13 August 2006

Mid-day munching dilemma

For some reason, I am not good at making lunch. I don't know why. It's not that I can't make a good lunch. I can and VERY occasionally, I do. But most of the time when mid-day arrives and a hungry Little Bug starts squirming for something to eat we do one of three things: go get something someone else has made at some restaurant/ fast food place, heat up leftovers from the night before, or scavenge around eating little snippets of cheese and crackers and fruit and whatever salads we have on hand until we aren't hungry any more.
Hence, I am looking forward to all the great ideas people will post this week at the Choosing Home blog. And to help myself to feel a little better about stealing all the ideas I will find therein, I'm contributing some recipes we use on any given more-organized week around here. Since it is fresh produce time, I have been hungry for salads. These I can make a couple nights before and have on hand. Some require some chopping, or using a mini food processor, but most are pretty easy. So... here are some favorite salad recipes.

Three Bean Salad
1 can kidney beans
1 can great northern beans
1 small package frozen green beans, thawed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar (I use raw apple cider vinegar)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, very finely chopped, optional

Drain and rinse beans and combine in large bowl. In small bowl, combine vinegar and oil and salt and pepper. Pour over bean mix and combine with onion, if using. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour.
This is an incredibly easy and incredibly cheap salad and you can use any different mix of beans
-- lima, black, butter, in addition to fresh green beans that have been steamed a little.

Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)
1 loaf stale or toasted Italian bread
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine or balsamic vinegar
4 cups ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces
2/3 cup red or vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into long thin strips (roll up leaves stacked up to cut easier)
fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak the onions in a small bowl with cold water and 1 teaspoon salt for an hour, then drain on paper towel.
Cover bread with cold water and soak for about ten minutes. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Crumble the bread into large pieces into a large serving bowl.
Add the tomatoes, onion and basil.
Drizzle on the olive oil and the vinegar. Add more olive oil and vinegar, to taste, if you'd like.
Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
Toss well. Add the mozzarella, if using, around the edge of the bowl.
Garnish with more whole basil leaves.

Spinach Salad
about 1 quart fresh spinach, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped very fine
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
8 slices cooked, crumbled bacon

1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 t. cornstarch
grease from bacon

Heat dressing, stirring frequently.
Pour over greens and add remaining ingredients. Serve warm.

Layered Salad
Shredded lettuce
5-6 hard boiled eggs
1 bag frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups mayo mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups cheddar cheese
Layer in a nice glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

Note: The following salads all use my grandmother's mayo mix, which is 2 parts mayo to a 1 part of miracle whip. If you are not a friend of miracle whip, try using another part of mayo mixed with a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon or two of sugar.

Grammy's Tuna Salad
2 cans tuna, drained
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 hardboiled eggs, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
2 stalks celery, chopped, optional
mayo mix (see above)

Combine all the ingredients. Chill. Eat.
I don't have specifics for the dressing mix because every family likes their tuna a little less or more wet than others. Also, even if you hate sweet pickles, try the sweet pickle relish. I detest sweet pickles, but the sweet pickle relish gives this a great flavor.

Easy Peasy Tuna Pea Salad
1 small box small pasta shell
1 can tuna, drained
1 package frozen green peas, thawed (or use fresh)
1 small onion chopped
mayo mix (see above)
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain. Add drained tuna, frozen peas, and onion. Add enough mayo to make it slightly dry and then add apple cider vinegar to start (start with less than a tablespoon and add a teaspoon of sugar -- you just want a hint of sweetness).

Crab and Cabbage Salad
1 package frozen imitation crab legs, thawed and cut into pieces
1 package prepared coleslaw mix (OR one head cabbage, shredded)
1 small onion, chopped, finely
mayo mix (see above)
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Mix. Eat.


Dawn C said...

Ooooh, right before supper is NOT the time to be reading all these yummy salads. I can't wait to try the Bread salad. That sounds DEEEELISSSHHHH

Anonymous said...

well it all sounds delish.....

now if i only knew how to cook and where to get all that stuff lunch would be served.

i was thinking....everytime i have been to your house we have had wonderful lunch. hummm.....

Holly said...

Wow, these are great ideas! :) Thanks so much!

I make the bread salad sometimes...and sometimes I saute' pepperoni til crisp and throw it in, too. I can use my crumbly, stale "alternative" bread and it still tastes great.