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Unusual summer vegetable salads

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peas in pod
Peas add bit a of crisp sweetness to summer salads.
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Liven up your taste buds by trying a few unusual summer vegetable salads

One of the best things about summer, besides the warm temperatures and sunny skies, is the bountiful harvest of fruit and vegetables it brings. Whether you regularly eat healthy food or not, most likely there is some sort of vegetable salad that pleases your palate.

This year, however, spice it up by trying unusual summer vegetable salads.

Endive Pea Avocado Salad

You may have eaten endive, peas and avocado before separately, but chances are you've never had them together in one salad. This green dish features fresh flavors and textures that work well together naturally. The crispness of the endives contrasts beautifully against the creamy smoothness of the avocado. The peas add a bite of fresh sweetness that cuts the bitterness of the endive.

To make the dressing, combine 1/3-cup of extra virgin olive oil with three tbsp. of white wine vinegar, one tbsp. fresh lemon juice, two tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1/2-tsp. each of sugar and dried thyme, 1/2-cup of chopped parsley in a bowl and salt and white pepper to taste. Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.

Place one nine-ounce package of frozen baby peas in a colander and run hot water over them to thaw. Drain the peas well, then add them to the dressing. Stir the peas and dressing together, then cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator. 

When you are ready to eat this tasty salad, clean two heads of endive and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Toss the endive with 1/2-cup of sliced green onions and one bag of baby greens lettuce mix. Peel three ripe avocados and cut them into cubes. Add the cubes to the salad, as well as the peas and dressing. If desired, add 1/2-cup of crumbled feta cheese to the salad. The cheese will add extra creaminess and a bit of zing to this healthy dish.

Broccoli and Orzo Salad

While pasta salad is not that unusual, orzo pasta salad may be a new one for you. Orzo is tiny pasta that resembles the shape of rice, which is the perfect size for salads. In addition, this tasty treat absorbs flavors well, which helps add a bit of gourmet to every bite. Pared with delicious summer vegetables, such as broccoli, this yummy salad is great for parties or just for yourself.

To make this simple unusual summer vegetable salad, first start with the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together four tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil with two tbsp. of fresh lemon juice and a handful of finely chopped basil. Then, cook nine ounces of orzo in a large pot according to the instructions on the package. About four minutes before the orzo is done, throw in five ounces of broccoli florets in the water. Rinse both in cool water to stop the cooking process and cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Both the orzo and the broccoli should be cooked al dente, which means it still has a bite  to it.

Place five tbsp. of pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for about five minutes. Toasting the pine nuts will allow the oils to come out and gives them extra flavor. Take the nuts off when they first reach a golden brown. Pine nuts tend to burn easily, therefore, keep a close eye on them.

Place the broccoli and orzo in a bowl, then add three thinly-sliced green onions, the pine nuts and a few reserved basil leaves. Crumble five-ounces of feta cheese over top, along with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir together.

The freshness of the broccoli goes together very nicely with the sharp lemon and feta cheese. The pine nuts add a bit of smokiness and crunch, while the basil adds a touch of sweetness. This unique summer vegetable salad can stand up to the boldness of grilled steak or pork chops or is great as a meal on its own.

Once you have learned a few recipes for summer vegetable salads that unusual and appealing, you will have the basis to start creating new ones on your own. You can also add your own favorite summer vegetables to them. For instance, fresh, ripe tomatoes would be the perfect compliment to the broccoli and orzo salad. 

Let your imagination - and taste buds - guide you on a culinary journey you are sure to enjoy.

References: A Light and Delicious Orzo Pasta Salad
Busy Cooks: Endive Pea Avocado Salad Recipe

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