Punch up summer dinner salads with fruit, protein - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Punch up summer dinner salads with fruit, protein

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Posted: Friday, April 20, 2007 1:09 pm | Updated: 6:59 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When it gets really hot in the East Valley, the last thing most people want to do is turn on the oven to create a great meal for guests. Cooking instructor Judy Toth of Simply Impressive in Mesa says you don’t have to.

When it gets really hot in the East Valley, the last thing most people want to do is turn on the oven to create a great meal for guests.

Cooking instructor Judy Toth of Simply Impressive in Mesa says you don’t have to.

One of her favorite meals to create is as easy as assessing what leftovers and pantry items you have around the house and tossing together a hearty salad.

“I love salads,” she says. “We do dinner salads a lot as a meal. In the summer, my oven doesn’t even get turned on.”

Toth says there are many ways to turn a salad into a meal fit for entertaining, but the first step is including some type of protein.

“Very few people are full off lettuce and tomato,” she says.

She often picks up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, throws a London broil on the grill or cooks salmon to top her salads.

“Salmon is wonderful with bitter leaves,” she says. “Add some cucumbers, dill, and a creamy dressing with mayonnaise, salt and pepper. It’s that simple. You don’t even need a recipe.”

She also uses fruit in her summer salads, including pears, apples and oranges.

“Look at the things you think taste good together and throw them in a salad,” she says.

A surefire way to impress guests is to throw out bottled dressing and make your own fresh version. A basic vinaigrette is as easy as mixing three parts oil to one part acid.

Toth shared with us three ideas for making homemade dressings for your next salad supper.

(From left) This pressed bamboo serving bowl ($32.95) from Crate and Barrel is lightweight with a smooth finish, making it great for dining al fresco. Matching individual bowls are $9.95 each. Available in stores or online at www.crateandbarrel.com. The Misto Paisley Dinnerware serving bowl ($19.99) and individual bowls ($6.99) are dishwasher and microwave safe, so they’re perfect for everyday dining. In Bed, Bath and Beyond stores and online at www.bedbathandbeyond.com. Salad-on-Ice ($24.99) has a compartment under the bowl for storing ice to keep things cool and crisp (it also allows water to drain, keeping your salad from getting soggy). The set comes with acrylic tongs and a lid. We’ve paired it with individual glass bowls, $2.99 each, all from Bed, Bath and Beyond. In stores and online at www.bedbathandbeyond.com. A pewter serving bowl ($75) with hand-painted handles and pearl detail is paired with a coordinating polka dot salad plate by All You Can Handle ($25) for a whimsical entertaining option. From Two Plates Full, 6166 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 402, Scottsdale. (Lisa Olson, Tribune)

Pear dressing

Yield: 1 cup

6 ounces pear nectar (Libby brand is best)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

A dash garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon minced onions (dried is fine)

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Cook’s note: Toth says this dressing is great for a salad that includes fresh fruit.

Procedure: Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl using a wire whisk. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

Yield: 1 cup

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

3/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedure: Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Yield: 1 cup

1 cup Ranch Dressing

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon lime juice

Procedure: Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

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