With Labor Day approaching and the summer winding down, it's a good time to think about serving up some flavorful salads for lunch, dinner or a party.
Home cooks can find a variety of salad recipes at food sites, in cookbooks and magazines that are great additions to any festive gathering.
The following recipes for Mexican Pasta Salad and Grilled Ratatouille Salad feature fresh and easy to find ingredients.
The Mexican-inspired dish blends pasta with items such as frozen corn, Monterey Jack cheese, black beans, avocado, cilantro and other favorites.
Real ratatouille, the classic Nicoise dish, is neither grilled, nor a salad. It is a stewed vegetable dish consisting of eggplant, tomato, pepper, zucchini, onion and herbs.
Thing is, all of those ingredients would make a delicious salad, particularly if they were grilled. Of course the dish needed to be deconstructed and reconstructed a bit, but the flavors and ingredients remain the same. In fact, the smokiness and char that the grill adds makes for a nice contrast to the sweet vegetables.
Mexican Pasta Salad
1 12-ounce package of tri-color penne pasta
1 can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can diced tomatoes and chiles
2 tablespoons diced black olives
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup fresh cilantro, and more for garnish
1 ripe avocado
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
Tortilla chips and grape tomatoes for serving
DIRECTIONS: Prepare pasta according to directions on the box, drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. In serving dish, add black beans, corn, tomatoes and chiles and one teaspoon cumin and microwave on high for three minutes, or until hot. Set aside to cool. In a blender, combine cilantro, avocado, Greek yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, cumin and salt. Blend until all ingredients are combined well, adding a tablespoon of water or more if needed to get a smooth texture. Combine with pasta, then add in black bean mixture, cheese and olives. Salt to taste. Top with crushed tortilla chips, sliced grape tomatoes and chopped cilantro for serving.
SOURCE: Kacy Sesser
GRILLED RATATOUILLE SALAD
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
DIRECTIONS: Heat the grill to medium-high. Using a paring knife, slice shallow slits into the cut sides of the eggplant halves. Drizzle the eggplants with olive oil, then rub half of the garlic and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper into the flesh. Brush the onion slices and the zucchini halves with a little more olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Fold a large sheet of heavy duty foil into thirds the long way. Open the foil. Place the tomatoes in the middle third of the foil, then drizzle them with the balsamic glaze and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with the herbes de Provence, the remaining garlic, and the red pepper flakes. Stir gently to combine. Fold the foil closed, crimping the ends to make a packet. Grill the eggplant, onion slices, zucchini halves, tomato packet, and red bell pepper (left whole) for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are charred and tender, and the tomatoes are juicy. Place the red pepper in a brown paper bag and crimp the top closed. Set aside. Dice the eggplant, onion and zucchini and place in a large bowl. When the pepper cools slightly, rub the charred skin away, using the paper bag to assist. Cut the pepper into strips, discarding the core, and add to the other vegetables. Pour the tomatoes and their juices over the other vegetables and sprinkle with the goat cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.
SOURCE: Associated Press