Easy dinner recipes: Refreshing summer salads in less than 30 minutes

No one wants to slave away in the kitchen in the middle of a heat wave. And this current one just keeps getting hotter.

Just the thought of turning on the stove can cause beads of perspiration. A simple, quick salad is the perfect solution to a hot night and an even hotter kitchen. The following three recipes don't require an oven or the stove -- just a little chopping, mixing and less than 30 minutes of your time.

Watermelon with mint and lime

Total time: 10 minutes, plus chilling time

Servings: 6

Note: Adapted from recipe by Teresa Fanucchi in "A Place at the Table"

6 cups (about 3/4 pound) seedless watermelon cubes, from about 1/4 seedless watermelon (rind removed)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of two limes

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon cubes with the mint, olive oil and lime juice. Chill the salad for at least 1 hour before serving.

Each serving: 70 calories; 1 gram protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 2 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams sugar; 2 mg. sodium.

Pink grapefruit and fennel salad with crab

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

2 pink grapefruit

1 head fennel

1/4 red onion


1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup torn arugula

4 ounces lump Dungeness crab meat

1. Peel the grapefruit and cut it into sections: Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top and the bottom of the grapefruit, so it will sit flat on the cutting board. Starting where you see the pink grapefruit separate from the white pith, cut away one section of peel and pith, following the line of the fruit. This will expose the underlying fruit. Continue cutting away sections of the peel and pith until only fruit remains. When you're done, go back over the fruit, removing any traces of pith.

2. Working over a small bowl to catch the juice, slice the fruit into sections -- make a cut between the fruit and membrane, then do the same on the other side, freeing pure fruit. Repeat until you have removed all the fruit from the membrane. Squeeze any juice from the remaining membrane into the bowl. You will need about 2 tablespoons.

3. Quarter the fennel lengthwise and remove the triangular core at the center. Use a mandolin or a very sharp knife to slice the fennel as thin as possible, about one-eighth inch; you'll have about 3 cups, lightly packed. Do the same with the red onion; you'll have about one-half cup. Combine the fennel and red onion in a large bowl.

4. Add one-half teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes to the reserved grapefruit juice and whisk in the olive oil.

5. Toss the fennel with just enough of the dressing to lightly moisten it. Arrange the fennel on a platter in a low mound.

6. Add the arugula to the same bowl and toss to moisten it; you may need to add another teaspoon of vinaigrette. Arrange the arugula on top of the fennel.

7. Add the grapefruit and crabmeat to the same bowl and toss very gently to avoid breaking up the citrus or the crab. You want it barely moistened; if you need, add another teaspoon of vinaigrette. Arrange this on top of the arugula and serve immediately.

Each serving: 224 calories; 8 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 21 mg cholesterol; 284 mg sodium; 8 grams sugar.

Curried cantoloupe slaw

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Buy a very firm, under-ripe cantaloupe; this will make it easier to julienne the melon for the slaw. Dressing the julienned melon in advance will make the melon too soft; plan to make the slaw no more than 30 minutes before serving.

1 under-ripe cantaloupe

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

3/4 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Zest and juice of 1 lime, more to taste

4 teaspoons thinly sliced mint

1. Peel and seed the cantaloupe, then cut it into large pieces about 3 inches in length. Julienne the cantaloupe pieces, then place the pieces in a large colander or strainer to drain the excess juice while you prepare the dressing.

2. Prepare the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, ginger, curry powder and salt. Stir in the lime zest and juice.

3. Toss the drained cantaloupe in the large bowl with the dressing and gently toss to combine. Taste the slaw and adjust the curry powder, salt and lime juice to taste.

4. Stir in the sliced mint and serve the salad completely, or cover and refrigerate up to 30 minutes before serving. This makes about 6 cups slaw.

Each of 8 servings: 36 calories; 1 gram protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 0 fat; 1 mg. cholesterol; 167 mg. sodium.


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