In The Early Show's Five-Minute Cooking Class with Williams-Sonoma, cooking teacher and author Tori Ritchie says salads can be quick and easy to prepare, but to get optimum flavor, she offers the following tips:
- Be sure to use fresh seasonal vegetables.
Use extra virgin olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice for vinaigrettes.
Use herbs to flavor the dressing, and maybe mustard, or chilis, or garlic to further punch up that flavor.
When serving, most summer salads look best on a platter rather than in bowls to show off the ingredients.
The following are her recipes for Fattoush Salad, Pasta Salad with Grilled Tuna and Roasted Tomatoes, London Broil Salad, and Thai Chicken Salad:
Throughout the Mediterranean, bread salads have long been a staple. This particular version is an excellent way to use up leftover pita bread. Serve with a glass of dry white wine.
2 pita bread rounds, 3 to 4 days old and each 8 inches in diameter
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and diced
Salt for sprinkling cucumbers, plus salt to taste
3 tomatoes, about 1 1/4 lb. total, seeded and diced
6 green onions, including tender green portions, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
- Split each pita bread into 2 rounds by separating it along the outside seam; then tear the rounds into 1-inch pieces. Spread the pieces out on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl.
- Meanwhile, spread the diced cucumber on paper towels in a single layer, salt lightly and let drain for 15 minutes. Transfer to a colander, place under cold running water for a few seconds and then pat dry with clean paper towels.
- Add the cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, bell pepper, mint, parsley and cilantro to the bread. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the vegetables and bread and toss well.
- Transfer the salad to a platter and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Pasta Salad With Grilled Tuna And Roasted Tomatoes
Serve this lunch salad to a hungry crowd just back from the beach. The ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and tossed with the dressing just before serving.
8 plum tomatoes, about 1 1/4 lb. total, halved lengthwise
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta shells
2 lb. tuna fillets, each about 3/4 inch thick
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a hot fire in a grill.
- Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Arrange them, cut sides up, on the sheet and season with salt. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then cut in half crosswise.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again. Set aside.
- Brush both sides of the tuna fillets with 1 Tbs. of the oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Place on the grill rack 4 to 6 inches above the fire and grill until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more for medium, or until done to your liking. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool and cut into 3/4-inch cubes.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the basil leaves and the remaining 1/2 cup oil. Pulse or blend until chopped to a coarse puree. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Pulse or blend until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tomatoes and any accumulated juices, tuna, mozzarella, parsley and basil dressing. Toss gently and serve. Serves 8.
London Broil Salad
Contrary to supermarket meat labels, London broil is not a cut of beef nor is it British. Rather, it is a classic American way to prepare a large, flat steak, which can be anything from sirloin to round to flank. Since the steak needs to be sliced thinly, flank is the perfect choice, as it is full flavored but must be tenderized by marinating and thinly slicing across the grain.
For the mustard-herb vinaigrette:
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
1 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 lb. and 1 to
1 1/2 inches thick
1 large head romaine lettuce, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
3 tomatoes cut into wedges
1 wedge pecorino Romano cheese
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, marjoram, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Place the meat in a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold it flat. Pour half of the vinaigrette over the meat and turn to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate the remaining vinaigrette. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade, reserving the marinade.
- Grill the meat over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill, turning once or twice and brushing with the reserved marinade for up to 5 minutes before the meat is done, until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, 10 to 12 minutes total for medium-rare.
- Transfer the meat to a carving board and let rest for about 5 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain, reserving any meat juices that accumulate.
- In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the reserved vinaigrette; then divide the lettuce evenly among individual plates. Arrange the meat over the lettuce; then arrange the tomato wedges around the meat, dividing evenly. Drizzle the steak with any accumulated meat juices. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, shave the cheese, sprinkle the shavings over the salad and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Thai Chicken Salad
Shredded chicken, diced avocado and shredded greens are dressed with the flavors of Southeast Asia to make a light main-course salad for the outdoor table. Fish sauce, a salty seasoning, is sold in Asian markets. For a festive presentation, omit the diced avocado from the salad and spoon the salad into 4 avocado halves.
2 chicken breast halves, each 1/2 lb.
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbs. fish sauce
1/3 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbs. seeded and minced Serrano chili
1 small avocado, pitted, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the chicken breast halves, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until the juices no longer run pink when the chicken is pierced to the bone with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove and discard the skin. Remove the chicken from the bone and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Place the cabbage half on a cutting board and, using a large knife, slice across the cut side into the thinnest possible shreds. Measure out 2 cups; reserve any left over for another use. Cut and measure the lettuce in the same way. Set aside.
- In a bowl, stir together the vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the dressing. Add the cabbage, lettuce and chili and toss to combine. Add the diced avocado and gently turn the salad to distribute evenly.
- Divide the salad among 4 individual plates or bowls. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve. Serves 4.