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WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Your favorite frugal summer salads

Posted June 9, 2011

Today's Thursday Thoughts is all about frugal salads. With all the great in-season produce deals and fresh veggies from your own gardens, there are so many tasty and frugal salad options.  Don't forget the additional savings because you aren't running the oven and heating up the house during the hottest months of the year.

Let's use this post to share our favorite summer salads. Thanks to jdouglas who suggested this topic in the Monday Meal plan this week!

Here are some websites with a number of great looking summer salads:

Southern Living summer salads HERE

All recipes.com summer salads HERE

Allrecipes.com Main Dish salad recipes HERE

We love pasta salad and since pasta is usually free or close to it, this is also a very frugal meal. I use either light mayo,  Italian dressing (depends on what I have on hand), or a basic oil and vinegar homemade dressing and then add veggies like chopped tomatoes, green and/or red peppers, vidalia onions or green onions, black olive slices, etc. I make it at least 3 or 4 hours before needed so it has time to get cold in the fridge before serving. When using it as more of a main dish, I add a protein like chopped chicken breast, imitation crab meat, cooked shrimp, tuna or sauteed tofu.

My favorite summer salad is Broccoli Slaw with Ramen Noodles.  If you have never had this salad, you may be raising your eyebrows at the mention of ramen noodles in a cold salad. I promise - you are in for a treat. The ramen noodles become perfectly soft in the delicious dressing and the nuts add an excellent flavor. It's ideal for a potluck or picnic, because it has no dairy products. Although the almonds are not exactly frugal, this recipe only calls for 1/3 cup.

This salad sits overnight and is eaten the next day. It takes a good 8 hours for the noodles to soak up the dressing and become nice and soft.

Broccoli Slaw with Ramen Noodles

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil (if you like an oily dressing, use 2/3 cup oil. If you like it more dry, use ½ cup. I measure halfway between the two for my slaw)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
Seasoning packets from ramen noodles

Dry Ingredients:
1 pkg. broccoli slaw mix (found in the refrigerated packaged salad section in the produce dept.)
1/3 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
2 packages beef ramen noodles (broken into small pieces – but not crushed)
1 bunch green onions sliced

Mix oil, sugar, vinegar and seasoning packets together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix together broccoli mix, almonds, sunflower seeds, sliced green onions and ramen noodles (broken up). Add dressing to broccoli and noodles and mix well. Let stand for a few hours and toss again so all the noodles are coated with the dressing. I usually make this the night before I am serving it. When I get up in the morning, I mix it up again. A few hours later I mix it again. Just before I serve it, I mix it one more time. Serve cold and enjoy!

What are your favorite summer salads?





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  • ddefoe Jun 10, 2011

    Pasta Salad

    1 Box Mueller's Tri Color Rotini (The Colored Curlie Noodles), add diced Cucumbers, Onion, Tomato's, and Bell Peppers. about 1/2 to 1 cup each, according to your taste. Mix, adding Italian Dressing. Serve Cold.

  • pirategirl12 Jun 9, 2011

    Teacher: I have made the salad before with splenda and it was just as yummy. :)

  • abswitala Jun 9, 2011

    Banana Salad! Lettuce topped with sliced bananas and sweet homemade dressing. The dressing is a mixture of mayo, sugar, and milk. This dressing also goes well over grapes, apples and raisins.

  • thekeslings Jun 9, 2011

    We also do cucumbers from the garden with mozz. cheese and balsamic vinegar (just vinegar for me and dressing mix for everyone else). Also cashew chicken rotini salad is yummy.... cooked chicken, grapes, green onions, cooked rotini, pineapple chunks, dried cranberries with ranch and mayo for dressing.

  • marybethwright06 Jun 9, 2011

    Baby spinach and lite poppyseed dressing ... you can build on this but this is all you need. Nice additions are dried fruit, boiled eggs or cheese crumbles.

  • jdouglas13 Jun 9, 2011

    Macaroni Tuna salad - 1 lb macaroni cooked only to al dente, 4 cans tuna, 2-3 ribs chopped celery, 1 fresh pepper (any color) chopped, 1/4 of a red onion chopped, 5-6 radishes halved and very thinly sliced, 3 tablespoons or so of sliced green olives stuffed with pimento or to taste. Mix together. Dressing - start with 1/3 cup each Hellmann's mayo and sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon garlic powder or dried minced garlic and a couple of teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle salad generously with season salt. Mix dressing into salad. Sometimes I need more dressing. Adjust to your taste. Make early in the day and serve cold.

  • jdouglas13 Jun 9, 2011

    Penne pasta, grilled veggies, a bit of garlic, S&P, and a drizzle of EVOO.

    Caesar salad (shrimp, steak, chicken optional). Homemade dressing in a blender or food processor. Very easy, and well worth the effort!! Two smashed cloves of garlic cooked in 2 T. EVOO just until fragrant. Let cool a bit, add to FP, then add 1 can rinsed anchovies, 2 t. dijon, 1 egg, juice of 2 fresh lemons, black pepper, a couple of shots of worcestershire and process. Transfer to a ziploc container with a screw on lid, add about 3/4 cup of EVOO (to taste), and shake very well. The salad is made with romaine hearts, topped lightly with dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons. Toss well. The invidual components can be made in advance, but don't combine until ready to serve.

  • teacher Jun 9, 2011

    Faye, do you think the broccoli slaw would work with a sugar substitute?

  • jdouglas13 Jun 9, 2011

    Sliced cucumbers, chopped green onions, sour cream, season salt. Great on a hot evening.

    Green salad with leftover thinly sliced grilled chicken or steak. I make this with this BOGO london broil marinated in A1 sauce before grilling. It really stretches a small amount of meat. Nice add-ins are fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh peppers. sliced radishes, and a little crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola. The dressing for this is simply EVOO and balsamic vinegar. I have also added some cooked rice and a bit of cooked corn to this salad when I had to stretch it from 2 servings to 5.

    A salad dressing that could not be easier made in a 2 cup screw-top Ziploc container. Soften 2 or 3 tablespoons honey for a few secs in container in the microwave. Add 1/2 cup cider, rice, or wine vinegar, 1/2 cup EVOO, S&P, a good pinch of garlic powder or minced garlic, 1 teaspoon dijon. Shake very well, taste to adjust. I often add a couple of tablespoons of frozen OJ concentrate or POM juice.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jun 9, 2011

    I also like sliced tomatoes from our garden, sliced cucumbers from our garden and sliced mozzarella cheese sprinkled with light parmesan romano salad dressing. This is one of my girls' favorite "salads".