Cool & Easy summer salads

Easy – peasey summer meals

Ahh, summer. When the thermometer goes sky high, my desire to cook definitely hits a low.  So I’ve found several easy go-to recipes for the sizzling summer temps. This recipe, Chicken Pasta salad, is one of my favorites. My Mom found this recipe back in the 80’s. My whole family loves it, and it’s easy enough that a 10-year-old can make it! (With supervision, of course.)

Chicken Pasta Salad--one of my summer staples

Chicken Pasta Salad–one of my summer staples.

Chicken Pasta Salad:

Spiral Rotini pasta

red seedless grapes, halved

1 rotisserie chicken

slivered almonds

Ranch dressing

grated cheese (optional)

Directions: In the morning, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss a bit of ranch dressing with pasta to keep it from sticking. Wash grapes and cut in half. Combine with the Rotini. Debone the rotisserie chicken, and toss meat in with the salad. Cover and refrigerate until dinner.

Serving suggestion: Serve with carrot sticks, cucumber slices and/or cherry tomatoes for a healthy meal. Serves 6.

Recipe 2: Taco Salad

easy, meal

Yummy and easy taco salad!

A great salad for hot days, this one takes a run-of-the-mill green salad and adds a twist! Just jazz it up with some ground meat or ground turkey if you are eating light, add a bag of Doritos, and the kids will love it. Trust me, mine do!

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce

3 tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

cucumbers

Doritos or purple tortilla chips

Spanish onions (optional)

ground meat or ground turkey, browned

taco seasoning

Directions: Cook ground meat, adding taco seasoning to taste.  If using ground turkey, cook, adding Worcestershire sauce and taco seasoning to get a fuller taste. Drain fat from cooked meat and refrigerate.

15 minutes before dinner, cut or tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, chunk up tomatoes, peel and slice cucumbers, drain and rinse kidney beans, chop onions, and toss in a large bowl. Stir in cooled meat and top with purple tortilla chips or Doritos (or serve Doritos on the side so they don’t get soggy). Serves 6.

Recipe 3: Hawaiian Haystacks  

Hawaiian haystacks are so easy and fun to make!

Hawaiian haystacks are so easy and fun to make!

2 c. white or brown rice

2 lbs. chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and cut in chunks

garlic powder

1 can pineapple chunks

Thousand Island dressing

cherry tomatoes

chow mein noodles

cilantro sprigs

other toppings as desired

Directions: In the morning (while it’s cooler), cook rice and refrigerate it. Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and cook it in the oven for 35-45 minutes at 350 F. At dinnertime, heat up rice in a microwave oven and serve with other toppings. Serves 6.

Recipe 4: Caribbean Chicken Salad 

6 c. Romaine lettuce, shredded                                               DSCN9355

3 c. cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes

(or shredded rotisserie chicken)

1 c. Monterrey Jack cheese chunks

15 oz. can black beans, drained

2 mangoes, peeled, cored and cut in chunks

1 c. chopped, seeded tomato

1 cucumber (optional)

3/4 c. shredded cheddar

1/2 c. green onion (optional)

1/2 to 3/4 c. cashews

Dressing Ingredients:

1 6 oz. piña colada yogurt

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning

Directions: Layer ingredients in order listed except cashews. Put dressing on top with cashews sprinkled over all. Cashews will get soggy if left in salad overnight. Serves 6.

Recipe 5: BLT Chicken Salad

1 cucumber

easy, meal

BLT salad is a cool easy dinner on hot summer nights!

2 heads romaine lettuce

Spinach

2 cooked chicken breasts

2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

8 to 12 slices bacon, cooked

Dressing:   1/2 cup mayo or miracle whip

1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Directions: Shred half of the cucumber using a fork, set aside. Slice remainder of cucumber. Combine cuke slices with other salad ingredients. To make dressing, use shredded cuke mixed with other ingredients. If making ahead of time, leave tomatoes in a separate bowl so the acid won’t soften the other ingredients and place bacon in a container in the fridge as well, or it will get soggy.

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Photo credits: Chicken Pasta Salad: Jenny Morin. Taco Salad: myorganizedchaos.com.  Hawaiian Haystacks: freeeatsfood.com