Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cooking Light salads - a farewell to summer


As the earth rotates around the sun and the tilt angle changes, summer begins to draw to an end. In the northern hemisphere the official end of summer every year is the 21st of September and autumn begins the very next day. I’m a summer kind of gal. I adore wearing colorful sundresses and sandals. We enjoy eating light dinners on our screened porch every evening, listening to the night sounds. Our herb garden is filled with varieties of basil, tomatoes, and bright zinnias and that brings me much happiness. Perhaps that might explain some of the reasons why we spent ten years living in a perpetual summer environment on a tiny tropical island in the Atlantic Ocean. So it stands to reason that I hang on tight to everything summer represents until the very last minute. When I saw these two salad recipes in the August issue of Cooking Light, I knew they would be the perfect way to bid a farewell to my old friend summertime.

The first salad is Proscuitto, Peach and Sweet Lettuce Salad. Fortunately for us our supermarket had a lovely selection of southern peaches when we went shopping this weekend. This is a fresh, no-cook entrée that only took a few minutes to put together. I substituted spinach for the sweet butter lettuce mix called for in the original recipe and used feta cheese instead of the ricotta salata. For my taste Cooking Light’s vinaigrette recipes frequently don’t use enough oil to balance the acid and you end up tasting only the acid component. I’ve always used three parts oil to one part vinegar (or lemon or lime juice) for a vinaigrette, so that’s what I did here. I suspect they reduce the amount of oil to save on the calories and fat count, but I’m more interested in the flavor and how it tastes.

Peaches and mint are fabulous together, so don’t leave out the fresh mint. I also peeled the peaches, primarily because I don’t care for the fuzzy feel the skin leaves on my tongue. Our supermarket had baby key limes, so I couldn’t resist buying a bag and using them in these vinaigrettes. Key limes contain tiny seeds, so be sure to remove them before squeezing. Although they are a bit more tart than Persian limes, feel free to use a Persian lime, or even a lemon for that matter, if key limes aren’t available.

Proscuitto, Peach and Spinach Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light – serves 4

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed key lime juice
A good squirt of honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 (5 oz) package of baby spinach
2 large ripe peaches cut into wedges
Coarse sea salt (French fleur de sel if you have it)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 ounces very thinly sliced proscuitto (best quality you can find)
4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a screw top jar. Shake well and set aside. Put spinach and peach wedges in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and toss gently. Arrange an equal serving of salad on four plates. Tear the proscuitto into one inch pieces and garnish the salad with the proscuitto and crumbled feta cheese. Sprinkle the peaches with a bit more coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


The second salad is Flank Steak Salad with Plums and Blue Cheese. I substituted a cut of meat called a London broil for the flank steak and we grilled it outdoors on our gas grill as opposed to cooking it inside in a skillet. This salad is a wonderful blend of flavors and the combination of steak and cheese can’t be beat. Again, I changed the vinaigrette to a three to one ratio of oil to acid.

Both recipes make an excellent light main-course worthy of company.

Steak Salad with Plums and Blue Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light – serves 4

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed key lime juice, seeds removed
A squirt of honey

1 pound London broil or flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed key lime juice
1 (5 oz) package of baby arugula
Coarse sea salt (we like French fleur de sel)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 plums, thinly sliced
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a screw top jar. Shake well and set aside. Sprinkle the steak with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine the olive oil and lime juice in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of the steak and let it sit for a few minutes while your grill heats up.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill. Cook steak on the grill until it’s reached your desired degree of doneness. Remove the steak, cover, and set it aside to rest for about ten minutes. Put the arugula in a large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette and season with the coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the salad equally among four plates. Thinly slice the steak and add it to the plates along with the sliced plums and blue cheese. Sprinkle the steak and plums with a bit more coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

48 comments:

  1. What a magnificent salad! It looks really delicious.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. very beautiful salad, and the ingredients are so simple. Looks delicious. Angie

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  3. As much as I love fall it is sad to see summer come to a close. The produce has been so wonderful this year. Both salads look so delicious, Sam, and I'm going to start with the flank steak, plum and blue cheese. Heaven!

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  4. IT is only 9:30 in the morning here and my mouth is watering. Both of these dishes look and sound wonderful!
    Hugs,
    Penny

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  5. Sam, you definitely found two winners here. Can't wait to try them both.

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  6. All I need to make this tonight are the peaches and proscuitto and I just might do it! Beautiful Salad! I think too often people leave out mint thinking it will add a funny taste, but you're right - don't leave it out - it adds such flavor and depth! Thanks for this Sam!

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  7. My daughters birthday is September 21st so for many reasons I would have to say I am a fall kind of a gal. Not that I won't miss the lazym hazy days of summer, sun-ripened tomatooes, corn on the cob and salads made with fresh ingredients like this Sam.

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  8. wow amazing salads you always do salads so gourmet LOL Rebecca

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  9. I am definitely a summer girl too, of course now is starting the time we can enjoy sitting out on the lani in the evenings. Soon we will be able to keep our windows and doors open again.

    I love the steak and blue chees salad! They both look so good. My favorite limes are key lime I always keep som juice in small sizes in the freezer! I love tha tang!

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  10. Oh my- such beautiful food just before lunch. I was going to make turkey sandwiches but now I think I need to run to Fresh Market. Lovely.

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  11. Looks lovely and so tasty fresh. Fall weather has arrived here; we are freezing so we are in Soup time. It all went by toofast.

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  12. Both of those salads look absolutely scrummptious! I love summer too. I usually wince and avert my eyes when I see the first pumpkin of fall. I better hurry so I can try these while I can still get peaches and plums.

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  13. Sam...I have to admit that I love both version of salad...always love fruit in my salad, specially the Summer ones. Great photos!

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  14. I have to admit I'm partial to that peach salad. I'm not much of a plum fan. Great photos.

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  15. Fantastic salads - I love your pairing of peaches and prosciutto; and then of plums and blue cheese - yum!

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  16. Sam, time just flies! Bye bye to summer already! So, I'm going to look forward to more pumpkin recipes soon. Your salad looks fabulous. I'm so wanna to make one. Thanks & have a wonderful day.
    Cheers, Kristy

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  17. Aren't the peaches wonderful right now Sam? So I'm sold on the first salad...those light flavors and such a simple, elegant vinaigrette!

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  18. So happy to have stumbled upon your blog. What cooking inspiration. My husband and I lived in the mountains for the first 10 years of our marriage, now live in Ohio's heartland. I am eagerly awaiting our return to North Carolina this time to the eastern coastal plains - Rocky Mount. I will be visiting your blog often and then dashing to the market. May have to revamp my cooking budget!!!

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  19. Those are two beautiful salads Sam. Your photos are outstanding! I think I need a new camera for my birthday.

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  20. Yes, I hang onto summer too. However, this year, I'm going to try to embrace the changing of the seasons with abandon to adopt a better attitude (but not quite yet, 10 more days!)

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  21. Plums and blue cheese is quite a unique combo - I've never heard of it before. I really like both plums and blue cheese, so I can already imagine how yummy this salad is :)

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  22. Our summer ends way too soon here but I keep putting salads on the table as often as possible. Thanks for more delicious recipes!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  23. These do look wonderful -- and it's still plenty warm to enjoy salads at lunch.

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  24. Sam both the salads looks fabulous and fresh !
    That's a wonderful way to say good bye to summer!

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  25. Another great looking dish with an interesting combo of ingredients - I sure learn a lot from you.

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  26. Both salads look wonderful Sam! I am partial to blue cheese, so I would probably choose the plum and steak and blue cheese salad off the menu if I could!

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  27. I think both salads are beautiful! I'm sad to see summer go, but at the same time I'm excited for autumn's foods! :)

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  28. This looks SO good! I love cooking light. Perfect 'farewell to summer' dish!

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  29. I am denial about the end of summer. My herbs are still doing well and the yard is filled with flowers.But I live in MN and I know what's coming and I shall definitely celebrate with your salads.

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  30. You certainly know how to celebrate the end of summer, dear Sam!!

    Your 2 tasty salads are very special but I prefer the 1st one the most!! Just every ingredient is right in here,...


    STUNNING & DIVINE FOOD!

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  31. Sam,
    These salads are so colorful, lovely, and look so good. I can hardly wait to try the recipes. I just love to visit your blog. You always post delicious food.

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  32. Sam,
    These salads are so colorful, lovely, and look so good. I can hardly wait to try the recipes. I just love to visit your blog. You always post delicious food.

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  33. Well Sam, I wouldn't be able to choose if I was forced...they both sound mouthwatering...wonderful ways to bid summer adieu ;)

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  34. It is hard to believe summer is already coming to an end, even though it is still pretty warm where I am. This salad not only looks delicious but would be perfect right about now to satisfy my cravings.

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  35. I love the blue cheese kiss in that steak salad, I have to try that one. But what is this "Summer is ending" nonsense? I refuse to accept it! No. Uh uh. Not listening. la la la la [inserts fingers into ears]

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  36. Sam- I wish I could say that I was a summer loving kinda of gal, but I just can't take the heat!! I will, however, miss the abundance of fresh fruit, veggies and herbs and simple wonderful meals like the two you have created here. I have been enjoying quite a few cooking light meals myself lately.

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  37. It's hard to say good bye to summer even by enjoying a farewell to summer meal with your beautiful salads, oh well fall is pretty nice too:)

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  38. Sam, I enjoyed reading about your love of summer! I love spring and early summer, but right about now, I've had enough of the heat and yearn for cool evenings and mornings! With temps still in the 90's, it is hard for me to imagine it being autumn in a few days! Both of these salads look and sound incredible; Cooking Light is always chock-full of great healthy recipes!

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  39. Sam...Summer has a special place in my heart...however the seasonal Fall period is the one I look forward to the most. The colors and the freshness in the air just makes me incredibly joyful.

    Your salads also brought a big smile to my tummy. I'd have no problems enjoying these as a weekend breakfast ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

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  40. Doesn't the summer seem all too short now that we are approaching autumn? I am in love with blue cheese, so I'm hoping there are some good plums still around so that I can give the steak salad a try. It sounds like heaven.

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  41. Sam, I'm just jumping back in to thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  42. I have been away for several weeks now and am catching up. I loved your pictures of the mountains, lake and waterfalls in North Carolina. Your birthday was quite a celebration – the place, the food – everything so elegant. We went to celebrate two of our anniversaries in that area in the 80s, so it has been a while. The city I think was close to Highlands, it was called Cashiers I think and we stayed at the High Hampton Inn. It is another historic inn. Their breakfasts were wonderful. I bought their cookbook then and still use their recipe for pancakes.
    Your picture of heirloom tomatoes makes my mouth water. I do not grow tomatoes and cannot find as tasty tomatoes as those I remember eating in France – maybe they are from a different variety.
    We just came back from Savannah where it was cooler than in Cobb County, really. Now I do not know whether I should keep talking about our trip to Norway or insert some posts on Savannah. Maybe Savannah for a change, then back to Norway next.

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  43. That plate is art itself. What a glorious combination of color, texture and flavors. I already miss peach season :(

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  44. Sam This lok really nice!! gloria

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  45. We are heading in to summer and this recipe is perfect!!! thank you.

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  46. LOL, Chris is always leaving such funny comments...love the salad, would be great on a quesadilla too- hmmm, but none around my hotel in Spain :(

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  47. Sam, these salads look wonderful.
    I have just one question. The salads make four servings. Perhaps you and your husband eat large servings.
    But how can I fix these salads just for one?
    By the way, I thought of you last week when I was tasting food from New England and Canada and I wanted to make pictures and write about the clam chowder I had that was just fantastic.

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  48. Your version of the Proscuitto, Peach and Spinach Salad looks amazing. I love the key lime vinaigrette. Love your blog :)

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. If you leave a comment with a question or that requires an answer, please leave an address or way for me to get in touch with you. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam