With grilling season upon us, the thing I look most forward to is the array of fresh flavors that salads and slaws bring to the table. This Asian-style recipe is packed full of flavor, with less calories than mayonnaise laden dressings.

1/2 pound English cucumber (1 large)
6 cups Napa cabbage
2 cups carrots
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce*
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 fresh jalapeño chili
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, stem, seed and mince the jalapeño. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, jalapeño and garlic.

Wash the cucumber, cabbage and carrots. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise; trim and discard ends. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds out and discard. Finely shred the cabbage. Grate the carrots.

Combine the prepared vegetables in a large bowl and pour the dressing over, toss to coat. This salad can be served immediately or covered and chilled for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Kept longer, the cucumbers will weep and the salad will become excessively wet and limp.

*Fish sauce can be found in most larger grocery stores. Asian dishes use fish sauce in the way American dishes use salt. Fish sauce has the consistency of vinegar and is deeper in color than cider vinegar. I have seen much thicker fish sauce but have not tried it as I keep anchovies on hand to intensify flavor when needed. In a pinch, to give the dressing the proper consistency, you can use chicken stock with a dash of sea salt.

To serve, add the peanuts and toss to mix.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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A super quick dessert, this self glazing fruit salad recipe starts with a can of peach pie filling. Spoon it overleft over biscuits and add a dollop of whipped cream for an extra special treat.

1 21-ounce can peach pie filling
3 firm bananas
2 cups strawberries
1 cup seedless grapes

If you’re using fresh strawberries, rinse, hull and cut the strawberries in half. If you’re using frozen strawberries, allow to partially defrost and cut in half while still slightly firm. Peel and slice the bananas. Rinse the grapes and remove from the stems.

Combine all ingredients in a lidded bowl. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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This super easy cucumber salad recipe is very good and seasonally budget friendly. The dressing is made from things most cooks keep on hand.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups cucumbers, sliced

Wash the cucumbers and treat the skin the way you like best. You can remove the peel completely. Or take a decorative approach by removing long lengths of the peel with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Or drag the tines of a fork the length of the cucumber. When sliced, these treatments will render different effects.

In a bowl that will accommodate all of the cucumbers, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add the cucumbers and stir to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Alternately, you can create the components of this salad a day ahead. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and seal tightly. Slice the cucumbers and place in a separate lidded container. Cover the top of the cucumbers with a damp paper towel; cover tightly. Store dressing and cucumbers in the refrigerator. Two hours before serving combine dressing and cucumbers; cover and return to the refrigerator and allow to marinate.

Note: this salad should be eaten within 24 hours. If kept longer, the cucumbers become soft and loose the wonderful contrast between the cucumbers and dressing.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

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Cabbage is a great food budget extender, making this slaw inexpensive and easy to prepare. The dressing is on the sweet side.

2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vinegar

1 large head cabbage, finely chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 medium onion, grated
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated

Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush (do not grind) the celery seed and mustard seed. Alternately, you can place the celery seed and mustard seed in a heavy plastic bag and lightly crush by rolling over a few times with a heavy can. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place the prepared vegetables in a large lidded bowl and add dressing. Toss to distribute dressing thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Yield: 3 – 4 quarts.

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Another great food budget stretcher. Carrots, raisins and apples come together to create a naturally sweet slaw that make it easy to get kids to eat their veggies.

6 medium carrots
3/4 cup celery
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup apple
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Pepper, freshly cracked and ground

Scrub the carrots, wash the apple and celery. Peel the onion. Grate the carrots, chop the onion, slice the celery and dice the apple. Place the carrots, onion, celery, apple and raisins in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise and stir well to incorporate.

Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.

Yield: 6 servings

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