Summer Salads

Today, it was very, very hot. So hot that I didn’t feel like cooking. (Yes, it was THAT hot!) However, we have family in town and I knew I couldn’t just say, “Go get some cereal and milk!” Actually, with these folks, I could have, but my Southern heritage wouldn’t allow me to do such a thing! Regardless, I pondered what I could make that would not heat up the house, and what people would want to eat in this weather.

I knew I had the ingredients for a pasta salad, but wanted to try out a quinoa salad that I had been creating in my mind these last few weeks. Both recipes were inspired by a variety of recipes or suggestions that I have found online, or in magazines. Yet, in the end I took this bit from here, that bit from there, and formulated a new culinary concoction.

Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb of whole wheat penne or rotini pasta, cooked and cooled
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large purple onion, diced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1 can of black olives, chopped
  • 1 cup of Genoa salami diced into cubes
  • 1 cup of Pepper Jack cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut into chiffonade


  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of tarragon vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of good quality olive oil
  • 1t of sugar, or agave nectar
  • 2 T of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 t of Italian blend dried herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta until al dente. Chop or dice all the ingredients and place into a large bowl. Place the ingredients for the dressing into a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients. After pasta is cooked, drain. Pour dressing into the bowl and stir from the bottom, combining all the ingredients. Salad can be eaten immediately, but is superb if refrigerated for several hours, even overnight.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of water, veggie or chicken broth
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large purple onion, diced
  • 4 green onions, cut on the bias
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, drained or use frozen corn
  • 1/2 jalepeno pepper with pith removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped


  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 2 T of vinegar (any type, I used Tarragon, but you could use Red Wine, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup of Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil (yes, this makes a HUGE difference in the taste of this dressing. Look for it!)
  • 2 t of ground cumin (maybe a bit more)
  • 1 t of chili powder
  • 1/2 t of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa. Boil water/broth and quinoa. Reduce heat to low, and cover with a lid. In about 30 minutes, it will be done. Fluff with a fork. Chop or dice the vegetables and place into a medium to large sized bowl. Allow quinoa to cool, then place into bowl. Mix ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.  Pour dressing onto the quinoa and vegetables. Mix thoroughly. 


Both of these salads got rave reviews from all ages. As usual, the toughest critics were my 5 and 7 year old children, but they like it. As well, my 11-month old nephew loved every bite! We served both of these salads with grilled salmon. Personally, I think the Quinoa and Black Bean Salad would be superb with  fish tacos. 


2 responses to “Summer Salads

  1. I am going to try this recipe! Sounds great.

  2. Pingback: Recipe: Penne Pasta Bake « Food. Fun. Family.

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