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Summer salads for those hot weekends!

With weather in the high 90’s last weekend, it was pretty important to not make our house any hotter than it was by trying to cook something. We were also moving, so having something quick, easy and heartier than a standard salad was a win. (Look for our apartment “kitchen remodel” results- coming soon!)

I’ve got a line-up of quick and easy salads coming down the pipeline, made with yummy fresh veggies from our Omache farm CSA share. If you are looking for something like a CSA box, but didn’t sign up last spring, or don’t like to commit to the whole season, Deep Roots farm has a great option of two sizes of “farmer’s choice” boxes that are available for purchase on the Palouse Grown Market website and pick-up at the Tuesday Growers market at the 1912 building in Moscow. Other veggies and herbs used here came from the Wednesday Pullman Farmer’s Market where I got them from the good people of the WSU Organic Farm. Summer is in full swing and there is so much great local food around! Let’s get started with a couple classic summertime salads:

Classic chicken salad:

It is amazing how often roasting one of our pasture-raised chickens from Link’d Hearts Ranch, saves me from making bad food choices in our busy lifestyle! This chicken salad is a great example – when we last go back from a trip to Montana, we didn’t have anything in the fridge and it was late. I threw one of our whole, frozen chickens into the crockpot overnight. It hadn’t fully fit in the crockpot and by morning was unfortunately still undercooked in places, so I left the slow cooker on low for the next day as well. I wouldn’t recommend cooking the chicken for this long, it lost most of it’s texture and structure – making it perfect to shred and use for tacos and chicken salad… As they say “use it up, use it out, make it do or do without”

2 cups shredded chicken

1/2 cup mayo (can be homemade from local ingredients)

1/4 cup of your favorite mustard

1/4 cup sliced scallions

1/4 cup sliced celery

a pinch of salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar (your favorite – optional) to taste

Mix it all together in a medium bowl and add the flavor ingredients to taste, this will keep in the fridge for several days.

*This is another dish where the portions are relative and to taste, This “salad” can be as simple or as complex as you like. I have even had some success in the past, swapping plain/Greek yogurt out for some of the mayonnaise.

Using this as a base recipe, these ingredients can be added to or modified – optional add-ins that can be mixed and matched include red peppers, radishes, dried cherries or cranberries, almonds or sunflower seeds, whatever you like and have on hand! Herbs (fresh or dried) and spices like dill, parsley, thyme or curry powder, can help mix-up this recipe too. There are also different possibilities for how to serve this chicken salad: on a bed of lettuce, spinach and/or purple cabbage, as a salad, or as a wrap or sandwich to make it “food in hand” for life on the go!

Classic cucumber salad with fresh tomatoes and basil vinaigrette (shown above):

Appealing to many audiences this one is a great accompaniment to your summer BBQ, and again can be modified according to your dietary requirements and preferences. It is also quick and easy!

Makes 3-4 cups of salad

2 cucumbers – (they can be peeled or not and diced or sliced, again depending on your preferences)

1-2 tomatoes – (again can be sliced or diced, depending on the texture you would like for your salad)

3 scallions/green onions – sliced finely

lots of thinly sliced basil (chiffonade)

*sweet red bell peppers (optional)

*mozzarella, feta, parmesean… (optional)

olive oil

red wine vinegar, lemon juice or similar lightly flavored “acid”

salt, pepper, sugar, garlic powder, (1/2 tsp) mustard

Mix the veggies, and cheese if you are using it, into a medium sized bowl –

you can add basil now, just before serving or anywhere in between this can be played with some for different effects

In a separate bowl mix the oil and vinegar with a fork, add in (optional) mustard and other flavor components to taste and mix with the veggies. You can serve this right away, or you can get a light pickle effect if you make it ahead. Regardless, this is my go-to salad when all the cucumbers seem to be taking off and a diverse crowd wants to be “cool as cucumbers.”

If you are looking for lots of cukes, be sure to get in touch with the WSU Organic Farm ASAP, they are running a special price for bulk cucumbers but not for long…

What is your favorite chicken salad variation? What do you love to eat when it is too hot to move (see what I did there?)? Do you have a go-to cucumber salad? Please share in the comments!

Always with gratitude- especially to Shane McFarland for helping to clean up the messes I make!

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