If you don’t have your Labor Day weekend menu planned yet, consider these two quick, easy and extremely wonderful salads. My friend Sherry Campbell, director of the Shoals Commercial Culinary Center in Florence, Alabama, that’s part of the innovative business incubator Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, made these salads for us during a recent cooking class — and we all gobbled them down and asked for more. The class focused on end-of-the-summer fresh and local ingredients and simple recipes for entertaining. Her menu included chicken roasted with figs and port wine — yum! Check out the Culinary Center at http://www.shoalsec.com/.
End of Summer Supper Salad
Cook 1 pound unshelled raw jumbo shrimp* in 3 quarts boiling water until pink. Rinse shrimp in cold water, cool and shell. (If holding more than 10 minutes, chill in refrigerator.) Bring water back to boil and add 1 1/2 pounds trimmed green beans until tender-crisp, about 3-7 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Meanwhile, whisk together 1/3 cup rice vinegar, salt and fresh pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon coarse or Dijon mustard and 2 minced large garlic cloves. Whisk in 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until dressing is thick and add a thinly sliced half medium sweet onion. Toss shrimp and green beans with dressing. Arrange sliced tomatoes around edge of platter and mound salad in middle. Sprinkle with fresh basil, scallion slices and fresh lemon juice. Serves 4. *You could also use chicken or tofu in this recipe. You’d cook the chicken, of course, with your preferred method — the tofu can be used right out of the package.
Whisk together 1/4 cup each red-wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add 2 cans rinsed and drained cannelloni beans, 3 cups cubed country bread, 1 pound plum tomatoes cut into smaller pieces, thin slices of English cucumber, thin slices of red onion and 4 ounces diced provolone cheese. Toss, cover and chill 2-8 hours. Just before serving, stir in fresh basil. Serves 4. Note: Sherry also used bell peppers and celery when she prepared this. “Just use up whatever fresh veggies you’ve got,” she said. “That’s the whole idea.”