Can do! Salads get a convenient head start

11 May Can do! Salads get a convenient head start

 

While doing research for a grilling story last summer, I happily perused the newly released barbecue books at Barnes & Noble and stumbled upon “A Man, A Can, A Grill: 50 No-Sweat Meals You Can Fire Up Fast” by David Joachim.

Admittedly, the title alone made me laugh out loud. But I did take the time to flip through the pages. And by the time I had reached the last one, I had gained a new appreciation for the appeal of the open-a­can- and-go cooking strategy, depending, of course, on what’s in the can.

Because most canned foods today are processed rather quickly, the fear of them lack­ing nutritional value is mostly unfounded. That said, as with all packaged foods, it’s wise to be a label-reader so you know exactly what you’re getting before you buy.

Convenience-wise, you just can’t go wrong with canned foods. When the only cooking utensils used to toss together a tasty salad are the trusty can opener, a mixing bowl and a spoon, both prep-time and clean-up duty are simplified.

Heading into the hot months of summer, there are sure to be days when firing up the oven just isn’t fun, and it’s always nice to have a few really simple no-cooking-required recipes in your repertoire. With a plethora of packaged protein options like salmon, chicken breast, shrimp and crabmeat already cooked, canned and on the grocery shelf, assembling an entree salad seems like a super summer solution.

A long-awaited and well­-deserved summer is right around the corner, and with that comes a lengthy list of leisurely outdoor entertaining opportunities.

Each of these versatile recipes can be assembled quickly and then used either as a side salad or as an appe­tizer accompaniment with baguette slices, chips or crackers. Anything that does double duty is a winner in my book, especially if you’re headed out of town for a weekend getaway and want to contribute something. Get out the dependable can opener, mix up a quick and delicious salad, and you are on your way.

With high hopes for hot, sunny days on the horizon, I give you my Special of the Day: Can-Do Salads with recipes for Italian Antipasto Salad, Asian Chicken Salad and Mexican Fiesta Salad. 

Italian Antipasto Salad

ITALIAN ANTIPASTO SALAD

Salad:
» 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
» 4 slices hard salami, cut into bite-sized thin strips
» ½ cup fresh mozzarella, diced
» 10-ounce jar marinated mushrooms, drained
» ½ cup roasted red pepper, drained and diced
» ¼ cup (packed) fresh basil, minced
Dressing:
 » 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
» 2 tbsp. olive oil
» 1 clove garlic, minced
» Salt and freshly ground pep­per, to taste
Combine all salad ingredi­ents in medium bowl and toss.
Combine dressing ingredi­ents in small jar. Cover and shake until thoroughly com­bined.
Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss until dressing is incorporated.
Serve as a side salad in small serving dishes or with thin baguette slices as an appetizer. Serves six as a side salad or appetizer.
 
Asian Chicken Salad
ASIAN CHICKEN SALAD
Dressing:
» 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
» 2 tbsp. sesame oil
» ¼ tsp. ground ginger
» 1 tbsp. soy sauce
» ½ tsp. honey
» 1 tsp. hot chili garlic sauce (Asian foods aisle), or more if you like spicy
Salad:
» ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
» ¾ cup sugar snap peas, cut in half diagonally
» 1 red bell pepper, diced
» 12.5-ounce can premium chicken breast in water, drained
» 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
» 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (Asian foods aisle)
» ¾ cup peanuts, optional
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all dressing ingredi­ents and whisk until slightly thickened.
Add salad ingredients and toss to mix.
Serve with rice thin snack crackers (organic foods sec­tion) or on crackers as an appetizer.
Serves six as a side salad or appetizer.

Mexican Fiesta Salad

MEXICAN FIESTA SALAD
Salad:
» 15-ounce can black beans, drained
» 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

» 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
» 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pit­ted and diced
» ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
Dressing:
» Juice of two limes
» 2 tbsp. cooking oil
» ¼ tsp. chili powder, or more, to taste
» Salt, to taste
Combine all salad ingredi­ents in medium bowl and toss.
Combine dressing ingredi­ents in small jar. Cover and shake until thoroughly com­bined.
Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss until dressing is incorporated.
Serves eight as a side salad in small serving dishes or with chips as an appetizer.
Sydne George is a food jour­nalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hot­mail.com.
 


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