Summer Salads

If you’re looking for some healthful summer salads which are easy to prepare and easy on the digestion, think seafood salads. Fish, shellfish and succulent delicacies such as squid and octopus are light and refreshing, but they are also filling enough, even in a salad, to make a satisfying main course for dinner. The bonus is that fresh seafood is a cinch to cook. In fact, the simpler the better, so the delicate flesh and flavor won’t be overwhelmed by other ingredients or fussy preparations.

Most fish pair well with every ingredient you might think to put in a salad. Halibut with cooked potatoes and green beans; tuna with golden beets and peas; shrimp with beans and corn. Use raw vegetables such as tomatoes and sliced carrots for color, avocado and jicama to provide a variety of textures, a sharp onion — scallion, red onion or chives — to add some vitality to the milder ingredients. Cooked vegetables work, too, and you can use the leftovers from last night’s dinner: kernels stripped from grilled or steamed corn on the cob, cut-up cooked broccoli or asparagus.

Think about sweeter foods too: orange segments with snapper or shrimp, dried cranberries with salmon, peaches with bluefish, for example. Or add chunks of cheese: feta, blue cheese and goat cheese would work with most fish. Deli items are suitable: tangy, imported olives and sun-dried tomatoes, for example. And to add more substance and appeal for those who may think a fish salad isn’t satisfying enough, you can include cooked pasta, whole grains and potatoes.

Salad needs dressing, of course. It’s tempting, especially in the summer when you don’t really feel like cooking, to open one of the bottled brands you bought at the supermarket. Don’t do it.

Bottled dressings are convenient, but they’re also salty and often contain unwanted additives. Homemade dressings take less than 5 minutes to mix. All you need are good olive oil and a piquant wine vinegar or citrus juice. Mix them to taste (the ratio is anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1 parts oil to acidic liquid, depending on your particular taste buds) and you’re done. Of course you can get creative by adding any fresh herb that might enhance the fish. Try these: dill, tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano or coriander. Or switch from olive oil to corn or canola, or mix in a little bit of almond or avocado oil for extra flavor. And use different vinegars for different salads; say, use rice wine vinegar on a shrimp salad, sherry vinegar with tuna. Or add a small amount of orange juice to bring out a sweeter taste. Experiment away. Make seafood salads this summer and you’ll never be bored with dinner.

Here’s a recipe for Grilled Halibut Salad with Avocado, Tomato, Olives and Egg with Herb-Garlic Toasts

Makes 4 servings
16-20 ounces halibut or other firm white fish such as cod
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large hard-cooked eggs
1 large avocado
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely cut imported black olives
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Heat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Brush the fish with one tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill or broil for about 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Cut into bite-sized chunks and set aside. Cut the eggs, avocado and tomatoes into chunks and place in a bowl. Add the olives and fish and toss ingredients gently. In a small bowl mix the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and mustard. Pour over the ingredients and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving over Herb-Garlic Toasts (2 per person).

Herb and Garlic Toasts
Makes 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 1/2-inch slices Italian bread
1 large clove garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 425 degrees (or use an outdoor grill). Brush a small amount of the olive oil on one side of each slice of bread. Mix the remaining olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon peel in a small bowl. Place the bread slices, oiled side up on a cookie sheet. Bake for 3 minutes. Turn the slices over and spread with the olive oil-parsley mixture. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until crispy. Let cool.

Enjoy some delicious salads this summer and remember to use your Mamamiafoods 100% Italian Extra-Virgin Olive Oil!

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