A sunny Saturday – what a concept!  The perfect weather for a trio of salads and sandwiches.

The salad concept was a bit of clean-out-the-refrigerator necessity. The eating patterns have changed a bit and I’m still trying to get a handle on it all. Naturally, I’m producing too much food, because if I made too much for two, adding another person  just means I have to make even more. Never mind the fact that if I didn’t increase my amounts at all, all three of us would still eat and Cybil would still get leftovers.

And it’s not like I’m not trying to cook less. I am. It’s just that some things have a habit of getting away from me.

Like salads.

My first salad today was a beef and bean.  I had some tri-tip left over, and I thought a little Mexican-inspired salad was in order.


I cubed the beef, added a can of black beans and a can of shoepeg corn, and then I thought some diced tomatoes would be good, some chopped roasted red pepper, salsa… Next thing you know I have a big bowl of salad. I didn’t start out making a big bowl of salad, but…

Beef and Bean Salad

  • 1 lb cooked beef, cubed (Give or take. Amount can vary significantly.)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can shoepeg corn, drained (or any canned corn or 1 cup frozen)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

This really is a clean-out-the-refrigerator salad. You can add bits and pieces of anything you like. The salsa dressing pulls it all together.

And then, because I had fennel that needed using up, I thought I’d make a salad from the fennel and lentil dish I made a while back with pork tenderloin. I tweaked things around a bit and it made a good cold dish!


I really, really like lentils and was rather hoping Nonna would, too. She likes lentil soup but the jury is still out on the salad. I’ll probably be doing some lentil side dishes without a lot of other things in them to get her used to the idea.

Lentil and Fennel Salad

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 basil leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • olive oil
  • sherry vinegar (or vinegar of choice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook lentils in 3 cups water until done – about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving a bit of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, saute diced fennel, diced, onion, diced carrots, and minced garlic until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add a half-cup or so of the lentil cooking liquid and stir and cook until liquid evaporates and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and mix in lentils.

Add basil, cranberries and chopped pecans (or any fresh herb, dried fruit, and nut combination you have) and mix well. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste. You definitely don’t need a lot.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

This worked well. The lentil/fennel concept can be taken a million-and-one ways – hot or cold. I see it happening, again.

And then, because I really wanted to make sure there was at least one salad Nonna liked, I made a basic macaroni salad.


Elbow macaroni, celery, mayonnaise. I forgot to add the hard-cooked eggs. Oh well. She didn’t miss them – and she ate a hefty helping!

Macaroni Salad

  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 pickle, minced
  • garlic powder
  • mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook macaroni. Drain and cool. Mix in celery, carrots, pickle, and a bit of garlic powder. Add about 3/4 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup sour cream. Mix well. Add more mayo or sour cream iof salad seems too dry.

Check for seasoning and add S&P, as needed.

Nonna tried the other two but this was the one she liked the best. There’s something to be said about familiarity…

The sandwiches were thin-sliced chicken breast drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then quickly grilled. Served on whole wheat burger buns.

Nonna had tomato and mayo. Victor had lettuce, tomato, and mayo, and I had avocado, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. A perfect soft, ripe, and creamy-luscious avocado.


Did I mention I also made an apple pie for dessert?