovens and shaved Parmasano Reggiano. A Caesar salad is always a hit and so easy to make in a pinch.
Now upscale grocery stores make their own croutons and even Caesar dressing so you don’t have to rely on boxes of monosodium glutamate-filled bread cubes and bottled dressing. Throw some grilled chicken or shrimp in with the salad and let yourself be transcended.
2. Asian Slaw
This is one of my favorite twists on traditional coleslaw. Use a mixture of dark sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger and cilantro for your dressing. Throw in some peanuts and hit it with a little Sriracha and it’s the bomb.
3. Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad
Tarragon is a spice that people either love or hate. It has a licorice flavor and although I dislike licorice, I adore tarragon. One of the best made marriages in the culinary world are chicken and tarragon. The beautiful part about this salad is you can use leftover chicken and if you are really lazy, rotisserie chicken.
4. Smoked Mozzarella with Pasta and Pine Nuts
This salad is a hit all of the time because it falls into the mainstream category and it’s ingredients are all popular as a whole.
5. Farro with Asparagus and Pecorino Romano
Farro has been showing itself more and more on menus as society continues to explore healthy options. Farro is a wheat grain, tastes great and is good for you.
It’s very versatile and when tossed with roasted or grilled asparagus, fresh grated Pecorino Romano, roasted garlic and a light vinaigrette, you will get tons of nutrients along with a lot of flavor.
6. Lima Bean, Tuna and Celery
This is a take on a Mediterranean style salad and is very refreshing. Use high quality canned albacore tuna and cook your Lima beans from scratch. Another filling salad.
7. Lemon Basil Shrimp
Shrimp is one of my favorite things in the world and when tossed with fresh lemon and basil ribbons, you won’t be able to stop eating it.
8. Watermelon and Prosciutto
Come on now. Anything with prosciutto is a winner. Toss it with some fresh basil and you can even throw in some ripe tomatoes.
If you would like the complete recipes, let me know here or via email at realmaria.com and I will happily share with you.
I leave you this week with a video from one of my favorite chefs- Jamie Oliver, who gives great tips on making salads
Have a great week,