Quick and Easy Spring Salads, Yummy!

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend. We did not could not plan a big gathering as catching up on things around the house was a necessity. The last month has been an extremely busy time. My father, who is 81, has finally agreed he should not be living alone. My brother, sister, hubby, and I spent numerous weekends emptying the house. Between all the driving, packing, cleaning, loading, and worry involved, along with preparing our own house there was no time for much else. We look forward to our normal routine commencing, hopefully devoid of tension.

Our Memorial Day celebration was quick, uncomplicated, and nonetheless delicious. On Sunday, I grilled chicken and Italian sausage. Side dishes included two super simple salads,  Ambrosia Fruit and Fresh Dill Pasta. Every thing was prepared with what I had on hand, no time to grocery shop. On Monday, we visited with my niece and her family. At the request of my niece, I prepared the potato salad. Nothing fancy, just a good ole American potato salad.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad

1 can sliced peaches, drained well
1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and quartered or sliced
1 large apple, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large banana, sliced
1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

In a medium sized bowl, combine fruit. Drain of excess liquid that may have collect in the bowl. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut and mix well. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream, mix well. Sprinkle with lemon juice and stir. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

These ingredients produced a three quart bowl of salad. The photo was taken after dinner. Obviously, everyone really enjoyed it. Even Dad had two servings!

Notes: The recipe is very common and usually includes marshmallows. When using the sweetened variety of flaked coconut I omit the marshmallows otherwise, the sweetness is overwhelming. I have added nuts, seeds, and just about every fruit to this recipe. Be sure to drain all fruits. Adjusting the amount of dressing is simple; use equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream proportioned to the amount of salad.

The pasta salad was prepared without measuring; the ingredients are my best estimations. I almost was not going to post the recipe because everyone makes pasta salad, right? What changed my mind was this just may have been my best “thrown together” pasta salad ever. The salad was not soaked with dressing therefore the pasta reserved form and texture along with the vegetables. The fresh dill was dominant yet not overpowering. The hint of citrus from lime basil added an overall “fresh herb” flavor. Red and I are the pasta eaters and both really enjoyed it. The bowl was big and I assumed we would be eating pasta salad for a week. Much to my surprise, the pasta salad was gone the next night!

After boiling wheat and semolina pasta shells (about 3/4 box total) to al dente, I drained and rinsed them with cold water. The dressing consisted of 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 nice sprigs fresh dill, 10 small leaves fresh lime basil, 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, and fresh ground black pepper. Adding all of the ingredients to the processor, I pulsed in bursts, until the fresh herbs were minced and the mixture looked rather creamy. To the dressing, I added a splash of red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust vinegar if needed. Next, I mixed the cut vegetables – 2 plum tomatoes, 2 carrots, 3 scallions, 2 small broccoli, 16 oz. frozen Italian cut green beans thawed – with the pasta, salted stirred and tasted. Sprinkle with imported Parmesan cheese and mix. Top with dressing and mix well. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Refrigerate at least one hour.

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