Ah, salads. As a child, I felt resistant to even go near a bed of greens. While I have learned to embrace vegetables and salads alike as I’ve aged, I must admit that I still sometimes view them as a precursor to the rest of the meal. Anyone who knows me knows I have a propensity to engulf my food at an alarming rate, so if I’m not in the mood for salad but know I should eat it for my well-being, those greens go down the hatch rather quickly.
I realize I haven’t posted in nearly a month due to a variety of factors: one being that with the ever-increasing presence of summer, I simply haven’t been indoors that much. I’ve also been celebrating a number of birthdays including my own in May, so I have been out to eat much more than I am accustomed to, as the treater and the one treated. That being said, I am at my girlfriend’s in NYC for the week, so I have had ample time to both cook and attempt to scribe lessons learned.
Basil’s (albeit decrepit) NYC perspective
Back to salads. One of the many things that I love about summer is the fact that the term “salad” takes on a completely different meaning. You have the traditional green leaf vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, which always provide a refreshing, classic base. Summer, as opposed to any of the other seasons, allows for a departure from these traditional green leaf salad bases. I’m an avid supporter of anything that resembles and possesses some semblance of a pasta salad. I equally enjoy quinoa salads, an ancient grain that I gravitate to for taste and because I know I’ll benefit from the healthy characteristics found within. Occasionally I’ll try my hand at a cous cous salad of some sort, but as most of us very well know (or maybe not), cous cous has very few redeeming or healthy qualities. The point I’m trying to make is that the
world salad base is your oyster. Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all viable options for accompaniments. One can make a salad into virtually anything they so choose with a little bit of creativity and innovation.
The tortellini salad below comes from the family of a classmate of mine at Ithaca College, Trevor Wolf. Shortly after graduation, Trevor invited a group of us to his home in Lansing, just outside the general vicinity of Ithaca, NY. This salad, along with many other delicacies, was presented to us and I just had to reach out to him for this recipe, as it is absolutely perfect for a crisp summer evening. I added basil as well as lemon to bring out the flavors even more. You really can’t go wrong with this one. As an added bonus, I’ve also included a simple shallot salad dressing recipe. I am a proponent of anything and everything that falls under the onion umbrella and shallots are no exception. Goes well with classic greens.
Tortellini Summer Salad
Recipe provided by Trevor Wolf
1 bag frozen tortillini, cooked and drained
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can of black olives, drained and halved
1 container feta cheese
1 to 2 jars of sundried tomatoes with olive oil, NOT drained
additional olive oil, if necessary
freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Combine all ingredients. Best enjoyed if made a day in advance, as to let it marinate.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 shallots, diced
4 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste