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Cooking On The Couch: Summer Salads

NEW YORK (WLNY) -- Summer is the season for salads.

Executive Chef at the Just Salad restaurants, Laura Pensiero, stopped by The Couch to show us how to put together a summer harvest salad.

More: NYC's 7 Best Cold Eats For Hot Days

Summer Harvest Salad with Chilled Avocado Dressing
Makes 4 servings

8 ounces (about 8 cups) rinsed, spun torn Romaine lettuce
4 ounces (about 4 cups) spinach leaves
2 cups fresh corn kernels (boiled or grilled then removed from the cob - 4 ears)
1 ½ cup cooked black beans (or canned, drained rinsed)
1 ½ cups cooked barley or wheat berries
1 ½ cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 cup Chilled Avocado Dressing (see below)

Toss all of the salad ingredients, except the dressing, together in a large mixing or salad bowl. Drizzle in the dressing, toss to combine and server immediately.

Chilled Avocado Dressing
Makes 2 cups

2 whole avocados, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
1 shallot chopped
1  teaspoon salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¾ to 1 cup water (to desired consistency)

Combine all the ingredients except for the water in the work bowl or a food process; pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle the water through the feed tube until dressing reaches desired consistency - thin enough to pour but thick enough to coat lettuce. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and add a bit more cayenne if you like the 'heat'.

Summer Cool Down Salad:
A classic combination of ingredients that help cool you down and keep you hydrated on one of summer's sizzling days. The flavors go well with just about anything off the grill.
To make this refreshing salad a meal, add grilled shrimp or chicken - both will blend in nicely with the salad and the lemony vinaigrette.
Makes 4 servings
6 ounces (about 6 cups) rinsed, spun torn Romaine lettuce
6 ounces (about 6 cups) iceberg leaves
1 medium seedless cucumber peeled in alternate strips, sliced thin
2 large local fresh tomatoes, cored, and cut into wedges
1 small-medium red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
½ cup thinly sliced radishes (about 8 each)
1 cup Lemon Vinaigrette
Lemon Vinaigrette
Makes 1 1/4 cups

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons) 1 ½ tablespoons minced shallots 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup olive/canola oil blend (combine ½ cup each if you cannot find blend)
Combine all the ingredients except the oil in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle the oil through the feed tube.  Continue mixing until all the oil is incorporated and the dressing is emulsified.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

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