Most of us have that familiar go-to menu that takes little or no planning, but this summer it’s time to try something new. First, move dinner outdoors to enjoy the warmth of the sun or a star-filled summer sky. Then, fire up the grill and showcase summer’s bounty to create this delicious trio of salads for a gathering that truly shines. Regardless of whether your taste buds lean toward sweet or savory, or your appetite is light or hearty – each of these salads is tasty and inventive – and sure to please even the most discerning of dinner guests.
Bright ideas for al fresco entertaining
David Mirassou, wine expert and sixth generation of America’s oldest winemaking family, offers up these tips:
- Pressed for time? Chill wine and other drinks in 10 minutes when you layer ice and salt in a bucket, and then fill with cold water.
- Want guests to keep track of their glasses? Dip the bottom stem of wine glasses in chalkboard paint. Once dry, guests can write their names in chalk or paint pens on their glasses.
- Looking for conversation starters? Use a chalkboard paper table runner to suggest food and wine pairings, and invite guests to comment on them.
- Not sure which varietal goes with what food? Use this rule of thumb: Pair lighter foods with lighter wines, and heartier foods with heartier wines.
Steak Salad Paired with Pinot Noir
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup rinsed and drained canned white beans (from 15-ounce can, save remaining beans for salad)
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 8 ounces mixed baby greens
- 1 8-ounce grilling steak, seasoned with salt and pepper or Pinot Noir Marinade
- 1/2 cup quartered and thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup shaved fresh fennel
- 1 cup baked croutons
- 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Place all dressing ingredients in blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. Grill steak for about 5 minutes on each side; let cool slightly. Place greens, steak, onion and fennel in large bowl and toss with half the dressing. Arrange on 4 salad plates and top with croutons, cheese and remaining white beans; drizzle with remaining dressing.
For Pinot Noir Marinade – combine 1/2 cup Pinot Noir, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic in re-sealable plastic bag.
Grilled Chipotle Caesar Salad Wedges Paired with Moscato
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: about 30 minutes
- 3 cups 1/2-inch cubes of cornbread
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup good quality Caesar salad dressing
- 1 tablespoon Moscato
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into 4 wedges
- 1/2 cup diced tomato
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
- Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place cornbread cubes on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil; toss lightly to coat. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once or twice. Stir together Caesar dressing, Moscato, lime juice and chipotle peppers in small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Preheat grill to high, adding wood chips if desired. Brush small amount of dressing mixture on cut sides of romaine. Place romaine, cut side down on grill. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly charred. Place on 4 salad plates and drizzle with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with tomato, cheese, cilantro and cornbread croutons.
- Puree the whole can of chipotle peppers. Freeze in ice cube trays for future recipes.
- Try cooking romaine on a very smoky grill for a little extra flavor.
- No grill? No worries. This salad is great without the grilling step.
Mango Caprese Salad
Paired with Riesling
Servings: 8 to 10
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 3 large, ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Snipped fresh basil leaves
- Crusty toasted baguette slices
Place mango slices on platter, alternating with mozzarella slices. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with basil and serve with baguette slices.
Smoky Salmon Kabobs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 1 tbsp. ShopRite Light Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tbsp. ShopRite Canola Oil or ShopRite Grape Seed Oil, divided
- 1 lb. salmon fillets, cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1½-inch pieces
- Coat a grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium-high (350°F to 400°F). In a large re-sealable plastic bag combine brown sugar, paprika, cumin and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add salmon; seal bag, turning to coat. In a separate re-sealable plastic bag combine remaining oil, bell pepper and onion. Seal bag, turning to coat.
- Alternately thread bell pepper, salmon and onion onto 4 (12-inch) skewers.* Discard any remaining oil mixture.
- Grill skewers, covered, 5 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer to a platter, and serve.
Per Serving: 255 calories, 12g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 60mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 27g protein
- If using wooden skewers, soak at least 30 minutes before grilling to prevent burning.
Make it a meal: Serve with brown rice and grilled summer squash.
Courtesy of ShopRite
Red Hot Poppers
Yield: About 24 balls
- 3 quarts popped popcorn
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 cups red hot cinnamon flavored candies
- red and blue confection stars
- red licorice string
- Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap onto a work surface and spray within cooking spray.
- Spray a large mixing bowl lightly with cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in marshmallows until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn, adding red hot candies, and mix well until coated.
- Spray hands with cooking spray and form mixture into 24 balls. Gently press red and blue stars onto balls. Place a piece of licorice string on top of each ball.
Ginger-Blueberry Vodka Lemonade
Courtesy of Chez Mike
2 oz citron vodka (we used Kettle One)
1 oz lemon simple syrup
1 oz Lemoncello
1 oz Ginger Liqueur (Domaine de Canton)
- Muddle blueberries with lemon simple syrup
- Fill glass with ice, add vodka, lemoncello, and ginger liqueur
- Shake and top with club soda
Lemon simple syrup – 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, zest of 1 lemon. Boil all until sugar dissolves. Strain out lemon zest. Chill.
Courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn, Matt Althof
Simple Syrup with Rhubarb (house made)
Vodka (the Mirror Lake Inn’s choice is 46 Peaks Vodka)
Pacific Rim Mojito
Courtesy of Reel Seafood Co.
All muddled with simple syrup
Spicy jalapeño margarita
Courtesy of El Mariachi
Made with Leyenda del Milagro silver tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, pickled jalapeño juice and fresh lime juice. Served with a salt and piquin pepper rim.
Courtesy of Sake
Captain Morgan White Rum