The Fourth of July is the perfect holiday—though dogs and small children may find the noise unnerving. The Independence Day requires no gifts, cards, or special decorations—maybe a flag on the porch. The weather is usually decent, and the celebration comes with big sales and lots of food. What more could you ask?
The trick is to lessen the amount of labor in the kitchen. Here’s a few recipes that get me through the summer. Most are old favorites, tried and true. A few of these salads will feed a small army or, at least, fill a large mixing bowl.
Mostaccioli Pasta Salad
This Mostaccioli Salad is one of my favorite noodle salads. It’s great when you have extra garden cucumbers on hand. The recipe was given to me by a dear friend, who attended a cooking class years ago. Refrigerate any leftovers, ’cause it just gets better every day. HIghly addictive!!
Over the years, I’ve made a slew of slaws, but I’ve finally settled on this one.
Coleslaw and barbecue are old friends on the picnic circuit. I lean towards a cabbage-carrot-green pepper combo with a vinaigrette topping rather than the heavier mayo-dressed version.
Strawberry Salad with Jalapeno Dressing
Tuna Noodle Salad
Years ago my friend, Ethel, and I attended a wedding reception, where this Tuna Noodle Salad was served. We loved the hearty mixture of noodles, veggies, tuna and cheese and asked for the recipe. After that, we made it many times, always referring to the dish as John’s Wedding Salad.
The marriage didn’t last, but the salad has been a keeper. It’s a flexible salad, that you can add more or less of the ingredients as you prefer.
Tomato (or Watermelon) Caprese
Nothing is more disheartening to the fastidious grill master than standing over a hot fire all afternoon and then having his wife, or neighbor, appear with a colorful Caprese Salad that steals the show.
This has got to be the easiest, prettiest, and most beloved of the seasonal salads. The dish is on many restaurant menu throughout the year, but it’s especially good during the summer months.
Start with some wonderful garden fresh tomatoes—any color or shape. Then turn the whole thing over to the kids or the guys—as I often do—to design a pretty platter with the slices of tomato, buffalo mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. They’ll surprise you at how seriously they take the task.
Avocado Corn Salad
I include this Tortellini Salad every year in our Thanksgiving buffet at the farm. One year I left it out and my niece fussed at me about the omission. You’d thought I’d forgotten the mashed potatoes, for heaven’s sake!
The following year I misplaced the recipe and subbed a different one. She noticed. By the next Thanksgiving, I’d found the recipe! Ahh. . . at last, a happy family gathering. 😉 I now like the pasta/veggie salad so well, I serve it all year round.
Chickpea Edamame Salad
Oh, so much goodness in one bowl: corn, green onions, edamame, garbanzo beans, red peppers, and plum tomatoes all lightly marinating in a dressing of lime juice, olive oil, honey, and cumin.