I love summer meals. A simply grilled piece of chicken, meat or fish accompanied by an easy salad make the perfect dinner. These two easy summer salads, featuring fresh, colorful ingredients, are great additions to any BBQ or al fresco gathering. And best of all, they can be made ahead of time, so you’re not spending tons of time in the kitchen away from your guests or family.
String Beans & Tomato Salad: My mother recently made this salad for my family, and we all devoured it. My husband is not normally a fan of green beans or tomatoes, but somehow in this instance all the flavors come together, and it just works. He even asked her to make it a second time in just a week.
- 2 shallots
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1tbs Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded basil
- 1 1/2 lbs green beans
- 3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
Macerate 2 thinly sliced shallots in 1/4 cup red wine vinegar for at least 2 hours. (Macerate was a new word for me. It means to become softened by soaking in a liquid.)
Whisk in 1 tbs. Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Just before serving, put in 1/2 cup finely shredded basil.
Blanch 1 and 1/2 lbs. green beans. Let Cool.
Chop 3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes.
Just before serving, mix half the dressing in beans, half in tomatoes.
Mix everything or put dressed beans around a platter and mound tomatoes in center.
Panzanella Salad: I love this salad for the combination of flavors and how the bread soaks in this delicious vinaigrette. I also love how flexible you can be with the ingredients. I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe as my base and then adapt it to suit my family’s taste (I eliminate the red pepper and capers and add in avocado).
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.