Just because summer is technically over, doesn’t mean the gatherings stop! I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to find myself at more get-togethers, potlucks and parties in the fall. My family is filled with food-lovers, and we’ve definitely acquired a few “blue ribbon” salads that have become our most-requested dishes. Here’s our starting lineup—I’d love to hear if you guys try any of these out! They’re winners for sure.
Tomato and Cucumber Panzanella
I’d say this is the newest addition to our favorites. I whipped up my favorite panzanella recipe early on this summer and I swear, I’ve never gotten more compliments on anything in my life—that baby flew off the picnic table! I actually posted the recipe a few years ago here, but I’ve since perfected it a bit more and made a few tweaks. This is obviously best with the amazing ripe tomatoes of summer, but really it can stand on its own all-year-’round.
You’ll need (serves 6-8):
- One loaf of Italian bread, cubed
- 6-7 large tomatoes, cubed
- 2 large cucumbers, cubed
- Olive oil
- Balsamic drizzle (I actually really love Rachel Ray’s version. I buy it from the grocery store, but you can also make your own with her recipe!)
- 10-12 leaves of fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Coat the base of a large skillet with a generous amount of olive oil (I mean it when I say generous—the bread will soak up a ton of it!). Sautee about a tablespoon of chopped garlic in the skillet on low until fragrant. Add the cubed bread and toss with a spoon immediately so it soaks up the oil fairly evenly. Increase the heat to medium and keep an eye on it, tossing occasionally, until the bread chunks are charred and browned. You can add more olive oil if it’s seeming a bit dry, but you don’t want them to become soggy!
In a bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, cucumber, chopped basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes so the flavors combine. Tip: if your tomatoes are super juicy, keep an eye on how much liquid pools in the bottom of your bowl. A little is ok (the bread will soak it up and be even more delicious!) but a lot will lead to sad soggy bread.
Right before serving, add the toasted bread to the bowl of veggies. Top with a generous drizzle of balsamic reduction and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
The Damn Salad
Ok, obviously the name of this salad isn’t actually “The Damn Salad.” If I were a betting woman, I’d say it’s probably “Ramen Noodle Salad” or some such. But it has come to be known as the Damn Salad in our family—mostly because we requested it for family parties from my Auntie Lina so much that she just started saying, “You want me to make that damn SALAD again?!” Well, it stuck. As did the recipe. It’s really that good.
You’ll need (serves 8-10):
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 three-ounce packages of beef ramen noodles (with flavor packet), uncooked and coarsely broken
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
2-3 heads of romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
3/4 cup oil (you can use olive oil, canola oil or a combination of both)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Sautee the noodles, flavor packets, pecans and butter together until golden brown. In a bowl, combine the romaine lettuce and broccoli, tossing with the noodles and nuts once they’ve cooled. Top with dressing (made by combining the olive/canola oil, sugar, white wine vinegar and soy sauce). Serve immediately.
Is there even a better invention than tacos in salad form? I’m prettttyyyy sure no, but feel free to jump in if you feel differently. This is definitely a “treat” salad (aka definitely has as many calories as, say, a burger), but would be a hit on football Sunday. I’m sure of it.
- One pound of ground beef
- One package of taco seasoning
- One bag of original Doritos, broken up
- One head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
- One package of cheddar cheese
- One can of olives
- One can of kidney beans
- 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
- One bottle of French dressing (the orange kind)
In a pan, cook the ground beef with the taco seasoning. Set aside. In a bowl combine the lettuce, cheese, beans, olives and tomatoes. Once you’re ready to serve, top the salad with the ground beef and broken Doritos. Toss the whole bowl with the french dressing and serve immediately.