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Dale Carson Likes Summer Fare Chilled and Chopped

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According to the Oxford American Dictionary, a salad is described as “a cold dish consisting of one or more vegetables (usually raw), often chopped or sliced and seasoned.”

It’s an apt description of a simple side dish. A salad and some crusty bread or a baked potato seem essential with steak, just like coleslaw is a staple side dish with barbecue.

But salads are no longer just an appetizer or something to pair with an entree. Today salads are often the main meal—a mix of healthy, hearty ingredients that can be adapted year round.

When I try new vegetables and fall in love with a new flavor combination, it is often with a salad of native ingredients.

I especially enjoy fresh, native foods at pow wows. I make a crowd-pleasing Black Bean and Corn Salad and love to enjoy a watercress-based Smokey Mountain Salad at the gatherings.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

2 cans black beans, drained

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 green bell pepper, fine chopped

1 red bell pepper, fine chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

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5 scallions, sliced thin

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine

Using a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, peppers, lime juice, oil and vinegar. Mix well. Chill for at least 2 to 3 hours so the flavors can mingle. Just before serving garnish the salad with scallion and parsley.

Smokey Mountain Salad

1 bunch watercress

10 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

4 scallions, chopped

4 slices bacon, well cooked, drained, warm drippings reserved

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 pinch sugar

Use a large bowl to combine greens. Crumble bacon on top. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of reserved drippings with the vinegar. Combine well by whisking and pour over salad, toss and serve immediately.

Optional: Add crumbled blue cheese and croutons

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American CookingNative New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with them and her husband in Madison, Connecticut.