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Originally published Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 6:03 AM

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Ready to update those classic picnic salads? Here are 6 recipes

Summertime is high season for eating outdoors, and there is nothing like the Fourth of July to start the party. Here are some modern takes that, in some cases, add heat and crunch to the classics..


The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer (MCT)

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Summertime is high season for eating outdoors, and there is nothing like the Fourth of July to start the party. This often means bringing a dish, usually a dessert or salad, to go with the host’s main course. With salads, the lineup is often the same: potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, baked beans, bean salad. Here are some modern takes that, in some cases, add heat and crunch to the classics.

COCONUT BLACK-EYED PEAS

Serves 8 to 10

This dish can be served warm with rice but is equally wonderful at room temperature.

1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil

¾ cup diced carrots (about 2 small carrots)

¾ cup diced yellow onion

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through (soaked overnight, if needed)

5 cups water

1½ tablespoons hot curry powder or garam masala

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large juicy orange

½ to ¾ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, shaken

½ cup fresh cilantro

Garnish: chopped red onion, chopped fresh jalapeño, lime wedges

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat; add carrots, onion, ginger, garlic and apple. Stir and let cook about three minutes, being careful not to burn. Add black-eyed peas, water, curry powder, salt, cumin and black pepper; stir and bring to a boil. Skim the froth, decrease heat to medium-low, and simmer about 40 minutes, until peas are almost tender. Stir occasionally, mashing some of the peas against the side of the pot for creaminess. Add more water, as needed, if peas are dry.

2. Add zest from one-quarter of the orange, then cut orange in half and squeeze juice into the peas. Add coconut milk and stir. Simmer, covered, for another seven to 10 minutes, until peas are tender. Taste peas and adjust the seasonings as needed. Pour peas into a large serving dish. Garnish with cilantro, red onion, jalapeños and lime wedges.

— Adapted by The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., from “A Mouthful of Stars,” by Kim Sunee (Andrews McNeel, 2014).

RED, WHITE AND BLUE POTATO SALAD

Serves 10

Red and purple potatoes, roasted red peppers, cubes of white goat cheese and several cups of blueberries carry the holiday color scheme in this salad. It also would be delicious with the addition of chicken or crumbled bacon. Alternatively, if tarragon isn’t your favorite herb, cilantro or basil would play nicely.

24 ounces small red potatoes, halved or quartered

24 ounce small purple potatoes, halved or quartered

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon

8 ounces goat milk cheddar or Gouda, diced

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup diced roasted red peppers

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until fork tender, but not falling apart, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Set aside to cool completely.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the olive oil, mustard and tarragon. When the potatoes have cooled, add them to the bowl, as well as the cheddar, blueberries and roasted red peppers. Stir gently to coat with the dressing. Chill for one hour to let flavors develop.

—Alison Ladman, The Associated Press

MACARONI SALAD

Serves 8

This macaroni salad is for fans of coleslaw and egg salad with its addition of red cabbage and hard-cooked eggs. Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce can be found with Mexican ingredients at grocery stores.

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces elbow macaroni

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and diced

½ cup grated carrot

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup finely diced red onion

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

½cup diced sweet cucumber pickles

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced

¼ teaspoon cumin

1. Put cabbage in a strainer and then place strainer in a bowl. Toss cabbage with salt and refrigerator for an hour. This step will drain cabbage of its excess water and keep it crisp in the salad.

2, Cook macaroni according to the package instructions, drain, rinse and refrigerate for at least one hour.

3. One hour later, take cabbage from strainer and place in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, carrot, garlic, red onion, cilantro, pickles and macaroni.

4. Whist together mayonnaise, lime juice, mustard, chipotle chili and cumin. Spoon dressing over salad and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. (While it should be chilled enough to eat immediately, it will be even better if refrigerated for at least an hour before serving.)

— Adapted by The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., from “The Homesick Texan’s Family’s Table,” by Lisa Fain (Ten Speed Press, 2014).

CURRIED CARROT RAISIN SALAD

Serves 4 to 6

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably homemade, recipe follows)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Juice of 1 lemon

1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded (about 4 cups)

2 cups good-quality raisins

1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced

Mix mayonnaise with curry powder, salt, cayenne and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Fold in carrots, raisins and parsley. Refrigerate for an hour or up to four hours to allow flavors to develop.

— Adapted by The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., from “Down South,” by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

HOMEMADE CURRY POWDER

Makes ¼ cup

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Heaping ¼ teaspoon cayenne

1. Toast cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until seeds are lightly browned and fragrant, two to three minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

2. Add turmeric, dry mustard and cayenne and mix to combine. Grind spices in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container for up to two months.

— From “Down South,” by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

GINGERED APPLE SLAW

Serves 4 to 6

Chef Donald Link suggests these apple varieties for this slaw: Gala, Braeburn and Golden Delicious.

4 apples, cored and cut into matchsticks, about 4 cups

½ cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon ginger juice (see note below)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 large jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 ounces crispy prosciutto or country ham, optional

Use a rubber spatula to combine sliced apples in a medium bowl with mayonnaise, lemon juice, ginger juice, cilantro and jalapeño; season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with prosciutto if desired.

Note: Use a box grater or large-toothed Microplane to grate about 2 tablespoons ginger. Use your fingers to squeeze juice from grated pulp. If you prefer, you can use a garlic press to extract the pungent juice from a slice of fresh ginger. If you want to add crispy prosciutto to the salad, thinly slice the ham and fry it in a couple of tablespoons oil until crisp, about three minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Break ham into small pieces over salad.

— Adapted by The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., from “Down South,” by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

SHADES OF GREEN SALAD

Serves 6

Fresh green beans, asparagus, snow peas and zucchini combine for a fresh and delicious take on a not-so-basic green salad. For good measure, we also pile on some fresh dill and avocado slices. A zippy orange-Dijon vinaigrette ties everything together.

12 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 cup snow peas, sliced lengthwise

1 medium zucchini, halved, seeds scraped out, then cut into thin half moons

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons grated shallot

Zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 avocado, sliced

Manchego cheese, to serve

Fresh dill, to serve

Honey, to serve

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and have it near the stove.

2. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch for one to two minutes, or until crisp-tender and bright green. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer them from the boiling water to the ice water. While the green beans cool, add the asparagus to the boiling water and blanch for three to four minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks, until just barely tender. Transfer the asparagus to the ice water with the green beans.

3. Once they have cooled, drain the green beans and asparagus, pat them dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add the snow peas and zucchini.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, shallot, orange zest and juice, vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir gently to coat well. For best flavor, allow the vegetables to marinate in the dressing for at least 30 minutes.

5. Serve topped with sliced avocado, grated manchego cheese, sprigs of dill and a drizzle of honey.

— Alison Ladman, The Associated Press



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