Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Death to lumpy summer salads

I've always made my potato salad using red-skinned potatoes -- and leaving the skin on. They cook up beautifully and hold up nicely when tossed with other ingredients. You see distinct potato elements when you use the red potatoes. Nothing (OK, maybe Gene Simmons in a Speedo) is worse than potato salad that's mushy. Frankly, that kind of potato salad is nothing more than cold mashed potatoes all glumped together under the guise of mustard.

Here's a recipe idea from the folks at McCormick, and while they're in the dried spice business, I'll bet this is even better made with fresh thyme and oregano. Be sure to toss the potatoes in the dressing while still warm so that they can absorb more of the aromatic flavor.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Oregano leaves
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons drained capers
Bring potatoes and water to cover to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low;
simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain well.
Mix oil, vinegar, oregano and thyme in large bowl until well blended. Add warm
potatoes; toss to coat. Add tomatoes and capers; toss gently to coat.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 4 (1-cup) servings.
Nutrition Information Per One Serving: 159 Calories, Fat 7g, Protein 3g,
Carbohydrates 21g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 137mg, Fiber 3g

Pasta salad, too, can turn into a gelatinous mass. This one is bright, colorful and ready to hit the picnic circuit. Don't overcook the pasta, though, or it will turn into glue.
Penne Pasta Salad with Spinach and Tomatoes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
8 ounces penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon rosemary, finely crushed
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 package (6 ounces) baby spinach leaves
1 pint grape cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup bite-size mozzarella cheese balls, halved
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well.
Meanwhile, mix oil, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, oregano and sea salt in
small bowl with wire whisk until well blended.
Mix pasta and spinach in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat well. Add tomatoes
and cheeses; toss to mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition Information Per One Serving: 239 Calories, Fat 11g, Protein 9g,
Carbohydrates 26g, Cholesterol 18mg, Sodium 177mg, Fiber 3g