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Eating Well: Cool summer salads perfect mealtime entrée

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With the warmer days of summer finally arriving, it's time to turn to cool satisfying salads as a refreshing, lighter meal option, long on favor but short on that heavy, stuffed feeling.

Pasta is a wonderful base when you are looking for an entrée a little more substantial. Salads prepared with grilled meats are also extremely appealing. Accompany all with a crusty, fresh baked bread or crisp, tasty crackers, add a huge glass of iced tea, and cap it all off with a little frozen yogurt or fresh fruit and you have the ideal summertime meal, perfect for family or entertaining friends.

With plenty of vegetables, the "Spiral Shrimp Salad" makes a wonderful summer lunch or light dinner.

The flavorful "Creamy Chicken Salad" is delicious and if there are any leftovers, only gets better with time.

The "Hearty Eight Layer Salad" is equally as scrumptious, so simple to make, and so pretty with all its colorful layers.

The "Taco Salad" is also a wonderful recipe and a true meal in itself. I like to add about a ½ cup chopped green onions also, and in addition to the salsa, serve sour cream and guacamole as complimentary side garnishes.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking.

Spiral Shrimp Salad

2 ½ cups frozen cooked salad shrimp, thawed

2 cups broccoli florets

1 ½ cups cooked spiral pasta

1/3 cup each chopped green, sweet red and yellow pepper

1/3 cup sliced green onions

¼ cup real mayonnaise

½ cup Italian salad dressing

¼ tsp. dill weed

Combine the shrimp, broccoli, pasta, peppers and onions in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, blend mayonnaise, salad dressing and dill together. Pour over shrimp mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill at least two hours. Will serve approximately six.

Creamy Chicken Salad

2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

1 cup cooked small ring pasta

1 cup halved seedless red grapes

1 can (11-ounce) mandarin oranges, drained

3 celery ribs, chopped

½ cup sliced almonds

1 tbsp. grated onion

1 cup real mayonnaise

1 cup whipped topping

¼ tsp. salt

Combine the chicken, pasta, grapes, oranges, celery, almonds and onion in a bowl.

In another dish, combine the mayonnaise, whipped topping and salt. Add to the chicken mixture, stir to coat. Serve in lettuce lined bowl. Makes about six servings.

Hearty Eight-Layer Salad

1 ½ cups uncooked small shell macaroni

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 cups shredded lettuce

3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 cup julienned fully cooked ham

1 cup julienned hard salami

1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed

1 cup real mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup chopped green onions

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 cup shredded Colby or Monterey Jack cheese

2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Place the lettuce in large glass serving bowl, top with macaroni and eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer with ham, salami and peas.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and mustard. Spread over the top. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley just before serving. Serves about ten.

Taco Salad

2 ripe tomatoes, diced

2 cups sharp shredded Cheddar cheese

1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, drained well and shredded

1 pound lean ground beef

1 large onion

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 cup Catalina salad dressing

1 (7 ounce bag) taco flavored chips, crushed

1 cup salsa

Tortilla chips, to serve

Brown the ground beef with onion, crumble well and stir in taco seasoning. Shortly before serving, combine the ground beef with tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, in a large bowl. Add the salad dressing and mix well. Just before serving add the taco chips, tossing to combine with other ingredients. Top each serving with salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.