Country Kitchen: Salad Sense for Summer

Country Kitchen: Salad Sense for Summer

By Mary Emma Allen

Summer brings the season when we often think of salads, foods that can be prepared without heating up the kitchen. This once was a major consideration, in the days before air-conditioning, when cooks used wood or coal stoves for food preparation.

My mother even had Father and the hired man carry the kitchen table onto the porch or front yard where it was cooler for dining than in the kitchen where she had to do canning, pickling, and jelly making. Even though farm wives were expected to prepare hearty noontime meals, she looked for recipes that didn't take so much cooking and were refreshing to eat.

Salads Mainly for Summer

So salads were on the menu. In those days, salads were mainly summer fare, when the garden was in full production and salad greens, fresh potatoes, and other vegetables were readily available.

Coleslaw was a favorite in our family and made by chopping cabbage, carrots, and onions in the oblong wooden chopping bowl. Although I use the basic sweet-tart recipe my mother and aunt always made, there are many other variations of this salad.

You can have coleslaw, or cabbage salad as some call it, tart and tangy, crisp and sweetened, or accented with the addition of various fruits and sometimes nuts. Also, you can use green or red cabbage. Some recipes call for a combination of the two.

Nowadays, coleslaw mix is available in the produce department of most grocery stores. Thus you don't have to shave or chop your own cabbage as we did years ago.

Salads of Great Variety

Salads range from main meal ones of meat, egg, poultry, seafood, and cheese to tossed salads, cooked vegetable salads, molded salads, frozen salads and fruit salads. Some salads, such as chicken, egg, and tuna, may be used in sandwich rolls or between slices of bread.

Other salads include dessert salads, made of fruit, gelatin, ambrosia, melon, and berries. We often toss together a mixture of fruit in season - sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced banana, peaches, and kiwi. Serve this with whipped topping. It makes a great dessert or a breakfast dish.

MELON BOWLS - When serving fruit salads, scoop out half a water melon, sliced either lengthwise or crosswise. Then fill with a mixture of fruit and melon. You also can scoop out half a cantaloupe and fill it with mixed fruit and melon.

PINEAPPLE SALAD for dessert: Drain 2 1/2 cups pineapple chunks. Add the chunks to 1/4 cup walnut meats (optional) and 2 cups diced celery. Add 1 cup diced apple.

Chill the ingredients; then just before serving add enough mayonnaise or salad dressing to moisten, with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

You also can mix with whipped topping instead of mayonnaise, if you prefer. Mix lightly and serve on salad greens if you're preparing individual servings. Or you can serve in melon bowls or a scooped out apple.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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