DON'T BUTTER YOUR BREAD;
Salads are welcome any time of year, but summer and early autumn is when cooling salads are most appreciated for their brilliant colors, crunchy textures, fresh flavors, and nourishing ingredients. Here are four international bread salads that provide ways to put stale breads to use and combine them with a healthy dose of fresh vegetables.
These recipes provide an opportunity for you to add your own special touch. Simply omit ingredients that may not be on your list of favorites and replace them with veggies you love.
Perhaps you're quite the gardener and are growing some veggies in your summer garden. When they ripen, put your own special spin on any of the recipes by incorporating herbs and vegetables plucked fresh from the garden. Nothing compares to the delicate sweetness and fresh flavor that comes from home-grown vegetables.
Fatoush salad has its origins in Lebanon, where many households baked their own pita breads and were careful to avoid wasting them. To make use of every crumb, they simply added torn bits of day-old bread to a fresh salad. Fittingly, fatoush means "crumbled bread" in Arabic.
There are multiple ways to present the bread. Where some families unceremoniously tore the pita into pieces, others cut it into thin strips and toasted it in the oven until crisp. Sprinkled over the top of the salad, the toasted pita added a delightful crunchy quality.
A unique spice, sumac perks up the salad with a pleasing lemony flavor and can be added directly into the salad as well as sprinkled on top as garnish. If you're unable to locate sumac, this will still be an enjoyable bread salad. The beans are not a traditional addition, but they do make the salad a bit heartier. Feel free to leave them out if you prefer. Ground sumac is readily available in Middle Eastern markets.
LEBANESE FATOUSH SALAD
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
1 (15-ounce/424g) can fava or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 green or bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 Persian or pickling cucumbers, chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/4 to 1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac, divided
2 whole-wheat pita breads, torn into bite size pieces or cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) wide strips
1 recipe Lemon Oregano Dressing (Recipe below)
Lemon Oregano Dressing
Yield: 1 3/4 cups (420 ml)
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Note: If you store extra virgin olive oil in the refrigerator and use it in this recipe, remove the dressing from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving to make it more pourable.
This hearty, main-dish salad from Australia typically features strips of steak. To turn the meaty dish into a vegan extravaganza, I've substituted cubes of seasoned baked tofu and thin slices of marinated, roasted Portobello mushrooms that contribute delicious umami flavor.
If you plan to serve this robust salad as one of several buffet dishes or a side dish, you'll love that it goes a long way and possibly serves 8 to 10 people. The salad does not contain any greens, but if desired, add torn romaine or salad greens of your choice.
Because this richly-flavored salad includes some cooked as well as raw vegetables, be sure to plan extra time for preparation. Don't let the long list of directions scare you. While there is a little extra prep-time to prepare this salad, you'll find the pleasing flavors and textures absolutely delightful and the dish wonderfully rewarding.
AUSTRALIAN BREAD SALAD
Yield: 6 servings
2 to 3 portobellos or 8 ounces (226g) cremini mushrooms, cut into thin slices
1/2 head medium-sized cauliflower, chopped
2 1/2 cups (600 mg) frozen peas, divided
2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 recipe Lemon Oregano Dressing
Note: If you prepare the salad in advance, add the peas shortly before serving to retain their bright cheery color. Once marinated, the peas darken to an olive-green shade after a few hours.
Many Mexican recipes are built around tortillas, either fresh or baked until crisp. For this recipe, you can simply tear the fresh tortillas into pieces, cut the them into strips, or toast the pieces in the oven until crisp.
The tortillas can be tossed into the salad or used as garnish. If you prefer crisp tortillas in the salad, buy baked corn chips and crumble them into the salad.
If you prefer to use fresh tortillas, keep them well wrapped and refrigerated until ready to use. If left uncovered on the kitchen counter, they will become hard and dry within a day or two. Those dry tortillas can be baked until crisp and tossed into the salad or used as nachos or broken into soups.
Fresh or roasted chiles are a familiar ingredient in Mexican dishes. For that spice-of-life touch, consider adding sliced jalapenos or strips of roasted, peeled poblano chiles to the salad. Canned, cooked chiles are also available in the grocery aisle with international foods.
MEXICAN TORTILLA SALAD
Yield: 6 servings
1 (14-ounce/370g) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (6-ounce/167g) can black olives, well drained and halved
4 fresh corn tortillas, torn into bite size pieces, or cut into thin slivers about 2 inches (5 cm) long.
1 recipe Lemon Oregano Dressing or Chipotle Lime Ranch dressing (Recipe below)
Note: To refresh dried out tortillas, wet them on both sides by running them under the faucet. Drain them well and heat them very briefly on a low setting in the toaster before cutting or tearing them.
Chipotle Lime Ranch Dressing
Zesty, full-flavored, and ultra-thick, this delicious dressing pops with the lively perk of chipotle powder, a variety of chile that enhances the creamy, ranch-style flavors. I keep silken tofu on hand so I can bring this dressing to the table within moments. The dressing also doubles as a delicious dipping sauce for fresh artichokes and makes a great topping on baked potatoes.
Yield: 2 1/4 cups (540 ml)
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
Tofu Sour Cream
Sour cream puts the finishing touch on many dishes, especially Mexican specialties that are easily enhanced with a dollop or drizzle of the creamy white sauce. I use extra-firm silken tofu and drain it well to create the closest replica in taste and texture to real sour cream. For best results, prepare the sour cream several hours or even a day ahead and put it in the refrigerator. The recipe needs several hours in the refrigerator to thicken and reach the ideal consistency.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)
1/4 cup (60 mg) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to thicken. Stored in a tightly covered container and refrigerated, Tofu Sour Cream will keep 1 week.
This colorful salad, called Panzanella, comes from Tuscany and makes a perfect choice for those hot days of summer and early autumn when it feels too hot to cook. This easy, no fuss recipe is packed with flavor and goodness. The blend of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar delivers a wallop of zesty flavor, while the medley of vegetables shows off the colors of Southern Italy. Salad enhancements might include sliced black or stuffed green olives and a sprinkle of Parmesan for some real paisano flavor. This salad needs no added dressing--the dressing is included in the recipe.
(Italian Bread Salad)
Yield: about 5 to 6 servings
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella, for garnish
Note: If you prepare the salad a day ahead, omit the bread, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil to prevent the bread from becoming soggy. Add those items about 30 to 60 minutes before serving so the salad has time to marinate.