Great Summer Salads

This town loves meat. Pork, beef, chicken (and turtle, rabbit, and duck for that matter). We’ll eat it in all of its wonderful shapes, sizes, flavors and forms. Backyard BBQs and fish boils are a way of life around here and this time of year nature is practically screaming at you to get your butt outside. The air smells like jasmine and you can still walk 10 feet without finding yourself drenched in sweat. The nights are getting longer and the mosquitoes haven’t quite settled in for their bloodthirsty attack on summer. It’s those dreamy few weeks before the summer descends and the heat envelops us, during which we all try to make the most of the outdoors. For those of us over here at Gourmet and Gourmand, this means setting up a table in our back yard and eating and drinking with friends. Burgers and BBQ are a forgone conclusion, but what to eat them with?

Here are three summery, fresh salads to inspire you. They are chalk full of veggies, flavor and color and you can’t help but smile when you see them on your table and share them with others.

Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes & Calamata Olives (Serves 10-12)

2 pounds farfalle
1 pound mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups calamata olives, halved
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound feta cheese, cubed
2 handfuls basil, julienned
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook farfalle until just tender, about 8-12 minutes. Let pasta cool and mix all ingredients, saving the basil until you are ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste.

Watermelon & Tomato Salad with Feta & Mint (serves 10-12)

2 small baby watermelons, cubed
3 large heirloom tomatoes, cubed
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 pound feta, diced
1 handful of mint, chopped
White wine vinaigrette to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Cube watermelon and tomato, combine and chill for one hour. After one hour drain the liquid and add all ingredients, saving the mint until you are ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste

Beet Salad with Garlic Cumin Dressing (serves 10-12)

9 small beets, cut into 1″ pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup EVOO
1 large handful mint, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Place beets in a pot a cover with water by about one inch. Bring to a boil and let cook 30 minutes. While cooking, combine the cumin, garlic, and EVOO, let sit. When beets are sufficiently softened, run each beet under cold water so as not to burn your fingers, rubbing off the skins and rough bits. Chop and combine with the olive oil mixture and lemon juice, saving the mint until you are ready to serve.