Joni Woolf: Salads for summer days

Published 3:29 pm Friday, August 4, 2017

As July drifts towards its steamy end, some of us are looking for simple things to cook, things that don’t require a great deal of time standing over the stove. August is nearing and summer is already getting a little tired, so we want food that is not only easy to prepare, but that is appealing to the eye — food that “looks” cool. That may be a bit of a stretch, but a salad that has a good bit of green in it has eye appeal that an all-white or yellow offering does not.
In this mood, I began a search through some of my old recipes and came across several that fit the bill. Some were collected from magazines; others came from friends. It is not a pretty collection. Housed in a large, gray notebook, this collection is made up of pages torn from many different magazines, hand-written notes as well as carefully typed ones; one is even on the back of a calendar page from 30 years ago — the front of the page says “Gone to Kroger, be right back,” a reminder of another time in my life.
These recipes are easy to prepare and should be made even easier with all the fresh ingredients that are still available at local markets. So, stir up some salads for side dishes, or add some cheese and bread and a glass of wine and you have a meatless meal.

Tomato, Corn and Feta Salad
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups baby arugula (or baby spinach)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. tomatoes, sliced
Combine corn, arugula, feta, oregano, oil and vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve tomatoes topped with corn mixture.

Tangy Collard & Cabbage Slaw
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch collard greens, stems discarded and leaves shredded
½ small head green cabbage, shredded
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled (this could be omitted for vegetarian recipe)
Combine onion, vinegar, mustard, honey and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand, tossing occasionally, until onion is wilted, 5 to 10 minutes. Add collard greens and cabbage, and toss to coat. Chill 15 minutes. Toss in bacon. (If you want to throw diet to the winds, grill hot dogs till nicely browned, and top with this great slaw.)

Summer Bean Salad
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups fresh butterbeans
1 cup fresh black-eyed peas
½ pound smoked ham hock
1 cup fresh creamer peas
½ cup sugar snap peas
½ pound yellow wax beans (I omit these and add 1 cup raw corn kernels)
½ cup chopped almonds
Whisk together oil, lemon juice, green onion, garlic and thyme in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place butter beans, black-eyed peas and ham hock in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Simmer, covered, until almost tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add creamer peas and simmer until peas and beans are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard ham hock. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Cook wax beans (or corn kernels) and sugar snaps in boiling salted water in medium sauce-pan until crisp-tender, 2-4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Add beans, peas and almonds to dressing, and toss to combine.

Ginger Cucumbers and Peppers
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
2 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
½ pound mini sweet peppers, sliced
½ red onion, chopped
1/3 cup torn, fresh basil
Combine oil, vinegar, ginger, sugar and pepper flakes in a bowl. Season with salt. Add cucumbers, peppers, onion and basil and toss to combine. Chill 15 minutes. Very cool dish, with a hint of heat.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at