Pack up a picnic and hit the outdoors this holiday weekend. The weather is perfect and the days are long. Here are a few salads that can be made in advance and travel well: no mayo, no wilting lettuce leaves.
Brown Rice Salad
The method here is to boil the brown rice like pasta in a large pot of water till the grains have burst open and are tender. I like to add fruits and nuts to this salad with some chives for a little bite. The dressing is a classic vinaigrette (1 part vinegar to 3 parts good olive oil) with the addition of a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate whisked in. I combine the ingredients when the rice is still warm (but not HOT) so the warmth releases all the flavors, then let the salad come to room temp or chill for at least an hour before serving.
For this version I used dried cranberries soaked in hot water for 20 minutes to soften and fresh mango cut into bite sized cubes. I toasted some mixed nuts and roughly chopped them, then added some chopped celery for extra crunch.
Three Bean Salad
Sometimes the old classic are just what hits the spot. Don't be shy about using canned beans. Take a rest, it is a holiday weekend after all!
Bean salad can seem humdrum so be sure to give it a specific point of view. In this recipe I added lots of dill. The classic vinaigrette is sparked up with dried mustard, chopped garlic and dried oregano. Red onion and celery add the crunch to counterpoint the mush of the beans.
Edamame, Corn & Nori Salad
This salad leans towards an asian flavor. I add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar to the vinaigrette made with rice vinegar. I like to saute fresh corn cut from the cob in a little vegetable oil till tender. The nori comes in sheets and I fold them up and cut into ribbons. The edamame I used was frozen and briefly refreshed in boiling water.
To finish the salad I squeeze fresh lime juice and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds or Japanese rice seasoning if I have any on hand (I did!)
Classic Tabouleh Salad
The classics are classic for a reason. Sometimes you can't improve on what is already perfect. This salad is especially welcome when the mint starts taking over the garden.
Bulgar wheat is brought to life by a simple soak in hot water. Add lots of chopped tomato, fresh squeezed lemon juice and good olive oil.
Chopped Vegetable Salad
This one is so obvious, but gets no respect. It is perfect when you have to feed a bunch of kids. The can each pick out the vegetables they don't like. Dress it at the last minute with your favorite vinaigrette, but don't stress if it sits for a while and starts to pickle a bit- yum!
The idea is to cut the vegetables into large colorful pieces to entice the vegetable averse to take a bite.
Have a wonderful fourth of July holiday weekend!