Less Cooking, More Delightful Dining

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Summery Entree Salads

Hot weather makes the kitchen more about the fridge than the range, and it’s fun to see how many meals we can enjoy without turning on the stove. To make cold meals more satisfying, I soak grains overnight, then cook them in the early morning, before the day heats up. Presoaking grains makes them more easily digested, so it’s a good habit to develop in any season. By relying heavily on the garden, it’s easy to make memorable meals that are vegetarian and so tasty that you don’t need to mention it. A few simple substitutions can even make them vegan, again with no loss of flavor, texture, or beauty.

A Beautiful Beet Salad

This is a very pretty dish, brightly colored by raw ruby red beets, though you can also make it with yellow ones, which taste just as sweet and delicious. Wear an apron that covers your shirt, though, as the beet juice stains for life! You can change up the herbs as well, since all work well despite very different flavors. Ripe raspberries add a surprising sweet-tart note, but you can use blueberries or even raw corn kernels instead. Vegan coconut yogurt brings a velvety richness to the mix, as will Greek style plain yogurt.

Raw Beet And Quinoa Salad With Raspberries

2-3 small beets (about a pound)
1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup stemmed cilantro, basil, or parsley
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
2 cups cooked quinoa (any kind)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup raspberries, blueberries, or raw corn
1/4 cup plain coconut yogurt or Greek style yogurt

Peel and chop beets, then pulse them in a food processor until coarsely shredded (not pureed). Add garlic, herbs, and oil and process for a couple of seconds. Transfer to a bowl, add quinoa and season to taste with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Toss gently with green onions and fruit or corn and serve at room temperature, garnished with a scoop of yogurt. Serves four.

Crispy, Crunchy, Chewy

Barley has a chewy texture that adds pleasing contrast to this crisp blend of fresh fruit and vegetables. Creamy chickpeas and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds add extra protein, the watermelon comes as a sweet surprise, and a generous splash of lime juice brings it all to lively life.

Crunchy Summer Salad

1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup thinly & diagonally sliced celery
4 thinly sliced radishes
4 thinly sliced green onions
2 cups cooked barley
1-1/2 cups cooked chick peas
1 red or orange sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced snap peas in pods
1 cup chopped watermelon
1/4 cup shredded basil OR stemmed cilantro
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
2 organic limes, juiced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch smoked paprika

Combine everything in a serving bowl, seasoning to taste with lime juice, salt and paprika. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

Summery Taco Salad

This hearty, satisfying salad can be as mild or spicy as you like, depending on the salsa you use for dressing. I like to use short grain brown or black rice in this, but any kind will taste fine. Thick, chewy yellow corn tortillas make terrific spoons, but any type will work; just use your toaster oven to keep the kitchen cool. Add soft goat cheese if you like a little creaminess for contrast.

Gardenly Taco Salad

2 cups shredded Romaine
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 ears sweet corn, kernels trimmed
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups cooked rice (brown, black, or any)
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup stemmed cilantro
4 yellow corn tortillas, toasted and quartered
1 lime, quartered

Combine all but the tortillas and lime in a serving bowl and let stand 10 minutes to meld before serving. Serve with toasted tortilla wedges and fresh lime wedges. Serves four.

Stay cool!

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