Cooking with Claire: Summer salads

Chinese chicken salad made with shredded cabbage, chicken top ramen soup, shredded chicken, scallions, and slivered almonds.  (Jessica Merz/Flickr Creative Commons)

Chinese chicken salad made with shredded cabbage, chicken top ramen soup, shredded chicken, scallions, and slivered almonds.  (Jessica Merz/Flickr Creative Commons)

After several fake outs, it finally seems like spring weather is here to stay, with summer weather hopefully following shortly. When it gets hot out, a lot of people don’t like eating heavy and hot foods. I feel the same way. Summer should be filled with quick sandwiches, cereals and salads. Sometimes lettuce can get a little boring, and all those fruits and veggies can be expensive. Pasta salads can be a great alternative.

I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise salads. Mayonnaise is a freak of nature, and often very heavy on the palate. I prefer different dressings. I’m including two family favorites, a Chinese chicken salad and a more traditional pasta salad. Both are quick and easy.

 

Chinese Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

One head shredded cabbage

Two packages chicken top ramen soup

One pound cooked and shredded chicken

One bunch chopped green onions (scallions)

One package slivered almonds

 

Dressing:

One cup sugar

Two seasoning packets from top ramen

Three-quarters cup oil

Three-quarters red wine vinegar

 

Directions:

Combine dressing ingredients and shake or mix well. Mix cabbage, chicken, onions and almonds. Toss with dressing.

Crunch noodles and mix in well. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to soften noodles and blend flavors.

 

Ham pasta salad perfectly complements a picnic lunch or perfect on their own on a warm summer day.  (mamichan/Flickr Creative Commons)

Ham pasta salad perfectly complements a picnic lunch or perfect on their own on a warm summer day.  (mamichan/Flickr Creative Commons)

Ham Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

One and one-quarter pound fully cooked ham

24-ounce bottle of fat-free Italian dressing

One-pound box of corkscrew pasta

One red and one yellow or orange sweet pepper

Two small cucumbers

Grape tomatoes (optional)

Grated or slivered carrots

10-ounce box of frozen corn

 

Directions:

Cook pasta. Two minutes before pasta is done put in carrots.

Drain and put into a large serving bowl.

Add chopped veggies and stir well.

Add half of the dressing bottle and stir well.

Chill for several hours. Add other half of the dressing bottle before serving.

 

Both of these recipes are very easy to make, and very easy to bring to a party or picnic.

The Chinese salad is an interesting take on ramen noodles. You can tell your mom you made a pasta salad but, really, you made ramen noodles.

The ham pasta salad is purposefully vague in terms of how much of the veggies to add. In general, I usually add even amounts of all the veggies. If you’re making a full box of pasta, I usually add one and one-half cups of each veggie. If you are looking to only serve four or five people, maybe three-quarters cup of each veggie would be a good ratio.

Perfect to complement a picnic lunch or perfect on their own on a warm summer day, these tasty salads are a welcome update to mayonnaise pasta salads.


Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.