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Six Simple Summer Salads and More
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 76653 times

by Lori Ross

Photo: Lori Ross

Summer is upon us and ‘tis the season for entertaining on your boat! Entertaining is challenging enough ashore, but on a boat, organization, planning and make ahead dishes are critical! With the abundance of fresh vegetables at farm stands and markets, it’s easy to make simple delicious salads ahead of time. I plan to use these regularly on the boat this summer!

Mushroom salad

This salad is great with grilled meats and very flexible. If you can’t get fresh mushrooms, try this with canned button mushrooms (just drain and rinse). I like adding sliced red peppers, black olives, hard boiled egg slices or a little Swiss cheese to this salad.

1 lb fresh mushrooms (any kind)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar or other vinegar such as: sherry vinegar, raspberry vinegar, balsamic or Japanese rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp capers
Pinch of hot paprika, cayenne pepper or piment d'esplet (from Basque region)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large head butter, Boston or romaine lettuce
1 tbsp fresh chives, thyme, rosemary, parsley or cilantro chopped (or use a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs or herbs de Provence)

Wash, slice and marinate mushrooms in oil, vinegar, capers and spices for one or two hours in refrigerator (or marinate 30 minutes at room temperature). Arrange cleaned lettuce on a plate and mound marinated mushrooms on top of lettuce. Garnish with fresh herbs

Sugar Snap and Snow Pea Salad

This dressing is tangy and offers a sharp counterpoint to the sweetness of the peas. Pea shoots are the leaves from green pea plants and they taste mildly sweet and have the texture of a delicate lettuce. If you can find pea shoots, try them in this salad.

1 cup sugars snap peas
1 cup snow peas
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen and thawed)
6 cups pea shoots (optional)

1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Asian sesame oil
11/2 tbsps light brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce

Boil snap peas for two minute and cook snow peas and green peas one minute then drain and rinse in ice water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Mix dressing ingredients until sugar dissolves and toss with peas and pea shoots (if using). You can replace pea shoots with mesclun, mache or other small, sweet lettuce.

Coleslaw with Fresh Lavender Dressing

Coleslaw becomes an elegant first course with this sophisticated salad dressing. While you don't need to use lavender, it makes a simple slaw a special gourmet treat. In place of lavender, try an equal amount of fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme, basil, oregano or rosemary.

6 cups shredded cabbage

Or a blend of:
3 cups shredded cabbage (a mix of purple and white is nice)
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup thin-sliced onion (purple is pretty)

2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 fresh lavender sprigs (or use a tablespoon of pesticide-free edible dried lavender flowers)

Combine, oil, vinegar, sugar and lavender in food processor or blender for 30 seconds or mix by hand using chopped fresh lavender. Toss coleslaw with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Top with a few lavender sprigs or flowers, if available.

Herb Slaw: Replace lavender with 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram or oregano.
Orange Slaw: Replace lavender with 1 tbsp fresh grated orange peel (or 2 teaspoons dried, grated orange peel)
Rose Petal Slaw: Replace lavender with 2 tbsp rosewater and 6 pesticide free rose petals (to decorate slaw)

Radish Salad

I love radishes any time of year, but in early summer they taste the sweetest and make a wonderful salad.

12-18 radishes washed and sliced thin
6 scallions washed and sliced thin

2 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Combine radishes and scallions in a bowl and toss with dressing.

Celery Salad

Celery and blue cheese are delightful partners in this crisp, tangy salad. Try this salad with Swiss cheese if blue cheese is not to your taste.

2 cups sliced celery
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tarragon or other white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh tarragon or chives (optional)

Mix oil, vinegar or lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss with celery and blue cheese. Garnish with fresh tarragon or chives.

Corn Salad

Unlike spicy, complex corn salads, this one is simple, sweet and comforting and it is tasty warm or cool.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small diced red onion or two medium shallots
4 cups corn kernels cut from fresh ears of corn (or canned or frozen corn works too)
1/4 tspn salt and pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is hot, add red onion or shallots and sauté until soft. Add corn, salt, pepper, sugar and red onion to pan and sauté on medium for 5-10 minutes, until the corn and onions are caramelized and turning brown. Remove from heat, and stir in chopped scallions and thyme. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Spices from the Souk: Sumac, Zatar and Dukkah

Over a decade of travel to Spain, Gibraltar, Italy and Israel, I have collected recipes for some unusual and exotic spice combinations that have found their way into my regular entertaining repertoire. Their flavors are a surprise and a delight to the palate -- lemony, smoky, nutty, sweet and piquant – adding depth to everyday dishes and yielding compliments from my guests.


In the Mediterranean and Middle East, a tart and tasty spice called sumac is derived from the berry of a bush that grows wild in poor soils especially in the Middle East and parts of Italy. The brick-red fruits are sold as whole berries or, more commonly, dried and crushed to form a coarse purple-red powder. Sumac has a fruity-tart flavor which is not quite as overpowering as lemon. Try substituting in any dish on which you might squeeze fresh lemon juice.

Serves 4-6

Meaning “moistened bread” Fattoush (pronounced "fadash”) is a peasant salad of Lebanese/Syrian origin made tart and lively by the addition of sumac to its oil and lemon juice dressing.
2 cups romaine, sliced
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, small dice
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 to 2 tsps sumac (to taste)
2/3 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (optional)
2 pieces of pita bread toasted until golden brown, broken into pieces the size of a quarter

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper

In a small bowl mix all dressing ingredients well. Toast pita and break into chips. Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with 1/2 to 1 cup dressing. Add pita bread at the last minute and toss again. Serve immediately (so the pita bread won’t get too soggy!)


Zatar (rhymes with batter), also spelled za’atar, z’atar, zattar or zahatar, is a mixture of herbs and spices used as a condiment and flavoring in the Middle East. The name refers to the Arabic word for the herb used as the main ingredient (wild thyme) mixed with toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. Some varieties may use marjoram, oregano, savory, cumin, coriander or fennel seed. Zatar should taste lemony, nutty, fruity, sweet and smoky.

Zatar Seasoning
Makes 24 teaspoons
3 tbsps sesame seeds
1 tbsps lemon zest, finely grated or equal amount of dried lemon zest
4 tsps dried thyme or savory
2 tsps dried marjoram or oregano
2 tsps sumac
1 tsp cumin, coriander or fennel seed (optional)

Dry roast the sesame seeds and lemon zest in a heavy pan over a low heat for about 6 minutes or until the seeds darken and become fragrant and the zest dries out. Mix all ingredients in small container with a lid and shake or, grind ingredients in spice grinder for finer spice mixture. Keep in a sealed jar in a cool, dark and dry place for up to 2 months.

Zatar Bread
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps Zatar
2 large pita rounds (8" in diameter) or 4 small ones

Preheat the oven to 400°F or set grill to medium-high.
Combine the olive oil and Zatar in a small bowl, stirring well. Cut the pitas open and gently separate the two layers. Spread mixture inside pitas and cut into wedges, arranging in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 4 or 5 minutes, until the wedges start to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Zatar Vegetable Dip
Sprinkle 1 tbspn Zatar over 1 cup of plain thick Greek or Lebanese yogurt (or drain plain yogurt through cheesecloth for several hours) or 1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream and use as a vegetable dip.

Zatar Bruschetta
1 tbsps Zatar
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half or 2-3 medium tomatoes sliced
Sprinkle with one Tablespoon of the Zatar; toss well. Taste and add more seasoning to taste. Serve immediately, encouraging diners to place tomatoes on fresh bread.


Pronounced (Dok-ka), Dukkah is a blend of toasted nuts, seeds and spices of Egyptian origin. As with sumac, Dukkah may be used as a unique dip or topping for bread or a flavoring for salad, rice, pasta, vegetables or a coating for fish and chicken. Give a gift of a jar of Dukkah to friends!

Dukkah Seasoning Recipe
Makes 5 cups

1 cup sesame seeds
2 cups coriander seeds
2/3 cup blanched hazelnuts, pistachios or almonds (or a mixture of two or three)
1/2 cup cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and roast each type of seed/nut for 10-20 minutes until they just begin to brown. Take out each as it is ready. Alternatively, you may toast them in a large dry frying pan, stirring constantly.

Place toasted nuts and seeds in a food processor with salt and pepper and grind until finely crushed, but not a paste. Dukkah should be a crushed dry mixture. Add more salt to taste. There are endless variations of this basic recipe that use more nuts to fewer spices or add crushed red pepper and garlic powder, so experiment until you find the proportion you like best.

Dukkah Bread Dip
Place ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup Dukkah in two small shallow bowls. Dip fresh pita, flatbread, foccacia or naan in olive oil and then dip into the nut mixture.

Roasted Vegetables with Dukkah
6 cups cauliflower or broccoli
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tsp salt to taste
2 tbsps Dukkah

Preheat oven to 400F. Trim cauliflower or broccoli into florets and toss with oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes until top edges are golden brown. Season with salt. Just before serving, sprinkle with Dukkah.

Whole Foods Stores often carry Sumac.

Online sources for sumac and zatar include:

Caribbean Sandwiches, Salads & Sides

12-inch loaf Cuban bread, split lengthwise
1/4 lb. thinly sliced ham
1/4 lb. thinly sliced cooked pork roast (see recipe above)
3-5 slices Swiss cheese
5-10 pickle slices
Mustard and mayonnaise

Spread mustard and mayonnaise on insides of the split loaf. Add layers of ham, roast pork, and cheese. Top with sliced pickles. Heat both sides of the sandwich on a grill or in a panini press. You can also fry it in a pan on the stovetop (like you’d cook a grilled cheese sandwich), weighting the top with a plate and turning once. Serve hot or warm.

This is the basic recipe for raw conch salad, should you find yourself with fresh conch. It is also delicious when made with any raw or cooked fish or scallops.

1/4 cup lime, lemon, or sour orange juice
1 T. grated lime, lemon, or orange peel
1/2 tsp minced hot pepper (jalapeño, habanero, or other hot pepper)
1/2 cup chopped onion or scallion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lb. fresh raw (or cooked, if you prefer) conch, scallops, salmon, tuna, whitefish, or shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except seafood in a mixing bowl and blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Add seafood and let marinate 30 minutes in fridge, then serve.

2 tbsp chopped green pepper
1/2 cup diced apple
1 tsp each salt and sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
3 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
3 slices pineapple, chopped

Combine all ingredients and serve.

1 large cucumber
1 tsp seeded chili peppers, minced
1 cup white vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and slice it into moon-shaped, 1/3-inch-thick pieces. Place it in a bowl along with the chili peppers. Mix vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour onto cucumber mixture, chill, and serve

Parsley, Mint and Cilantro Salad
1/2 large chopped onion (red is pretty but all I had was vidalia)
2 cups chopped parsley leaves
1 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cliantro leaves

2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemons (below)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 scallions chopped
pepper and salt to taste

Here's how to make preserved lemons:
4 large (about 6 ounces each) lemons (preferably thin-skinned), scrubbed
2/3 cup coarse salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 5 large lemons)
olive oil

Seven-Day Preserved Lemons:
Dry lemons well and cut each into 8 wedges. In a bowl toss wedges with salt and transfer to a glass jar (about 6-cup capacity). Add lemon juice and cover jar with a tight-fitting glass lid or plastic-coated lid. Let lemons stand at room temperature 7 days, shaking jar each day to redistribute salt and juice. Add oil to cover lemons and store, covered and chilled, up to 6 months. Makes 4 preserved lemons.

Tags:Salad  Spices  

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