Column: Summer salads for seniors

Really, these salads are for anybody. I just like the alliteration. When the days get nice and warm and you don’t feel like a heavy, hot meal, a salad is often the perfect alternative. I’ve noticed lately, in my foray into new recipes, that fruit seems to feature prominently in main dishes and sides.  

I can’t remember when or where I first had this peachy summer salad, but it was so yummy that I’ve been making it ever since. I regularly make it at home, bring it for potlucks and tell everyone I can about it. The best part is, it’s super simple to make. The ingredients are far more important than the quantities, so adjust the amounts to your taste buds.

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  • Peaches, diced
  • Roma tomatoes, diced
  • Niblets corn (drained)
  • Red or sweet onion, finely diced
  • Fresh mint or basil, chopped or chiffonade
  • Blueberries

Make a vinaigrette out of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and voila, you’ve got yourself a refreshing, easy salad that’s an unfailing crowd pleaser. If you’re a card-carrying carnivore like me, you might follow it up with a small 10 oz. ribeye steak as a chaser. After all, I have to maintain my normal nutritional standards. Approximately an hour after dinner, I’ll forage for some potato chips. Then 30 minutes later, I’m likely to have a cookie or two. And before bed, my usual snack is a few slices of soy cheese on crackers. It’s all in a day’s work.

Summer is a great time for everyone (and especially retirees) to eat on the cheap. Between the fresh fruits and vegetables available at local markets, a quick-and-dirty potato salad, or barbequed tube-steak, meals can be budget friendly – if you want them to be. Some nights Harvey and I just grill up olive-oil-brushed eggplant, zucchini and red peppers. Served with some brown rice we have ourselves a veggie feast. Of course, 45 minutes later I’m crazy hungry. Let’s pretend I have a very active metabolism and call it a day.

Another one of my favourite summer dishes is sunomono. It’s a Japanese cold salad made of rice vermicelli noodles swimming in a rice wine vinegar “dressing,” if you will. You can add anything you like to it, but I usually just add thinly sliced pieces of English cucumber and maybe a bit of shredded carrot. Some people like to add shrimp or imitation crab to make it heartier. There are lots of recipes for the “dressing” (which, because of its quantity, is almost like a soup), but this is my no-fail go-to recipe:

Sunomono Salad

  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¾ c. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ c. sugar
  • Small squeeze of lemon juice
  • A few drops of soy sauce

Mix this together well, then pour it over cooked, rinsed, cold rice vermicelli noodles. Don’t add too much “dressing” to each bowl because it’s quite concentrated. Leftovers can stay in the fridge for up to a day or two. This is obviously too flimsy to be a main dish, but it make a great starter or side dish and goes with everything. Preparing heavy meals can be a drag during the summer. So, stay cool and get creative with light salads and sides. It’ll leave room for ice cream later.

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