Phil's International Flair

Welcome to the November issue of Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! This month's theme is salads. Salads can be as diverse as your imagination. Besides the standard green salad that we are all accustomed to, you can liven up a salad with fresh plants from your yard or garden as well.

This month I will present some ideas for different kinds of salads that you can prepare easily to compliment any meal. You may select from a variety of salads below to accompany your meal. Some may be served as a meal in itself.

The recipes presented this month are but a small yet diverse collection of the recipes in my yet to be published book, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the recipes!

Salads Supreme

Pasta Salad

I first discovered this salad at a barbeque potluck. It was a big hit, especially with me! I sometimes make this for a quick dinner or side dish. It keeps well in the fridge if covered, and can be used over several days, if it lasts that long.
  • 1 package (12 oz.) spiral colored noodles (vegetable pasta), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 can olives, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice from one lemon
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • ¼ lb. crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soak crushed and chopped garlic in the olive oil for 2 or 3 hours prior to preparing salad. While the pasta is cooking, slice the vegetables and chop the parsley. Toss the cooked noodles with the vegetables and then add the olive oil. Add lemon juice and continue to toss. Add the crumbled Feta cheese, salt and pepper and toss again until well blended. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Potato Salad

A favorite for picnics or a holiday dinner, potato salad is an old standby. Like cole slaw, potato salad is a good choice to be served with barbecued foods during the summer, or with a picnic consisting of fried chicken and beans. This recipe, edited, is from my mother. Enjoy!
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes and boiled until tender
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 large stalks celery
  • 1 medium sized sweet pickle, finely diced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (more if needed)
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar

Place the boiled potatoes in a large serving bowl and add the chopped celery, sweet pickles, onions and hard boiled eggs. Salt and pepper to taste. Then, pour the vinegar and sugar into the mayonnaise and mix this with the potatoes. After the mixture settles, you may need to add more mayonnaise until the right texture is obtained. The secret is the sugar you put in the vinegar. Taste it to see how you like it before adding anything else. Every thing is according to your taste.

  • Yields: 1½ cups
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Chinese Chicken Salad

This recipe is for a basic Chinese chicken salad. Other vegetable ingredients may be added to this basic recipe to suit your taste. Some suggestions are bean sprouts, diced pieces of zucchini or yellow squash, red lettuce, cilantro, or a little Chinese cabbage. Other ingredients will lend additional color and flavor to the basic dish. Juice from a fresh lemon instead of vinegar would freshen the sweet and sour flavor of the dressing.
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 T. vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • ½ head lettuce
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 pkg. rice noodles
  • Oil for frying

Cook the chicken by boiling for 45 minutes, or use leftover chicken from a previous meal. Prepare the rice noodles by frying in 1 inch of hot oil very quickly, preferably in a wok. Allow them to puff up, turning once if necessary. A long handled fork and slotted spoon work well for doing this. Remove immediately to drain on paper towels.

Combine the sesame oil, salt, vinegar, sugar and pepper to make a dressing. Set aside. Slice the lettuce into strips and toss with the green onions and dressing. Finally add the rice noodles and toss once more before serving.

  • Yields: 5 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Green Salads

Green salads can be as diverse as your imagination. You might want to try adding some dandelions from the yard, some malva, watercress from a clean stream, or other natural "weeds" for that extra bit of nutrition, texture and appearance. You can select any variety of vegetables for your salad. The basic salad is easily modified to suit the occasion.

Of course, the dressing that you choose will tailor the salad to go with the particular meal that you are serving. An oil and vinegar based dressing is good with Italian food, and the American favorite Ranch dressing goes well with most American dishes. A sweet and sour dressing goes well with Chinese food, and Ginger dressing suits Japanese food quite well. Here is a basic green salad that you can prepare for just about any meal.

  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • 1 fresh tomato, quartered and sliced into chunks
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
  • Croutons

Break the lettuce into bite sized chunks and place in a serving bowl. Toss with remaining vegetables and top with croutons.

For a Mediterranean theme, add sliced black olives and crumbled Feta cheese as a garnish to your salad. To compliment Mexican food, add some chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, and perhaps some diced green chili. The addition of some grated parmesan and sliced mushrooms is good with an Italian meal.

I think it is important that a salad have an appealing color scheme. You may consider using two or three types of lettuce to add color and texture. Even some edible flowers, like nasturtiums or rose petals, can be added for variety and color. One option is to use flowers as a decoration to your salad dishes for that special occasion. A little extra flair makes for a favorable and lasting impression.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cole Slaw

Of all the American style salads, cole slaw is probably one of the oldest standbys. Coleslaw is good served at picnics, or with the outdoor barbecue.
  • ½ shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium grated carrot
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T. brown sugar or honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrot in a large mixing bowl. Make the dressing by blending the mayonnaise, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place the dressing ingredients into the cabbage and mix thoroughly. For a more pleasant appearance, use half green cabbage and half red cabbage.

As a variation and convenience, instead of making a dressing as described above, use one of the commercial ranch style dressings on top of the cabbage.

  • Yields: 4 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes