Caprese salad means summer to me. There is something extraordinary about fresh in-season tomatoes, basil picked from the garden, and mozzarella served on a platter and eaten outside. It is so fresh and simple. Perfection. A meal onto itself. At least for me. I could eat one every day.
On my bucket list is to tour Italy on my stomach. The food traditions of a country can tell you a lot about the country. I want to experience a Caprese in a beach-side restaurant. The salad is beloved in Italy. It originates from Campania on Italy’s southwest coast. Different origin tales abound. To be patriotic, it incorporates the colors of Italy’s flag: red, white, and green. The other story is that it was created for a 1930s Futuris dinner by the chef of a hotel on the island of Capri.
What makes a Caprese salad so special?
First, it is the simple ingredients: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, oil olive, and salt. The ingredients must be the freshest you can find. All ingredients are essential, but tomatoes are key. Seek out your local farmer’s market or farm stand for your tomatoes. The next ingredient is mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is the best. Bypass the dry, rubbery stuff. I’m lucky we have Italian delis on the island, such as Bottega Bocconi and Mozz, where I can get the highest quality mozzarella. Next, invest in good-quality olive oil to drizzle over your tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. While researching for this post, I found that it is not traditional to drizzle balsamic vinegar on the salad—something I’ve been doing for years. The only dressing should be olive oil. Next Caprese salad I make, I will dress it with just olive oil to see how it will taste the “proper” way.
Deconstructed Caprese Salad
With my deconstructed Caprese salad, I threw tradition out the window. I used mozzarella pearls, multi-colored cherry tomatoes, torn basil, and lettuce with a simple balsamic dressing. Also, I broke my own rules on a Caprese salad and everything came from BJs. I tossed it all together, and that’s it. The lettuce bulked up the salad, making it more of a meal salad. Two thumbs up from my guys.
Yet anyway. I used dairy mozzarella for this recipe. I wasn’t brave enough to seek out plant-based mozzarella. But I am planning on it. I really like Miyoko’s products. Their vegan butters are as good as diary butter. They offer vegan mozzarella. I will try to find it locally to try it.
Are you looking for more salads? Go here.
BBQ Chickpea Salad is a Rainbow
Rainbows make everyone smile. BBQ chickpea salad is a rainbow of colors, textures, and tastes. A family favorite salad meal that delights my guys and it is meatless. We love our salads in this house especially in the summertime.
Calling this a dump salad is doing it a disservice, but it is chop and toss. Just looking at the salad makes me smile with the layers of colors. Packed with lots of veg such as corn, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce. Warmed chickpeas in BBQ sauce tops it.
Simple and quick week day meal.
Weekdays can be busy any time of year, but when it is hot outside, I like to keep it easy. I use canned corn and grate my carrots, but you can use fresh corn and slice the carrots. We like blue cheese dressing (not vegan), but ranch works well with it. Do whatever works for you.
Looking for another great salad to enjoy during the summer? Try a bread salad.
- - 3 heads romaine lettuce
- - 1 English cucumber sliced
- - 2-4 tomatoes chopped
- - 1 can corn rinsed and drained
- - 1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- - BBQ sauce to coat chickpeas
- - Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing
- - Rinse and drain corn and chickpeas.
- - Chop lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes.
- - Heat chickpeas and BBQ sauce.
- - Toss dressing with salad.
- - Top salad with chickpeas.
Summertime and the livin’ is easy. The farmer’s markets are filling with the summer’s best. White bean melon salad is a perfect combination of the melons coming into season now and a pantry staple of beans creating a filling meal on the quick.
I have to be honest, until I started moving towards plant-based eating, I never would have thought to combine fruit with beans in a salad. In fact, my response would have been that’s gross. I kept my fruit away from everything. How closed tasted I was!
Quick with a short ingredient list
This salad is quick with a short ingredient list. It can be pulled together in less than 15-minutes. All it is is: cantaloupe, cannellini beans, shallots, mint, white balsamic vinegar, and fresh pepper. While you don’t have to let the beans, shallots, and white balsamic vinegar sit together, I’d recommend it. It allows for the flavors to blend.
So simple and so fresh. And looks totally posh. A perfect summer meal. For another salad, try the roasted sweet potato lentil feta salad.
- - 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- - 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- - 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- - Sea salt to taste
- - Freshly ground pepper to taste
- - 1 cantaloupe, seeded and peeled
- 1. Combine beans, shallots, mint, and vinegar tossing. Season with salt.
- 2. Arrange melon and top with bean mixture and freshly ground pepper.
Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
For the past two weeks, it has been hot here in Newport. Our house doesn’t have air conditioning – units or central – it can get pretty toasty. Not a pleasurable environment to cook anything, but we still have to eat. This is a super simple tasty summer meal. Or nice side to chicken or fish.
I have a Phillips Air Flyer. It makes french fries, baked potatoes, chicken, and donuts. Today, I decided to see if I could roast veg in it. I didn’t want to turn the oven onto 400 and roast for 30-40 minutes. The kitchen was already 86 degrees so adding to the heat doesn’t seem ideal. I chopped up peeled sweet potatoes, carrots, and red onion then combined them with some oil olive and a pinch of chili flakes. Preheat the Air Fryer at 360 or 375 depending on your Air Flyer running it for 10 minutes. Add the veg into the basket. Cook for 10min, shake, then another 5-10min. An air flyer is a worthy investment. Fried foods without the fat and mess.
Let’s talk about lentils. My pantry is stocked with a few different types of lentils such as brown, yellow, and French. This recipe calls for French lentils which can be hard to find. Some grocery stores s stock them, but your best bet is a health food store where they have self-serve bins of beans and lentils. That’s where I found the French lentils was at my local A Mart which is a regional well-stocked natural food store in Newport.
To cook lentils, weight what you need out, rinse, then put in a saucepan. Add the lentils, a bay leaf, salt, and water making sure it covers the lentils. Put on the stove with the lid on high for about 20-30 minutes. Test it along the way. I’m bad at setting timers so I have guess and test.
The question of cheese arises. You can use goat or cow’s milk feta for a vegetarian meal. To make it vegan, you can omit the feta or use a vegan feta cheese. Any way you serve it, it will be tasty.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad is super easy to make and is a quick, healthy summer dinner. Want more plant-based recipes? Go here.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
- - 2 large carrots, cut into cubes or sliced baby carrots
- - 1 red onion, finely sliced
- - 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled cut into cubes
- - 3 tbsp olive oil
- - Pinch dried chilli flakes
- - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- - Pinch of salt
- - 250g cooked French lentils
- - 1 Bay Leaf
- - Feta, crumbled
- - 2-4 hand full of greens
- - Preheat the oven to 400F or 300C. See post for Air Fryer instructions.
- - Put the carrot, onion and sweet potato in a large shallow baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and the chili flakes.
- - Roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally, or until tender and turning golden.
- - Make the lentils according to the pack instructions adding salt and bay leaf.
- - Serve lentil on a bed of greens.
- - Top with the roasted vegetables and crumbled feta.
- - Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Simple Bean Salad is a No Cook Side
Let us face it. No one regardless of how great your air conditioning is during the summer, you still hesitate turning your stove on to make something. This simple bean salad is a perfect no cook side or a nice vegetarian meal for the summer.
It is easy to make and beats anything you can buy pre-made out of a bottle or can. Sure it takes 15 to 20 minutes longer than opening a can, but it will taste a lot better and you can control the intensity of flavors.
Try some other sides and salads
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- A few generous turns of the pepper mill
- Combine beans, celery, red onion, parsley, and rosemary in a large bowl.
- Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Mix dressing throughly with the bean mixture.
- Serve chilled or at room temp.
Simple Pasta Salad for the Summer
It is the dead of summer where there is no escaping the heat and humidity. Too hot to grill even to grill. No one really wants to turn on the stove especially in the afternoon. I am no exception. Even boiling water feels too much. Making this simple pasta salad is worth turning on the stove for it though. I like to make the pasta salad in the morning while the air conditioning is still running before it switches over to day mode. Making it early allows the flavors to blend together by dinner.
l keep this salad as simple as possible. I use whatever smallish pasta I have in the pantry. In the summertime, I usually have fresh tomatoes and seedless cucumbers on hand. I do not usually have bottled salad dressings outside of real blue cheese dressing. I prefer to make my own such as Buttermilk-Basil and Basic Italian vinaigrette. The flavor is so much better and fresh tasting. Just takes a couple of minutes longer than it does to shake the bottle. It is also good to finely grate fresh parmesan cheese. Worth the extra effort on both counts. Really.
This simple pasta salad is good as a side to grilled meats and seafood as a stand alone meal.
- 1 16oz box of small pasta such as elbow
- 1 seedless cucumber, sliced and quartered
- 6 tomatoes
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- Basic Italian Vinaigrette
- Boil water of pasta and cook according to directions on the box and drain setting aside.
- Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions placing in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle Italian seasoning into the grated parmesan cheese.
- Mix pasta with vegetables then add cheese and Italian vinaigrette.
- Chill for at least two hours.
- Serves a huge crowd and/or many lunches for days to come.