Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crowd Pleasing Side Salads

At my early-bird Fourth of July party my guests arrived carrying some amazing salad creations. Bring these to your next party or potluck and get more props than for the average-Joe side dish. The Broccoli Salad is a favorite in my family that's changed more than one skeptic's mind, including a guest who swore she didn't like raw broccoli, only to eat my portion right off my plate after getting a taste.

BROCCOLI SALAD

2 heads of broccoli
1 chopped red onion
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup raisins
3-4 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 1/2 to 2 cups light mayonnaise
3-6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Trim and discard the tough stalk and leaves of your broccoli, then wash the heads. Slice the broccoli into smallish bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Stir, then allow the mixture to rest for 1-2 minutes. Stir again, then taste. Now slowly add the remaining amounts (if needed) of mayonnaise, rice vinegar, and granulated sugar to achieve the desired taste and texture. Dressing should thinly coat the sides of the bowl or a dipped broccoli floret rather than be thick and creamy. It should have a sweet, slightly tangy flavor. Combine onion (go light on the onion if you prefer—you can always add in more later), sunflower seeds, raisins, and dressing with the broccoli florets in the large bowl. Chill then serve.

TROPICAL FRUIT AND AMERICAN BERRY SALAD

2 mangoes
2 peaches
2 (6-oz.) containers blackberries
1 (6-oz.) container raspberries
1 (1-lb.) container strawberries
1 small ripe pineapple
3 kiwi
1 medium-large watermelon
1 lime
1 lemon

Wash all of your fruit. Peel your mango and kiwi, and cut the mango, kiwi, peaches, and strawberries into into bite-sized pieces. Cut the pineapple: remove both ends, skin the sides of the pineapple, quarter it lengthwise and slice off the core on the edge of each quarter. Cut into bite-sized chunks.

In a large bowl, combine mango, kiwi, peaches, strawberries, pineapple, blackberries and raspberries. Over these, squeeze the juice of your lemon and lime. Chill in refrigerator.

Take your watermelon, turn it on its side and slice off one end. Then remove the top quarter or third of the other end. Place the watermelon with the larger cut surface facing up and begin scooping out the flesh. We made melon balls, which we set aside to garnish with fresh mint and serve at another meal.

Once you've cored out your watermelon, leaving enough flesh at the bottom to keep your salad from leaking out, use a vegetable peeler to expose some of the whitish rind at the top, giving your bowl a decorative edge. Transfer the chilled fruit mixture to the watermelon bowl and serve.


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