After the last few days of deep stuff – let’s talk about salads!  I dunno about you, but there is a point during the summer where I could just live off the stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the heat and I’ll take over 100 to under 50 any day of the year, but I’m not all about standing over a stove forever playing with soups or stir fries or curries like I am in the winters.  Hell, sometimes I’ll cook in the winter just to be in the warmth of the stove without further inflating the electric bill.  Summers – it’s either grilling outside with minimal prep side dishes, stuff you can just pop in the oven, or cold stuff like sandwiches and salads.

Now, there are the salads like the one I made last week (aka meals with tons of veggies on top of lettuce with chicken and some light dressing), and there are SALADS (potatoes, mayo, egg, and some relish).  They are not usually interchangeable nutritional-wise, but I do my best to get close.  And here are those attempts:

Veggie-ful Pasta Salad:

I love me some pasta salad.  Of all the bad-for-you salads out there, it’s one of my favorites.  What a weakness I have for this stuff.  And most times, it’s just pasta with some sort of high calorie sauce with a few token veggies for color.  This is so not that salad.  This was the first time I made this and I will sooo make it again.  Maybe with some chicken as a main dish, maybe just to nom on all day…whatever.  It was THAT good.

I made about a punchbowlfull of this stuff and estimated the calorie count around 1600.  Considering it was at least 20 reasonable side dish servings, that puts it at about 80 calories per serving.  Most got eaten at the party, and I noshed on the leftovers all afternoon the next day and it was about a 350 calorie hit to my tracker.  If you LOOK at a Suddenly Salad (which is what I was trying to emulate) I think you have to count at least 400 calories towards your day, so it was a win!

Super easy too.  First, take a box of rotini tri-colored pasta (the 6 serving size).  I mean, you can use whatever you want, but I prefer rotini pasta in my pasta salad and the tri-colored stuff is just fun.  If I was being SUPER GOOD I would have done wheat pasta but it was for a 4th of July BBQ.  Festive looking won.  Throw in some garlic while it cooks if you are as anti-vampire as I.  Then, drain and rinse to cool to room temperature.

Start dicing up your vegetable drawer.  I added zucchini, celery, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, and califlower.  I could see also adding cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, but my bowl was already overflowing so I skipped the rest.  I think about half the bowl was pasta and the other half was veggie.

Now the good stuff that makes it pasta salad-y instead of a bowl of veggies and carbs.  Add a small can of sliced black olives, a good few forkfuls of green olives, and a few big pinches of crumbled feta.  Mix that in.  Then, spice it up!  I added our generic “Italian Seasoning”, some parsley, and some pepper (my italian dressing already had a lot going on with it, I didn’t need much more).  I had an audience that I wanted to keep things kinda mild for, or I would have rocked the crushed red pepper.  Then, add about 1/4 bottle of italian dressing.  I used the fat free kind I usually use on a salad.  I would suggest using something that you would consider eating with some lettuce and dressing because you *will* taste it.  Mix that in.  Chill overnight if you can stand the suspense because the dressing soaks in and tastes super yummy.

Lowfat Dill-Ranch Potato Salad:

This is one of my potluck summer staples.  It’s nice and light while still tasting like you’re eating something naughty-sauce.  It’s a little higher calorie than the pasta stuff but still kills a potato salad craving for about 1/2 the calories.  It’s a little trickier too, but with a little practice you’ll get the hang of doing the ‘taters right.

First, chop up 4 red potatoes into what I’ll call home fry size pieces.  From the picture, you can see how big they are relative to the olives, and these were normal “sliced in the can” ones so they are pretty much standard size.  Put the taters in a pot with some garlic (or not, but it was yummy), and bring to a boil.  Then, put it on simmer and check once every 5 minutes at least.  To check, pick up a chunk of tater and gently prod it.  Once it is no longer hard but squishes a bit (err on the side off too done if you must, it’s better to have a bit of mush then raw taters), turn off the heat and drain them and rinse them to cool the spuds down (I think it took 45 mins total to do this).

Then, the rest.  Chop up 5 stalks of celery and add to the taters.  This makes it a pretty good mix of veggie and starch, as you can see the celery is holding it’s own in the bowl along with the spuds, unlike most potato salads which feature a crunch of celery (if that) every few bites.  Dump a small can of black olives in the mix, and chop half a bunch of green onion and about a quarter of a large red onion and add those too.

Now, seasoning time.  Add a hefty amount of dill (you really want to taste it, it goes GREAT with the other flavors) and a little less rosemary, parsley, and pepper.  Mix it around, and you should see seasony goodness on each tater chunk.  Then, the glue – add about 6-8 tbps of light ranch.  I didn’t actually measure, I poured a little and mixed and poured and mixed until it had a good coating but wasn’t dripping.  Next time I think I could use a little less, but just a *little*.  That made about half a punchbowl full, and while I’m a little fuzzier on the calorie count, it had to be less than 1000.   It made about 8-10 good side dishes out of it, so at worst we’re looking 125 calories.  And that’s probably a good 1/4 plateful.


This was Zliten’s doing, so I’ll keep it short.  Chop head of cabbage.  Grate a carrot.  Add about 6-8 tpbs storebought coleslaw dressing (about 150 calories per 2 tbps).  Mix with pepper.  Enjoy!

I loved them all, but the winner is the pasta/veggie.  I am still having dreams about that stuff.  This is what it made me do:

Hope everyone had a good 4th (or a good weekend if you live in any other country)!  So – make me hungry.  What’s the yummiest thing you’ve ever made/brought to a cookout?