Eight of My Favorite Summer Salads

It’s hot outside! In an effort to keep my temperature down, I’m looking for salads for dinner.  It occurred to me, that I’ve created quite a few, so I thought I’d revisit some of them myself and then I had the idea to share them with you – I mean, I can’t expect everyone to root through my recipes, over and over again, right? So here are eight of my favorite summer salads.


Roasted Stone Fruit and Arugula Summer Salad

I created this for a contest and guess what!  It won Judges Choice!  It’s delicious and tangy sweet, using in season stone fruits that I roasted.  Yummy!



Zoodle Summer Salad

One of my absolute favorites!  Healthy, delicious, so unexpected.

Zoodles! (3 of 4)


Corn, Tomato, Cucumber, and Bacon Summer Salad

If this doesn’t scream “Summer Food”, I don’t know what does.

My Bowl


Watermelon, Arugula and Feta Summer Salad

A delicious, cool, no cook, refreshing salad.



Couscous Summer Salad with Tangerine Dressing

Tangerine dressing, ripe strawberries, I might make this tonight.



Not Just Any Spinach Salad

The best spinach salad.  Ever.



Southwest Pasta Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

This is one of my most often requested, most often shared, recipes.  Once you have the recipe for the ranch dressing, you’ll use it all the time, for so many different things!



Cool and Refreshing Taboule

I forgot about this one and it’s totally on the menu for this week.


So there you have it!  I hope you enjoy these really tasty salad dinners.

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Roasted Potato, Cucumber and Parsley Pasta Salad

Bear with me folks. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.  Until you try it for yourself, that is.

I opened the fridge today to see what was available and surprise!  There wasn’t much.  We had cucumbers, potatoes, and celery that needed to be used – so here’s what we did.

  • Two pounds of rotini
  • a huge bag of potatoes
  • five cloves of garlic
  • two cucumbers
  • quite a bit of celery
  • a bunch of parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • one large shallot
  • salt and pepper

Line a baking sheet with foil and set the oven for 400*. Wash and dry the potatoes and then cut into bite size pieces.  Put them on the baking sheet, chop the garlic, finely and add that to the sheet.  Liberally douse the mixture with olive oil, toss, and cook 40-60 minutes, or until the potatoes start to get golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature.


Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and cool (I like to place the full colander inside a large bowl of ice water).

Chop the cucumber, celery and parsley and transfer to a large lidded bowl.

In a small bowl combine equal parts (3/4 cup each) olive oil and vinegar, chop the shallot finely, add that the the dressing mixture and whisk.

When the potatoes are cool, add them and the pasta to the cucumber/celery/parsley mixture and dress.  If you have too much dressing, just refrigerate the leftover it’s good on everything!

Chill for a bit, salt and pepper to taste and serve -


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Applebee’s In Ocala

My daughter has been obsessed with the commercial for Applebee’s and the free french fry refills (we love fries). So last Sunday, we were looking for someplace to go for dinner when we remembered the commercial that had us longing for crispy fries. We drove over to Applebee’s and were surprised when we walked in – the entire place had been remodeled.  It still has the same areas, but there were lovely banquettes in the bar area as well as the hightops that I love.  We got a table and started to look over the completely redesigned menu and I have to say, we were overwhelmed by the amount of choices.

Our server, whose name I regrettably can not remember (because she was awesome!), came over and we ordered margaritas and bloody marys – (It’s two for one).  The margarita was a little sweet for my liking (I’m a purist and really just want tequila, triple sec, lime juice and salt), but our dinner companion liked it just fine.  The bloody mary however was incredible!  Our server told me the secret was that she added A1 sauce as well as Worcestershire – whatever it was it was delicious, spicy, peppery, juicy, with olives and celery. It really hit the spot!

When we finally decided what to eat, which took quite a while, especially for me, we decided on:

Three Cheese Chicken Penne – but substitute the chicken for Salmon -


The Mushroom Swiss Burger


Shrimp and Sirloin Parmesan with broccoli, and garlic mashed potatoes


I have to say that normally, I’m never happy with chain restaurants – but this was definitely an exception.  Everything was cooked perfectly, the service was phenomenal and that burger was the best burger I’ve had in a very long time.  The prices were very reasonable and we even enjoyed the piped in music!

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Roasted Potatoes with Spicy Rice, Peas and Corn

It’s been cold and dreary here, I think I’ve mentioned it recently.   A hearty meal of roasted potatoes with spicy rice, peas and corn is very welcome – the heat from some serranos make this a great meal to end this horrible cold with.  Satisfying, spicy, crunchy and delicious!

  • 1 5 lb. bag of potatoes, washed and chopped into small pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 serranos chiles chopped (I left the ribs and seeds in for maximum heat – you decide what’s best for you)
  • 5 small which onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups uncooked rice of your choosing
  • one bag each, frozen petite peas and corn kernals defrosted
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 – line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray foil with non stick spray.

Place the potatoes, onions, garlic,  and chiles on the pan, drizzle olive oil over to coat, add generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss with clean hands to coat and cook. Place in the oven on the middle rack, to allow full heat circulation.  This will take, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cook until the potatoes are browned.


Meanwhile, determine how much time your rice will take and prepare accordingly, you want everything to be hot when you combine. When the rice is done, add, the peas and corn, and the roasted vegetables.


Toss carefully and cover, to allow the heat to warm everything through.

Plate, drizzle a little more olive oil over the top, salt and pepper to taste if needed and serve.


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Spicy Cabbage and Potato Soup

It’s that time of year… You know, when everyone you know has some sort of ailment or another.  Well, I got hit with a bug and I knew just what I needed.  Fortunately a friend has some surplus garden bounty that she brought over and I made an incredible, satisfying, spicy, soup.  It’s the kind of soup that helps you breathe better.  You really don’t need to measure much here – just taste and adjust until you’re happy with it. Excuse the quality of some of the pictures, and keep in mind that I was not feeling well.

Here’s what I did.

  • Two heads green cabbage, cleaned and chopped
  • A bunch of red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1/2 in. cubes
  • 6 small white onions, diced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 serranos, chopped – I left the seeds in as I wanted the heat
  • 16 cups seasoned water, or vegetable broth
  • salt, pepper
  • vegetable oil

Prep all the veggies, and keep them seperated.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees – line a baking sheet with foil, add the potatoes, a big pinch of salt and cook for 45 minutes or until browned.



Preheat a large stove top pot, add a big glub of vegetable, add the cabbage and stir fry – you can start this by covering the pot with a lid and letting it start to wilt to make the stir fry easier.

Preheat another pot, again, add oil and add the onions, cook – stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize.  I really like them caramelized, but if that’s not your thing, you could just cook until translucent.


When the onions are done to your liking, add the garlic, ginger and serrano chiles – Allow them to cook until the garlic smells so wonderful that you can’t stand it.


At this point, add your liquid, lower and allow to simmer.

When your cabbage is sufficiently wilted, add that to the pot of soup and when the potatoes are browned to your liking, remove from oven and add them as well. Add a big pinch of salt, to taste and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes – the longer the better.  Taste and adjust your salt and add pepper if desired.


Serve, eat and feel better!

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Okra and Eggplant

High summer in Florida – the local farms have plenty of okra, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes… And sometimes it gets a little overwhelming trying to figure out yet another recipe for some of these veggies.  We made this from local okra and eggplant – it’s super abundant right now and very affordable, not to mention healthy and delicious!

If you’re local to Ocala, make sure you check out 326 Market.  Thursday afternoons from 4-7.  It’s a smallish market and the people couldn’t be nicer!  There’s local honey, locally made jams, preserves, jellies (ask for a sample, you won’t be able to pass it by!), artisan jewelers, home made laundry detergents, ducks, chicks, bunnies, a woman selling breads and pastries (key lime pound cake, don’t miss it!), and my favorite – local fresh vegetables.  They also have live music and it looks like they’re getting a pretty great line up!  Definitely go check them out and tell Cathy I sent you.

I picked up two pints of okra and two large Italian eggplants and I decided to try something a little bit different.  Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice. It was kind of like a vegan, Italian, I don’t know… gumbo?  And it was delicious!

  • 2 pints of okra
  • 2 large eggplants
  • sea or kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • a big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (I like the no BPA Muir Glen)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (the dark kind)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Clean the eggplant and okra – peel the eggplant, dice into smallish pieces and place on a lined baking sheet.  Trim the heads of the okra, (if they’re very small and new – this step isn’t necessary, but the bigger they get, the tougher the tops get. Slice the okra into rounds and place them on the baking sheet too.  Pour a good amount of olive oil and a couple of big pinches of salt over the top and using your hands, mix it all – trying to make sure that each piece gets coated.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the eggplant is soft.

Meanwhile, cook your rice according to package directions.  I use vegetable broth instead of plain water, but this recipe is so flavorful, you really don’t have to do that.  Use a bigger pot than you think you need – in the end we’re going to combine everything in this pot.

Chop your onion and heat a large dutch oven on med/high heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan and when it’s hot, add the onion.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com


Allow to cook until the onion is translucent,

chop your garlic and when the onion is nice and shiny, add the red pepper flake and garlic – stir.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

When the garlic is really aromatic, add the tomatoes and balsamic and stir well.  Careful.  The vinegar is strong smelling!! Lower the heat to low, cover and let it simmer.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

Allow everything to finish cooking.  Nothing’s going to burn – this is a no stress meal!  When the rice is ready, carefully add the okra, eggplant and tomato sauce to the rice. Stir well with a big spoon, plate and serve!

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com A little cracked pepper to finish is perfect!

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Slaw with Grapefruit Dressing

Summer is in full swing and cool dinners are a staple in our house in Florida.  I love experimenting with new salads and in particular, slaw – I had a Ruby Red grapefruit that needed to be used, so I decided to try a Slaw with Grapefruit Dressing.  I’m really glad I did. It was wonderful!

  • One large head of finely shredded cabbage
  • Juice of one Ruby Red grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • salt and pepper to tast

In a bowl, or large measuring cup, add the liquid ingredients, the sugar,  a big pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper.  Whisk very well and taste, you want to taste the grapefruit, and you want it to be slightly sweet.  Adjust the ingredients to you liking and whisk again.

Slaw with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from ColorMePink.com

In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cabbage – with tongs, toss – if there’s not enough liquid, add equal parts oil and white balsamic until everything is coated, but not swimming in it. Taste.  If it needs more sugar, go ahead and add it.  This is purely preference. Refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors marry -

We had this with our Vegan “Chicken” salad and it was perfect together, creamy, fruity, crunchy, sweet…. Hit all the right spots!

Slaw with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from ColorMePink.com


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Summer Harvest Warm Pasta Salad

Down here in Florida, it’s really hot.  This room temperature, or slightly warm pasta “salad” is a great way to use up all those summer veggies!  This warm pasta salad is unexpected and marvelous! My version makes enough to feed an army, feel free to scale it down – don’t worry about measurements, it will be awesome, I promise.

  • 2 Zucchini sliced thin
  • 2 Yellow Squash sliced thin
  • 3 Sweet onions sliced thin
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes rough chopped
  • 3 yellow nectarines rough chopped
  • 1 yellow bell papper julienne
  • 1 orange bell pepper julienne
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 3 boxes of pasta
  • salt and pepper

I have pretty great knife skills, but sometimes when I want a whole lot of veggies, very thinly sliced, I break out the mandoline.  It’s an amazing gadget and I love uniformly, thinly sliced stuff… so tonight, I put that gadget through a workout!

Using the mandoline, slice the onions, the squash, and the zucchini.  Keep them separated.

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

In a large dutch oven type pot, add some olive oil on med/high heat and then add the onions, we want a bit of a caramelize on them before we add the squashes which have a high water content and will hinder the brown on the onions.

Meanwhile put the salted pasta water up to boil and chop the rest of your vegetables and nectarines, keep the nectarines separate.  Don’t these peppers look delicious??

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

when the onions have a bit of brown on them, add the zucchini and squash, stir occasionally, but try to let everything get a bit of “bottom of the pan” time, so that they saute instead of just steam.

Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the garlic.  When it starts to smell really garlicky, add the nectarine and  1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar and step back.  You don’t want to breathe this in, trust me!  Allow it to cook down for another 5 minutes, shut the heat off and set aside. Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

Dump the pasta to drain and save the pasta pot, transfer the vegetable mixture from the dutch oven, into the pasta pot, add the pasta back and the raw vegetables.

Combine 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, with a 1/3 cup olive oil and a big squirt of Dijon mustard.  Whisk and pour over the pasta.  Gently, but thoroughly combine everything.

Plate a bowl, salt and pepper to taste and dig in.

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

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Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Potatoes

Decadent.  Did you ever feel like you just need carbohydrates?  Rough day?  Week? Month?  Yeah.  I had one of those days and I could not get the idea of pasta and potatoes out of my brain.  So?  I went with it.  This was so very good – comforting, very satisfying.  Feel free to halve the recipe if you’re rather not have leftovers for three days. I’m not complaining, but the leftovers could not be ignored and it turned into three days of eating lots of carbs.  Let me know if you try this, I’m very interested in hearing what everyone else things about Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Potatoes.

  • 1 bag of small red potatoes, cut into cubes,
  • 2 med eggplants, cut into cubes
  • 7 med. tomatoes (I could have used more, but that’s all I had) cubed
  • 3 large Vidalia onions, rough chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 boxes linguine

Preheat the oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Spray aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray.  Distribute half of each vegetable onto each tray.  Pour a liberal amount of olive oil over the vegetables, salt generously and then toss with your hands to coat all the vegetables.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com

Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour – you want the vegetables to have brown on them, especially the potatoes. My oven doesn’t heat evenly, so about half way through, I move the bottom sheet to the top and the top sheet to the bottom.
When they’re done, take them out of the oven and let them sit.  See all that brown?  That’s caramelization and it makes everything slightly sweeter and really delicious.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com

Meanwhile prepare the pasta according to package directions.  Drain them and put the pot back on the stove, with no heat under it.  Take one tray of vegetables and transfer them to the pot, make sure you get all the oil and garlic as well.  Put the drained pasta back in and then the second tray of vegetables. With tongs, toss well.  If it looks a little dry, add some more olive oil right to the pot and continue tossing.

Plate, serve and let the comfort food make that bad day disappear, just a little bit.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com

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Zoodle (Zucchini Noodle) Salad

These things are awesome!  I’ve been hearing about Zoodles (zucchini noodles) for years, but I’d never tried them.  This week I changed that.  I was really dying for some pasta, we all were and in our ongoing effort to stay off the processed carbs, I bought zucchini. I don’t have a spiralizer and I was really dreading the thought of trying to cut that much zucchini by hand -  but then I remembered that I have a mandoline and I thought that one of the blades, had to be able to get me close…

It did.

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

Honestly?  This is one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that we have.  But you can’t argue the results!  So I put on my big girl pants, made sure I used the safety grab thing and shredded some squash….

  • 1 package zucchini (about three med/large) noodled
  • 1 package summer squash (about 4 small/med) noodled
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • a bunch of kalamata olives, chopped (I just used what I had)
  • 1/2 jar marinated mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 squirt dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

So clearly, the measurements aren’t super important here.  Use whatever you have on hand and it will be fine, I promise.

First prepare the “zoodles”

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

Aren’t they gorgeous?  Totally worth the effort… Want to see them again?

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com Just gorgeous!

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Pour over the vegetables and toss very well to combine, but be as gentle as possible.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

These are so good!  I can’t even tell you – we had a very hard time waiting the whole hour, but it was worth it!

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