After exploring the Emperor of Salads recently, you might conclude any other salad recipe I offer up is just a Caesar wannabe.
But don’t think for one second that these are poor substitutes — each is delectable in its own right and will dress up your summer supper table beautifully.
Mandarin Pork Spinach Salad
The flavours here are classic, making this a perfect light supper on a hot day, and you talk about a great way to use up a leftover barbecued pork chop!
Naturally, you can substitute chicken if you like, or even steak.
Leave out the meat altogether and prepare this as a first course that will complement beautifully any menu you can concoct.
By the way, this is a super-light dish with no fat except what’s in the pork and almonds, and will serve about 6.
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 large, thick well-seasoned pork chop, grilled or fried, cooled and cut into thin strips
1 large bag baby spinach
1 small can mandarin orange sections
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved or left whole, as you prefer
1/4 cup reserved mandarin juice
2 tbsp. each honey and Dijon mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toast almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant. Toss with remaining salad ingredients. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad; stir and serve.
BBQ Chicken Salad
This is a composed rather than tossed salad, allowing the beauty of each ingredient to shine.
Pour the dressing on top just before serving to 6.
1 large bag mixed salad greens
2 breasts from a barbecued, baked or rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 14-oz. can corn kernels, well drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and well drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 avocadoes, pitted, peeled and sliced (optional)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup chicken and rib barbecue sauce
few shakes hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange lettuce on a large serving platter. Cover almost to the edge with chicken slices. Scatter tomatoes, corn, beans and cheese over everything. Layer on avocado slices at the last minute.
Whisk together ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper and drizzle over top of salad. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Thai Style Shrimp and Rice Noodle Summer Salad
Substitute any pasta you like in this recipe, but there’s something fresher about rice noodles in the summer.
If you start with raw shrimp, this salad takes on holiday status, but I admit the frozen cooked ones are almost as good. Don’t waste your time on the little cocktail shrimp, however — you will be disappointed.
The fish sauce in this recipe is important to the authenticity of the Thai flavour. If you’ve never tried it, you can buy it now in the imported foods section of your local grocery store.
If you like the shrimp tails left on, then do so for added pizzazz, but I prefer to eat this one with chopsticks or a fork rather than my fingers and I can’t be bothered with dealing with the little shells — up to you.
Thai chili sauce can be found in most grocery stores. If you have a choice between hot and sweet, pick what you think you will use most in your cooking, but if you select sweet consider adding a few drops of hot pepper sauce to the dressing.
If you can’t find fresh cilantro, then Italian flat-leaf parsley is an acceptable substitute, but you won’t quite get that distinctive taste.
This salad will serve 4 as a complete meal.
1 package (10 to 14 oz.) rice noodles
1 lb. fresh or frozen and thawed cooked shrimp, peeled
1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup each snow peas and bean sprouts, washed and well drained
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into small wedges
1/2 medium English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, washed, well drained and torn into pieces
1/2 cup toasted whole unsalted cashews or peanuts
1/4 cup fish sauce
juice and grated rind of 3 limes (about 1/3 cup juice)
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Thai hot chili sauce (or hot pepper sauce)
few drops sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small fresh red chili pepper, minced (optional)
Prepare noodles according to package instructions, drain thoroughly and toss with everything except nuts.
For dressing, whisk together fish sauce, lime juice and rind, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce and sesame oil until sugar is completely dissolved.
The dressing will taste quite tart and salty, but the flavour becomes muted when combined with the other ingredients.
Stir in garlic and chili pepper and pour over noodle mixture. Lots of stirring needed here, along with a bit of arranging, to distribute the shrimp among the noodles.
Sprinkle cashews on top just before serving.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.