Cucumber Salad

This salad is prepared so quickly and is so very refreshing.  It’s delicate flavor comes from the simplicity of the ingredients.  Using a cheese plane or other slicer, shave the cucumber (I prefer the ‘seedless’ type) down the sides to remove most but not all of the rind.  Then shave the entire cucumber in thin slices into a bow.  Sprinkle with approx. 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over about 1/4 – 1/3 cup red wine vinegar.  Mix lightly. Sprinkle with some fresh dill if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

French Potato Salad

3 pounds small yellow dutch potatoes

1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin lengthwise (cut onion in half on the ring side, then lay flat and cut into thin “wedges”)

1 1/2 tbsp. capers

3 hard boiled eggs, cooled, peeled and rough chopped

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. herbs de provence

2 – 3 sprigs fresh thyme chopped

coarse salt

Cook potatoes until tender, cut in halves and allow to cool.  Add the onion and eggs and capers.  Whisk the vinegar, mustard and olive oil together, add the herbs de provence.  Mix into the potatoes.  Fold in the fresh thyme and season with coarse salt.  Chill and serve immediately.

Greek Salad

My husband and I honeymooned in the Greek Isles.  The freshness of the food remains one of my fondest memories.  This traditional salad was served in bowls, tomatoes still warm from the sun and a thick slice of feta on top.  The key to this simple salad is to have the freshest ingredients.  I’m not putting down actual measurements because you can change the quantities as you desire.

Cucumber, sliced or cubed

Tomatoes, sliced or cut in wedges

Feta cheese

Fresh mint, chopped coursely

High quality extra virgin olive oil

Course ground sea salt

This is simply a layered salad.  Start with the cucumbers then tomatoes, etc.  Sprinkle the mint over the salad, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.  Serve at room temperature.  You can also toss on some olives, preferable a greek mix.

Caprese Salad

Of course, this is such a classic dish.  Admittedly it is super easy.  However I add it here because I feel that to get the ultimate result for this you need absolutely the freshest of ingredients.  I use basil straight from the garden and cut it on top shortly before I serve to preserve the flavor and to keep it from discoloring.  Use home-grown, or the best beefsteak tomatoes you can find and naturally, fresh mozzarella.  Extra virgin olive oil is a must.  I have also drizzled a small abount of reduced balsamic over the salad in the past for another twist.

Dill Potato Salad

This is a recipe from my sister-in-law.  We tried it once and it has become a go-to dish for summer.  Just 3 ingredients – yes, just 3.  My measurements are “general” because you can customize the quantity to your needs.

Small potatoes – preferably red or golden.  Cut in half, boiled with peel on.  Set aside to cool.  When cooled, mix in sour cream and fresh (must be fresh to get the best flavor) finely chopped dill.  Combine and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

Macaroni Salad

Summer isn’t summer without an old-fashioned traditional macaroni salad.  My mother-in-law used to make this and I just loved it.  Just the right dish to serve with hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs….can you say ‘cookout’?

1 16 oz. box of small sized pasta (rings, elbows, small shells, penne)

1/3 of a full stalk of celery, chop from the top down in 1/4 inch size (you want the leafy parts)

3 eggs hard boiled, peeled and rough chopped

1 cup frozen peas – flash boiled, drained and cooled

1/2 sweet onion chopped

1/2 green pepper chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

small bunch of fresh chives, chopped

1 cup of mayonnaise*

milk to thin – if needed

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients, except the mayonnaise in a large bowl.  When the pasta is completely cooled mix in with the vegetables and add the mayonnaise.  If the consistency is too ‘thick’, you can thin by adding a little milk – approx. 1/3 cup to your preference.  This works especially well, if you are serving the next day and the pasta has absorbed some of the moisture of the mayonnaise.  Cool thoroughly.  Enjoy!

*If you prefer not to use as much mayonnaise, I have cut the mayo in half and added sour cream in the past to just as good results.  Remember to keep this dish cool on hot days.

The Best Chicken Salad!

A friend of mine used to have a terrific ladies get-together mid-morning, mid-winter.  The perfect way to get out, mingle and have a little fun and then still go about your day.  She always served a fabulous chicken salad on small tea-sized sandwiches…yum.  Needless to say, I beat her down until she gave up the recipe.  I have tweaked it here and there to make it my own, but it is still just as fabulous.  I think you’ll agree.

2 – 3 lbs. cooked chicken breast.   Chopped into large pieces

Celery – I like to keep the entire stalk whole, cut off the top 1/2 inch and throw away.  Chop starting from the top where the greens are and rough chop about 3/4 cups worth.

1/2 Cup finely chopped sweet onion

Fresh chives – about 2 – 3 tbsp.

Fresh rosemary – chopped about 2 tbsp.

1/3 Cup sliced almonds

1/4 Cup sweetened dried cranberries


3/4 cup mayonnaise

3 – 4 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. lemon juice

Mix the salad ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together until blended.  Pour over the chicken and toss well.  Finish with fresh ground sea salt and pepper.  Chill.

Black Bean Salad

Now that the warmer weather has arrived, I love coming up with salads with fresh ingredients that are easily transported to outdoor tables as well as outdoor events.  Here is a salad that is simple to make ahead and keeps for several days.

Three cans black beans, rinsed

1/2 green bell pepper chopped

1/2 red bell pepper chopped

fresh corn from two cooked cobs – cut off

1/2 medium sized sweet onion – chopped

small bunch of fresh cilantro, rinsed well and finely chopped

1 medium clove garlic – crushed

juice from 3 limes

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and allow to ‘marinate’ for a few hours to blend flavors.  Serve chilled.

Lentil Salad

4 – 5 cups cooked lentils (I used canned lentils)

1 clove fresh garlic, crushed

1/3 cup chopped roasted red pepper

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint (dried can be substituted)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, allow to marinate for a few hours to develop taste.  If using canned lentils, be sure to drain and rinse first.

Quick Black Bean Soup

This recipe calls for using canned black beans, eliminating the soaking of dried beans step.  Easy to make at any moment.

4 cans black beans

1 can chicken broth

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. each, cumin and chili powder

Drain and rinse one of the cans of black beans.  Add to a medium saucepan along with the remaining unrinsed beans and all ingredients.  Bring to a slow boil.  Turn to medium heat and allow to cook on a low boil for 45 minutes.  Serve with optional sides such as, chopped avocado and sour cream.