Cool Off With Summer Salads

Outdoor dishes that hold up in the heat.

My parents’ wedding anniversary was July Fourth, and our celebration always included patriotic themes. Oftentimes, we visited the beach to mark the day with an extended cookout, which was capped off with a patriotic dessert and local fireworks display. Since the cooks of the house were relieved of duty for the main course (grilled hot dogs), they concentrated on a variety of salads and side dishes. These salads are perfect for outdoor dining because they can hold up to summer heat. The potato-and-green-bean salad is a cold variation of a common side dish, and the Asian slaw takes advantage of the strong aroma and flavor of toasted sesame oil.

Potato and Green-bean Salad

3 pounds of waxy potatoes (red or Yukon Gold)
1 pound of green beans
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
 

Trim the green beans, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook them for four minutes in boiling saltwater, then place in an ice-water bath to stop cooking and retain bright-green color. Drain and place aside. Wash the potatoes, and cook for 10-12 minutes in boiling saltwater. Allow to cool slightly. Remove the skins, if you prefer, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Mix the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the potatoes, and stir well. Let them marinate for one hour or overnight. Just before serving, mix in the green beans and parsley. Makes eight servings.
 

Asian Slaw

1 large head of napa or savoy cabbage
1 red pepper
1 cup bean sprouts
1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup flavored rice-wine vinegar
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
 

Cut off the end of the cabbage, and trim off the outer leaves. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut across to create thin strips. Remove the seeds from the pepper(s), and use a knife or mandolin to cut into very thin strips. Add the peppers and bean sprouts to the cabbage. Make the dressing with vinegar, oils and soy sauce. Toss to coat, and top with toasted nuts prior to serving.

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