Beat the Heat with Main Dish Salads
By Lori Grossman
Forget about the calendar. I have my own way of knowing when summer comes to Texas. Like when the neighbors start mowing their grass at 7:30 a.m. to avoid suffering from heatstroke. When the temperature is in the mid-90s by noon.
Or, when you break into a sweat just walking from an air-conditioned building to your car (and then burn your hands on the steering wheel). Another sign is that I start craving cool foods or food that doesn’t require much cooking. A timely subject for this month, don’t you agree?
When I was little, the heat never bothered me. I remember playing outdoors in hundred-degree temperatures with no ill effects. I look back now and wonder how I tolerated the heat. I’m guessing that the vinyl kiddie pool in the backyard, plus frequent helpings of ice cream or Popsicles, might have had something to do with it. Mom prepared main-dish salads for supper as often as possible, which was fine with the family. Food that is light-tasting and/or cold goes down easier in the throes of a Texas summer.
The great thing about these first two recipes is that they require very little cooking, and they aren’t heavy on your stomach. Don’t let the long list of ingredients in the tuna salad scare you away. The actual cooking involves just the green beans and homemade croutons. The corn and black bean salad is a vegetarian alternative to a meat or poultry dish, and provides that all-important protein.
Tangy Tuna SaladYou can shorten the cooking time even more if you use store-bought croutons, but why bother when homemade tastes so great?
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat green beans in 1 inch of water to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 to 8 minutes until beans are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse beans under cold running water.
Why does food taste so wonderful when you’re eating outdoors?
In a large salad bowl, with a fork or wire whisk, mix red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until blended. To the dressing in the bowl, add tuna, white kidney beans, tomatoes, lettuce, chicory, red onion, green beans, and croutons. Toss well to distribute the dressing evenly. Makes 4 main-dish servings.
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Meanwhile, thinly slice the lettuce. You should have about 2 cups, loosely packed. Dice the red pepper.
When corn is cool enough to handle, slice off the kernels with a sharp knife.
In a large bowl, with a wire whisk or fork, mix the apricot preserves, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Add the corn kernels, lettuce, red pepper, black beans, lima beans, chopped jalapeño and cilantro. Toss gently.
Spread the cornhusks open to form pockets. Fill each pocket with an equal amount of corn salad.
If not serving right away, place the filled cornhusks on a large platter. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, arrange filled husks on 4 dinner plates and garnish with tortilla chips, cilantro springs, and whole jalapeño peppers. Makes 4 main dish servings.
Sorbet-Ice Cream CakeMake sure you allow enough time to freeze the cake (at least 4 hours).
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat, then stir in lime peel for a minute or so.
In a 9-inch springform pan, stir wafer crumbs and melted butter together with a fork until moistened. With your hands, press the wafer mixture firmly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
When you take the crust out of the oven, place 1 pint of the vanilla ice cream and the three sorbets in the refrigerator to thaw slightly, about 30 minutes.
Spoon alternating scoops of vanilla ice cream and the three sorbets into the springform pan making two layers. Press the mixture down to eliminate air pockets. Place pan in the freezer to harden the mixture slightly, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place remaining vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator to soften slightly. With a metal spatula, evenly spread the softened ice cream over the frozen layers in the springform pan. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
To serve, place warm dampened towels around the side of the pan for about 20 seconds to slightly soften the ice cream. Remove side of pan and place cake on a platter (at this point, remove pan bottom also, if you like).
Cover and keep cake frozen if not serving right away. Or, let stand at room temperature about 10 minutes for easier slicing. Before serving, garnish top of cake with slices of mango and fresh berries. Makes 20 servings.
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