Cooking Cove: Main course salads make fresh meals

By Barbara Beltrami

Summer and salads are synonymous. All those fresh vegetables and fruits just waiting to be cut up and tossed in a bowl. No cooking. No cleaning. The perfect accompaniment to something fresh off the grill. But wait a minute! Who said summer salads had to be side dishes? Why not make it, with the addition of some protein, the real meal? The following are just a few of my favorite main course salads, but dozens of them are only as far away as your pantry or fridge.

Chickpea salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 14 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

One medium red onion, diced

2 celery ribs, diced

1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced ​​horizontally

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2/3 cup pitted black olives, halved

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, onion, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, oregano, thyme, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Half an hour before serving, remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Add romaine and tomatoes and mix slightly combine; transfer to a bowl or serving platter and top with feta, olives and parsley. Serve with pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

Prosciutto, parmesan and cantaloupe salad

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2-3 tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 ounces of fresh arugula

3 ounces curly

1/2 medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

8 cups diced fresh cantaloupe

8 ounces small pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 pound prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces

DIRECTIONS:

In bowl of electric mixer, combine oil, lime zest and juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and cilantro; pulse until completely emulsified. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, curly leaf, onion, mint and basil with about a third of the emulsion. In a large bowl (preferably clear glass), place a layer of the arugula mixture, then the cantaloupe, then the Parmigiano and finally the prosciutto; repeat until all ingredients have been used. Serve with the rest of the vinaigrette and the hot foccaccia.

Seafood salad

YIELD: Makes 4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly grated zest of a lemon

Freshly squeezed juice of two lemons

Freshly grated zest of an orange

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined, boiled and chilled

1 pound cooked sea scallops, halved crosswise, boiled and chilled

1 pound fresh calamari, cleaned, cut into half-inch rounds, boiled and chilled

1 head of Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 medium tomatoes, diced

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, oregano, chili flakes, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, wine, salt and pepper; add seafood and toss well to combine; cover and refrigerate at least three hours or up to twelve. When ready to serve, line a platter or salad bowl with lettuce leaves, drain the liquid from the seafood mixture and transfer to a lettuce-lined bowl. Garnish with fennel, parsley and tomatoes and serve cold with crusty Italian bread and a chilled Sancerre wine.