Pantry Cooking – Salads

Rainbow Salad- recipe in post

When it comes to versatile meals, it is hard to beat a salad. Pretty much anything can go into a salad. When your choices might be limited, you can almost always still make a great salad.

When we think of salad, I suspect most of us see of a bowl of lettuce, with a few other veggies and a drizzle of dressing. A side dish, and not an exciting side dish at that.

Salads can be so much more. Salads can easily be a meal all on their own. We just have to use our imaginations a little.

So where do we start? Start by looking at what ingredients you already have. Veggies, fruits, meats, grains, pasta, bread, nuts, eggs, dry beans, lentils, herbs, seafood and cheeses. Did I leave anybody out? Pretty much everything you have can be a salad. How you use them will determine just how wonderful your salad will be.

The Veggies

We’ll start with veggies, because they are the obvious place to start. If you don’t have lettuce, don’t worry. You can make great salads with shredded cabbage, sliced cucumbers, sliced peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, fennel, carrots, celery, mushrooms, green beans, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, corn, asparagus, sweet onions, green onions, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, endive, dandelion. You get the idea. There are a lot of options. Let’s not forget potatoes and sweet potatoes.

I figured people might still have potatoes and cabbage around. I thought you might like this recipe.

Potato Slaw

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1 clove garlic

1 t. salt

3 -4 T. vinegar

1/3 c. oil

1 ½ -2 lbs. Cabbage, shredded

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook potato until tender. Meanwhile, combine next 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Set aside. Drain cooked potato and mash into the cabbage. Cabbage will wilt a little. Toss in dressing and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

Many veggies can be used raw in salads, but you’ll want to cook potatoes, sweet potatoes. I love a broccoli and cauliflower in salads, but I prefer to cook them a little. Just steamed a few minutes.

Here is a salad using eggplant!

Greek Eggplant Salad

1 medium eggplant

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 small onion, minced

1/3 c. olive oil

¼ c. red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced ripe olives and chopped fresh parsley

Broil eggplant until skin has blackened. Cool. Rub skin off the eggplant with a damp paper towel and chop the pulp. Combine eggplant with remaining vegetables in bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in blender until smooth and toss over eggplant mixture. Chill and garnish with olives and parsley. Serves 3-4.


Fruits can be used in salads, too. I am not talking about a fruit salad, although they are great. I am talking about adding fruit to your veggie salads. Oranges, apples, berries, pineapples, dried fruits all add a pop of sweetness. Even canned fruits can be used, although they wouldn’t be my first choice. Still, if you have a can of pears you are looking to use, it could work. It might be a way of using up those raisins your kids won’t eat.


Proteins can take your salads from side dish to main dish. Canned beans are a great addition- like kidney beans or black beans, not canned green beans. Don’t overlook other legumes. Lentils and split peas can be cooked until just tender and then added to a salad. They add protein, texture and even a pop of color. Other great protein options- nuts, seeds, eggs, meats, fish, cheese.

Here is a colorful salad using yellow and green split peas and red lentils. It makes a lot of salad, but you can cut it down to a smaller size. The cooked peas and lentils freeze well, too.

Rainbow Salad

1 c. each green split peas, yellow split peas and red lentils

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. diced sweet onion

1 c. diced sweet pepper

1 c. grated carrot

Cook split peas and lentils separately just until tender. Split peas, both green and yellow will take 20 minutes. Red lentils will take about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse each under cold water when done and set aside until ready to use, or you can cook them a day ahead and keep chilled. Each will yield about 2 1/2 c. cooked.

In large glass bowl, place the following ingredients in this order.

Black beans, butter beans, green split peas. yellow split peas. onion, red lentils. carrots and peppers. Pour over dressing and chill several hours or overnight. Serve on a bed of greens.

Dressing *

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. vinegar

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2-3 T. sugar

1/2 c. parsley or cilantro

1 t. each chili powder, cumin and salt

dash hot sauce

 Combine in a blender or food processor until smooth.

*Note: Any bottled dressing you like can be used. Italian works very well.

Additional Salad Ingredients

There are more potential ingredients- cooked pasta is always a good choice, but you can also used cooked rice, barley, quinoa, cracked wheat or other grains.

Salads can be a great way to use up stuff from the fridge, too. Waste not, want not these days. Go through all those jars of pickled goodies you have lurking in there. Sliced hot peppers, dill slices, pickled beets, olives can all add flavor to your salad.

The Dressing

After you’ve got all your ingredients together we need to talk dressing. You can start by using prepared dressings, if you have them. Mayonnaise would be an option, too.

My mom loved to make her own dressings. For leafy green salads, she would often dress it with vinegar and oil. She would drizzle oil first, and toss the salad until the oil was distributed on the greens. Then she would drizzle in vinegar, tossing again. She would also toss in salt and pepper. She taught me to use a light hand with dressings. There was never a big puddle of dressing at the bottom of the bowl. It is a great lesson to learn. You will need less dressing than you might think. She made great salads.

If you don’t have bottled dressing you might have to make your own. It is actually pretty easy. In most dressing you’ll combine a fat with acid, salt, and sweetener. There are endless variations and plenty of options. I love to make salad dressings.

Oils and Fats

Most dressings start with oil or some fat. Any oil you like works here. If you store your extra dressing in the fridge, olive oil and avocado oil will harden up. Don’t worry. You can just take them out of the fridge for a few minutes before using. Sesame oil has a strong flavor, so don’t use too much of it. It can be added to other oils to soften it’s flavor. For wilted salads, bacon fat is warmed and poured over greens to wilt them down a bit

The classic ratio is 3 or 4 parts oil/fat to one part vinegar/acid. I often make dressing closer to equal parts oil and acid, but it depends on my mood and what my acid source is.

Acid Ingredients

Acids are usually vinegar, but shouldn’t be limited to them. Citrus juices are a great acid base in a dressing. Not just lemon or lime juice, either. Orange and grapefruit juices are wonderful in salad dressing. Other juices, too. Pineapple, tomato and pomegranate juice are nice options.

Pickle Juice

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about pickle juice. Most of us have jars of something pickled in the fridge. The liquid in the jars, the brine, can be a great addition to any salad dressing. Most are vinegar based with salt, spices and sometimes sugar. Don’t throw it away. Use it in salad dressings and marinades.

Salt, Herbs and Spices

Salt- don’t forget to add some to you dressing, unless you are on a sodium restricted diet. Salt makes the dressing better. Add some pepper, too. Don’t forget herbs and spices, too. If you only have dried herbs, add them ahead of time and let your dressing chill in the fridge for an hour or longer. It gives the herbs time to get soft, but also for their flavors to infuse in the dressing.


Sweetening is optional, depending on your personal tastes. The more acid ingredients you use, the more likely you will want to sweeten your dressing a little. It can be as simple as a bit of sugar, but don’t overlook honey, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, fruit, dried or fresh as other sweetening options.

Additional Dressing Ingredients

Other possible dressing ingredients include garlic, tahini, peanut butter, almond butter, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, milk, tomatoes. All sorts of things can be added. Start simple and build in more flavors gradually.

Making the Dressing

You can mix your dressing by just putting all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shaking them up. Of course, if you are adding things like garlic cloves or dried fruits, you’ll need a blender.

You can also make a creamy/emulsified dressing. These are fun to make and kids might even like to watch the magic happen. You can actually get the oil and vinegar to mix together. To make your dressing creamy- start with the acid and other ingredients- but NOT the oil. Place them in a blender. I use an immersion blender, so I place my ingredients in a wide mouth jar. Blend until the ingredients ate well combined. Slowly- and I mean SLOWLY, start to drizzle in the oil. If it starts to puddle up on top, slow down until it mixes in, then add more oil. The dressing with start to thicken up. The more oil you use, the thicker it will become. Mayonnaise is, after all, just an emulsified dressing. Store extra dressing in the fridge.

Don’t forget salad toppers like croutons, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, bacon. Have fun.

Here are a few dressing recipes, to help you get started.

Lemon Dill Dressing

¾ c. olive oil

½ c. lemon juice

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. dill, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ t. each cumin and paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth. Use on vegetable salads, especially tomato and cucumber salads or on tuna salads. Makes 1 ¼ c.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

½ c. raspberry vinegar

3 T. minced chives, optional

1 T. each lime juices and honey

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c. each olive oil and walnut oil or ½ c. olive oil

Combine all but the oils in a blender and mix well. Add oils in a slow stream with machine running until dressing is blended. Makes 1 cup.

Tomato and Herb Dressing

1 c. tomatoes, peeled and seeded, fresh or canned

½ c. chopped parsley

2 green onions, chopped

2 T. fresh celery or lovage leaves

2 t. basil leaves. Dried

½ t. each salt and garlic powder

½ c. olive oil

Dash hot pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth. Makes 1 ½ c.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

¼ c. red wine vinegar

¼-1/2 c. fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, chervil etc., or a combination

½ t. celery seed

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 c. oil

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend for 15 seconds. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Greek Style Dressing

¾ c. olive oil

¼ c. vinegar

2 T. lemon juice

1 T. fresh oregano or 1 t. dried

2 cloves garlic

¼ c. black olives, pitted

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. feta cheese

4-6 anchovies cut up, optional

Combine all ingredients in blender, except cheese and anchovies and process until smooth. Cheese and anchovies can be stirred in just before using. Makes 1 ½ c. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to play around with your salad and salad dressings. Taste as you go. We will get through this.

Garlic Scapes Recipes

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

If you have never had garlic scapes, you don’t know what you are missing. Garlic scapes are the green shoots removed from hard-neck varieties of garlic. By removing the shoots, the bulbs will get bigger. So farmers remove them.  They curl as they grow, and are good served raw, or barely cooked. They are showing up at farm markets around here right now.

When cooked, the flavor mellows a lot. I love to steam garlic scapes for about 5 minutes, then just eat like fresh green beans, with butter and salt. I steamed a bunch of scapes the other day- then chopped them up and added to potato salad. So tasty!!

They have a rich, garlic flavor that is all the sweeter because of the short time they are around. Enjoy them when you can- they will be gone soon.

I sometimes use scapes in place of basil, in my pesto recipe, or combine them with parsley in a garlic scape-parsley pesto. You can also combine the garlic scapes with cottage cheese in the blender- add a little lemon juice and hot sauce for a tasty dip. Here are some more recipes for cooking with garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

4-5  garlic scapes

2 lbs. red skinned potatoes*

½ cup minced sweet pepper

½ c. olive oil

½ c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

2 T. chopped parsley

2 t. fresh dill weed

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste


Steam the scapes for 5 minutes. Cool a little, and cut into ¾ -inch slices. You should end up with about 1½ of sliced scapes when done. Place in a medium bowl. Cook potatoes until tender. I baked mine in a microwave until tender and then cut into cubes. Baking them is also a nice way to cook the potatoes. You can also opt to cut into cubes first and boil the potatoes. Whatever method to cook the potatoes is fine with me. Take the potatoes, while still warm, and place in the bowl with the scapes. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over warm potato mix, tossing to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like.

Garlic Scape Pesto Sauce

1 c. chopped scapes – you can also use half scapes, half parsley
1/4 c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 c. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a blender and mix until smooth. Stir in the cheese and toss over hot, cooked pasta or use as a sauce on meat and poultry. Sauce will keep a few days in the fridge and makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb. of cooked pasta.


Lebanese Garlic Sauce

1/2 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups olive oil

In the container of a blender, combine the garlic scapes, lemon juice and salt. Blend at medium speed until smooth. Continue blending while pouring olive oil into the blender in a thin stream. The mixture should become thick and white almost like mayo. Store refrigerated in a glass container.  Nice on hot pasta, cooked rice or grains or brushed on meats while cooking. It also is a great salad dressing.

Garlic Scapes with  Broccoli

1 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, steamed 5 minutes, cooled

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Place garlic scapes in a food processor with the salt and blend into a paste. Add olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.  Pulse until smooth.  Place garlic scapes mixture in a bowl and add the broccoli.  Stir to coat. Chill for 3 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. Tastes even better the next day!!!

Garlic Scapes


12 Summer Fresh Salads

Purple and Pink Potato Salad

Purple and Pink Potato Salad

Between cookouts and picnics, it seems there is always a need for more salads. Sometimes I am in the mood for old favorites. Other times I am looking for something a little different. Here are some salads I have made that my friends and family really enjoyed. If you are looking for a salad for the holiday weekend – or any time – I think you will find one here that you and your family will enjoy.







Purple and Pink Salad

1 lb. purple potatoes

1 lb. red onions

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. water

salt and pepper to taste

1 t. celery seed

1/4 c. oil

Bake potatoes until tender. I used the microwave and it took about 7 minutes, but you can bake in a conventional oven, too. While potatoes are baking, peel, then slice onions thin and place in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5-8 minutes until onions are just tender. Some of the liquid will cook off. Peel and cube potatoes and place in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil. Add the onion mixture and stir gently. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Chill. Serves 4.

Curry Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower, cooked
½ c. chopped green onions
¾ c. mayo – or less or more depending in the size of the head of cauliflower
1 T. curry powder- or to taste
1 t. hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. peanuts

First break the cauliflower into florets. Cook the cauliflower any way you like. I steamed mine for about 5 minutes. You could roast it, or sauté it in a little oil. You want it tender, but still a little crisp. Don’t cook it to mush. I would also advise against boiling it, as it gets too wet. Once the cauliflower is cooked, let it cool down before proceeding. Combine the cauliflower with the green onions, the mayo and seasonings. It was hard to be exact because your head of cauliflower might be bigger or smaller than mine. I could have said 5 cups of cooked cauliflower- but would that really help? Then you’d have leftover cooked cauliflower. Or perhaps not enough. So add a little more mayo, if needed, and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste and the amount of cauliflower you have. Chill and toss the peanuts in closer to serving time. They are fine, even when in the salad for a while, but the peanuts crunchier when first put in.

Curry Cauliflower Salad

Curry Cauliflower Salad

Succotash Salad

Succotash Salad

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad







Multi Bean Salad

Multi Bean Salad

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

Pesto Potato Salad

Pesto Potato Salad

Artichoke and Edamame Salad

Artichoke and Edamame Salad








Cucumber and Carrot Salad

This refreshing salad combines carrots and cucumbers in a simple dressing. So easy and fast. Perfect side for your picnic or barbecue.

4 cucumbers, peeled, leaving strips of skin

1 c. coarsely shredded carrots

1 c. thin sliced sweet onion

1/3 c. vinegar- I like cider vinegar in this dish

2 T. Balsamic vinegar

¼ c. oil

1 T. sugar

1 ½ t. salt

Fresh ground pepper


Slice cucumbers. Combine vegetables in bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Chill at least 1 hour before serving, Spoon over lettuce, if desired. Serves 4-6.


Cornbread Salad

 A little different- people always seem to like this salad. A nice way to use up stale cornbread, too. ?

4 c. crumbled cornbread or corn muffins

1 c. shredded mild cheese

1 sweet red pepper seeded and diced

1 c. diced celery

½ c. diced green onion

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

¼ c. chopped parsley

1-1 ½ c. mayonnaise or salad dressing, sometimes I use potato salad dressing or even slaw dressing

2 c. diced fresh tomatoes

1 c. toasted pecans

paprika for sprinkling on the top, optional


Place cornbread and next 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in dressing until desired moistness is achieved. Chill and stir in tomato and nut just before serving. Sprinkle with paprika if you like. Serves 6.

Note: You can add whole kernel corn also if you like.


Sweet Potato Salad

A nice twist on potato salad.

3 large sweet potatoes

2 c. corn kernels, fresh off the cob preferred but frozen is O.K.

2 ribs celery, sliced

1 sweet onion, diced

1 c. sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

2-3 T. fresh parsley

1/3 c. oil

1 t. Dijon mustard

3 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. cashews

In medium saucepan boil or steam potatoes until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place in a large bowl of ice water. Add corn to saucepan and cook until just tender about 2-3 minutes. Drain corn and add to ice water with the potatoes. Once the vegetables have cooled down drain them and peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place potatoes and corn in a mixing bowl with remaining vegetables. Combine remaining ingredients, except cashews, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well before pouring over the sweet potato mixture. Toss to blend and chill until ready to serve. Add cashews just before serving. Serves 6.



Multi- Bean Salad

1 lb. cooked green beans, sliced

1 can lima beans, rinsed and drained

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. oil

2 T. Italian seasoning- or whatever herb blend you like

1 T. hot sauce, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine beans with onions and parsley in a medium bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the bean mixture. Stir well and chill a couple of hours before serving. Serves 8.

Pesto Potato Salad

2 lbs. Boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 c. basil leaves
3 T. pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. In blender combine remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon of the nuts. Pour blended mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Chill. Serves 6-8.

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

2 lbs. boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces*
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Drain and toss with the rest of the ingredients and serve right away or chill to serve later. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like. I often bake the potatoes whole and then peel and cut up. Cook them any way you prefer.

Mustard Potato Salad

4 lbs. potatoes- I used Klondike Rose and I did not peel them

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 c. mayo- maybe a little less

1/4 c. prepared mustard

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Bake whole potatoes until tender and allow to cool. Cube potatoes into large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Artichoke and Edamame Salad

1 lb. edamame  (fresh soybeans)*

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 c. cooked corn

1 c. chopped sweet onion

1/3 c. olive oil

1/2 c. cider vinegar

1 t. sugar, optional

fresh chopped parsley

fresh chopped basil

salt and pepper to taste

To prepare edamame steam them, in their pods, until tender, about 8 minutes. Place in cold water. Once cool enough to handle slip the edamame out of their pods. Discard pods and place edamame into a mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 4-6.

* A lot of stores have them in the freezer section. They are in the pods. The pods are not edible. If you don’t have edamame you can substitute fresh lima beans.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite- sized pieces

2 broccoli crowns, cut into bite- sized pieces

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 c. shredded cheese- I used a sharp cheddar

8- 10 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup of mayo – or more according to your taste

salt and pepper to taste

Steam the cauliflower and broccoli until just tender/crisp. About 5 minutes in a microwave steamer, 6 minutes in a conventional steamer. Place in a bowl to cool down then combine with remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Serves 6-8.


Smoky Succotash Salad

1 lb. lima beans, cooked and cooled

4 c. corn off the cob, cooked and cooled

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1-2 c. cooked ham, diced


2/3 c. sour cream

3 T. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

1 t. grated ginger

1 t. hot sauce, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Combine veggies with the ham in medium bowl. In small bowl stir together dressing ingredients until smooth and toss with the veggie mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6.


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