1. Pineapple and peppermint salad
Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria
This refreshing salad is a delicious sweet treat for the summer and accompanies most vegetarian or fish dishes well.
- Core a fresh pineapple and cut into small chunks / wedges
- Pick some mint from the garden (about a cup) and chop it roughly
- Combine in a glass bowl
- Refrigerate for an hour before serving
Thanks to my sister for the recipe. Especially for the suggestion of using chocolate mint on occasion rather than peppermint. Nom.
- Try adding a quarter cup of finely chopped red onion for a bit of bite
- Love ginger? This one is great with a little fresh rasped ginger root (not too much, just a taste)
2. Mushroom garlic salad
Another favorite from childhood, and oh so easy to make. It’s a tiny bit fiddly, but worth it for the compliments you’ll get if you bring it as a side dish to summer gatherings.
- 2 pints white button mushrooms
- 1 dessert spoon of crushed garlic
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup sour cream
Making the salad
- Wash the mushrooms under cold water, turn them upside down and remove the stem. We discard the stems, as these have a more intense flavor than we’re looking for. Next, we clean up the mushrooms by reaching under the cap for the edge of the cap and removing the top layer of the mushroom. You’ll be left with a white, clean cap. This is the fiddly part. You can use your fingernails, or a paring knife, whichever feels easiest for you.
- Slide the mushrooms to desired size – I usually do every quarter inch.
- Aerate the whipping cream with a beater or whisk
- Whip the sour cream and add the garlic to it, then fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Carefully, we don’t want to lose the whipped lightness of the cream.
- Pour the cream mixture over the mushrooms and fold them together.
- Put a tight lid on and put it in the refrigerator. It will be ready to serve in an hour, once it’s chilled.
Once you have the basic mushroom garlic salad, you can add a variety of different herbs and ingredients.
- Chop half an English cucumber finely and add it to the salad. Serve immediately as the added liquid will dilute the cream.
- Add ginger to the mix, for a bright flavor
- Parsley, finely chopped, or chives, can also be added
Serve as a side dish with fish, barbeque ribs or steaks. It’s also great on a burger.
3. Fresh Fruit salad with lemon and agave
Red white and blue fruit salad – Image by Ria Loader
I like to call this one the red, white and blue salad. Depending on what’s ripe, the white might be apples, pears or even white nectarines. Farmers markets are popping up all around the region at the end of May. They are arriving at town centers and parking lots, at schools and in empty lots, bringing with them foods that were in the ground only that morning. Short of growing the food yourself, this is the closest we come to picking fruit off the tree. There are all kinds of odd shapes, especially among the heirloom tomatoes. The pears arrive in less than perfect shape, and absolutely delicious. Together with a slice or two of a sharp cheese, this is one of my favorite afternoon snacks in summer.
Evaporated lemon crystals, now available in the grocery store or online, add the bright flavor of lemon, without adding any liquid. If that’s not available, try lemon zest instead.
Agave syrup, a lower glycemic fruit syrup, pairs well with fruit salads, making them full of dark sweet flavor. I tend to like the dark, raw agave syrup. Used sparingly, as a drizzle on the fruit salad, it is ambrosial.
Red, white and blue
Always a fun color combination, I made a red, white and blue salad using berries and nectarines.
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 pint blueberries
- 3 medium sized white flesh nectarines
- 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
- crystallized lemon (1/4 teaspoon)
Chop the nectarines in 1/2 inch chunks, wash and combine the berries. No salt in the recipe at all. You can feel free to substitute the agave nectar for something else, sugar free vanilla syrup works, or honey if you like it better. The lemon adds a brightness of flavor to the raspberries. You could also use lemon juice.