Who wants to spend time at the stove when it's hot outside and there are so many fun things to get busy with? Come summer, I happily take a bit of a step back from the typical dinner fare we know and love throughout the rest of the year and cook more "picnic" style around here. Healthy and filling salads become a go-to for me, as I'd much rather eek out more time at the beach with the girls, go on a picnic to any of the array of summer movies and outdoor concerts in the area, have fun out on our bikes, or let myself get totally engrossed in a great book. I especially love it when a salad is hearty enough to stand up over night in the refridgerator - we are not afraid of leftovers around here. Here's a sneak peak at my summer salad line up; variations on a Cobb Salad, must try this Mango and Red Pepper Salad, this Bok Choy Slaw, any sort of cold Rice Noodle Salad with a ginger dressing and slivered veggies, this Fennel Salad is calling me to try out, as is this simple Green Salad With Cherries, this Quinoa Salad is a favorite, a simple green salad loaded with nuts, beans or chicken, and all those little bits of veg needing to get used up, salsa (can we call salsa a salad?), and this Corn Salad looks like it would be a perfect picnic salad along side some sliced meats and cheese. Last night we feasted on a cold rotisserie chicken, spinach topped with this Garbanzo Salad, and some left over chips and salsa (my oldest is our in-house salsa maker and we happily reap the benefits of such).
Yesterday my youngest came up with a new creation for lunch that I am sure will make a repeat visit as she happily exclaimed she'd take it to school for lunch any time. She sautéed up a sliced zucchini in olive oil then added some chopped up roasted red pepper, a few cherry tomatoes from the garden and bits of leftover chicken, then she topped it with a few shavings of parmesan cheese. Even my mostly vegetarian daughter enjoyed it. We ate it warm as is, but I think it could be great cold with your favorite pasta as a salad or atop some fresh summer greens. What I really loved about it was that she took a recipe of interest and shifted it to suit what we had on hand and our own personal tastes. As a parent, one of my personal goals has always been to build a sense of competency in my girls around preparing good food for themselves. I want them to have the ability to walk into the kitchen, scope the scene and make something tasty and relatively healthful for themselves. I think we are on our way as the oldest has become my go-to condiment maker (salsa, pesto, guacamole etc...) and has really started developing an interest in baking and now the younger one is building confidence and skills too, she did not shy away from the huge knife I handed her to chop veggies and meat with yesterday. Though I can't lie, I'd be tickled pink if they found the joy and sense of creative outlet in the kitchen that I do, mostly I want them to be able to feed themselves and those around them well without a box of this or that or a phone to call for delivery.
Well, back to those summer salads, do you change up your typical dinner routines this time of year too? If so what are your favorite summer salads? I'd love to hear what you all are living off this summer, I am sure there are so many possibilities that I haven't even thought of yet.