Posts Tagged ‘main dish salads’

Crab Salad with Mandarin Vinaigrette

June 16, 2009


You don’t need a lengthy shopping list to create a healthy crunchy salad for supper.  This really isn’t a recipe so much as it is a list of options based on what you have on hand.  That’s usually the way great dishes are developed.  The idea is to balance textures and flavors while packing in lots of nutrition.  And the addition of protein will satisfy the hunger pangs and stay with you longer than carbohydrates alone.

It couldn’t be simpler or quicker on a warm summer evening to throw a main dish salad together.  Fresh ginger and pureed Mandarin oranges in a vinaigrette gives this salad an Asian tweak.  The balance of nutrition from protein rich lump crab and vitamin rich mango and avocado makes this a dieter’s delight.  Some crunchy radishes and cucumbers  are added to round out the textures and flavors.  Serve it with a tomato zucchini gazpacho and a crusty baguette.  Carry the Asian theme further with a mango lime sorbet for dessert. 

For more crunch add mung bean sprouts and fresh snow peas.  Substitute asparagus for the avocado.   Use julienned daikon radish instead of red radishes.  Julienned carrots and cabbage may be added and chopped romaine lettuce may be used instead of mixed baby greens.  Substitute tuna packed in water, poached salmon, or leftover baked tilapia for the lump crab or use a can of baby shrimp.   For a vegan version use a can of black beans or cannelini beans in place of the fish and add sweet corn or corn tortilla strips to make a perfect protein.  Canned or fresh peaches will also work in place of the ripe mango and a few slices of pureed peach will definitely add a new flavor dimension to the vinaigrette.


  • 4 cups baby spring greens (or lettuce of your choice)
  • 1 ripe mango, cubed or sliced (or fruit of your choice)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced (or vegetable of your choice)
  • 1 cup lump crab (or other protein of your choice)
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables such as radishes and cucumber
  • 1 6 oz can Mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes of Tabasco or chili sauce of choice
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced parsley or cilantro
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Wash and spin dry greens.
  2. Arrange fruit and vegetables on top of greens.  Cover and chill.
  3. Place mandarin oranges, oil, lemon juice, chili sauce, ginger, parsley, salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Spoon dressing over salad and toss just before serving.

Tuna Pasta Shell Salad

June 12, 2009

pasta tuna salad 001

When its just too hot to eat heavy hot meals this pasta salad with tuna is the perfect alternative.  Its light with lots of fresh veggies, olives, eggs and a citrus vinaigrette.  Easy on calories, definitely filling, and all you need is crusty rolls or a baguette, a glass of wine and a slice of watermelon for dessert

This recipe is from the late 1960’s when I was a newly wed and living in Spokane, Washington.   It started out as a potato salad with pasta instead of potatoes, a mayonnaise dressing with mustard and dill pickles, a can of tuna, onions and radishes.  Even in those days no one complained and there was never any leftovers.  That was quite a compliment considering some of my cooking disasters.  I loved to bake and can fruit but hadn’t had a lot of experience cooking dinners way back then.

Over the years, this dish has taken on new dimensions as I’ve added more veggies, olives, roasted red peppers, even artichoke hearts and switched to a vinaigrette instead of the calorie laden mayonnaise.  This main dish salad can be made with shrimp, lump crab, poached salmon, roasted chicken or even ham. 

Any size pasta shells will do or try it with your favorite type of pasta.  Just a cup and a half of pasta will make 4 ample servings, very economical, and quick to prepare.  Prep all the veggies and whip up the vinaigrette while the pasta and eggs cook.   The pasta will absorb less oil if rinsed in cold water before assembling salad. 


  • 1 1/2 cups small pasta shells
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 5 or 6 red radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, julienned
  • handful of black ripe olives
  • handful of pimento stuffed green olives
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes of Tabasco sauce


  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt, pasta shells and eggs.
  2. Cook for 7 minutes until pasta is al dente.
  3. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water.  Run cold water over eggs and shell while holding eggs under water.
  4. Place pasta, eggs, diced veggies and olives in a large bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, pour lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, garlic salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce.  Whisk until well incorporated.  You may use a jar with a screw lid and shake vinaigrette vigorously.
  6. Pour over salad and toss.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.