With summer’s arrival in the North (thank goodness it is finally here) come picnics and pot luck BBQs.

Having a salad or two to make ahead is always a good tactic in the time management department. Made ahead, the salad can marinate and improve while you take off on your bike or hike up a nearby hill before your guests arrive.

Alternately, the salad can marinate in your boat while you paddle to the picnic.

Keep salad making simple by having the basics stockpiled in your cupboards and refrigerator.

Be flexible and adapt a recipe to whatever is available at the time (that is what any good northerner does anyway). Using fresh herbs that are grown out on your deck or herb garden can really ratchet up the flavour dial in these two salads.


Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Salad

INGREDIENTS

1 head (3 stalks) of broccoli

1 chicken breast, cooked and cubed

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

6 cherry tomatoes

¼ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

PREPARATION

Wash and cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces cutting the stalks on the diagonal into pieces.

Add a little water to the broccoli in a container and microwave 1.5 to 2 minutes on high power.

Broccoli should be blanched not cooked – bright green and just tender-crisp.

Alternately, boil a pot of water and immerse the raw broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain the blanched broccoli and set aside.

Cook the chicken breasts if you haven’t already done so.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking together the yogurt, mayo, sugar, vinegar and lemon juice.

Pour the dressing over top the prepared broccoli, adding the cherry tomatoes, the cooked chicken and the cheese.

If you make this ahead, do not add the tomatoes or cheese until just before serving.

Also, if you want to make this a vegetarian salad, don’t use the chicken. With the yogurt and cheese, you are still getting lots of protein.


Couscous and Lentil Salad

INGREDIENTS

½ cup raw couscous

1 can (540 ml) lentils, well rinsed and drained

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced on the diagonal

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped finely

¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks

½ cup fresh cucumber, cubed

¼ cup fresh parsley

PREPARATION

Put the couscous into a sieve and let soak in a bowl of warm water for about three minutes.

Lift the sieve out of the bowl and let the couscous drain.

Meanwhile, place the rinsed and drained lentils into a medium bowl.

Add the red pepper and celery.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: vinegar, oil, garlic and red pepper sauce.

Add in the prepared couscous.

Add the dressing and toss together gently.

Add the feta cheese. If you want your hike first, marinate the salad now and just before serving, add the cucumber and parsley.

For a variation, use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar and fresh cilantro instead of parsley.