It feels a little early to start complaining about the heat, but with 23 days over 100 degrees, and it being just the first full week of July, I think a little moaning is appropriate. One thing’s certain: I’m not turning on my oven unless absolutely necessary. Not only that, but I find I don’t want to eat hot things, especially for dinner when my west-facing kitchen and dining area are at their hottest.
A salad inspired by the traditional Niçoise salad makes a good cold dinner, and satisfies everyone from picky toddlers to ravenous adults. Toddlers will approve of each item being separate on the plate; adults will like that it’s not just salad, but some protien and starch, too.
Here’s what I usually put on the plate: In the middle, a tall pile of salad greens. Around that, I put a stack of blanched green beans, kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, chunks of cold rotisserie chicken, a quartered boiled egg and one or two new potatoes that I’ve boiled, chilled and sliced. Drizzle a favorite vinaigrette – homemade or store-bought – over the greens, then lightly salt and pepper all the rest. Voila! A cold but filling dinner.
That’s the kind of salad I make, but adding or substituting your family’s favorites will make this a family favorite! Piles of jicama sticks, orange segments, canned beans, cubes of cheese, a haystack of fried wonton strips … whatever they like, it can go on the plate. Skip the pile of greens for your littlest ones and add a side of ranch dressing or their favorite veggie dip, and call dinner done.
I often blanche the beans and boil the potatoes a day ahead (and in the same water – beans first, then potatoes). The rest is just washing and chopping. What would you add to your family’s plate? I’d love to hear your ideas in the Comments section!
Written by: Shannon Oelrich