Memorial Day has long been the unofficial beginning of summer. The first warm 3-day weekend of the year. The first day you can break out those white shoes. And, like so many other American holidays, Memorial Day means food, and lots of it. Here are three healthy, and delicious alternatives to your old picnic standbys
Course 1: Farro and Spring Vegetable Salad with Feta
This is a killer seasonal salad. Take advantage of the bounties of spring and even include the Italian superfood farro.
For the parsley-mint dressing:
- 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and very thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch baby carrots peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 bunch asparagus, very thinly sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
- 2 to 3 oz. tender pea tendrils
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups farro
- 2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 cup English peas
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup diced Meyer lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch strips
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh lemon juice, to taste, plus 2 tablespoons
- 4 oz. French feta cheese, crumbled
To make the dressing, in a blender, combine the parsley leaves (leave the stems behind), mint, garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and half of the olive oil. Start the blender on low, then rapidly increase the speed to high while slowly adding the remaining olive oil. Adjust consistency by adding olive oil. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
To make the salad, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and thyme, stirring often, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the dry farro and cook, stirring, until the grains are lightly toasted and coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Add 10 cups water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender and just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain the farro and transfer to a baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the English peas and cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to the ice water, then drain and dry on paper towels.
In a large bowl, combine the farro, mint, diced lemon, sugar snap peas and English peas and toss with 1/2 cup of the parsley-mint dressing. In a separate large bowl, combine the fennel, carrots, pea tendrils and asparagus and toss with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the farro onto a large platter. Arrange the fennel mixture on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 6 to 8.
Course 2: Fresh Salmon Burgers
Fire up the grill, but skip the fatty beef patties. Try these lean, omega-3-rich fresh salmon burgers. They’re quick and easy!
- 1 slice white bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill or thyme, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Sour Cream
First, soak bread in milk until soft, about three minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop salmon, and place in a food processor. Pulse several times until roughly chopped. Add bread and milk, salt, 2 tablespoons of thyme, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Pulse several times until well blended.
Form salmon mixture into 4 to 6 patties, and place on a lightly oiled plate. Grill burgers over medium-hot coals (or on a grill pan over medium-high heat) 3 to 5 minutes or until done. Serve on a bun with sour cream and a light sprinkle of fresh dill.
Course 3: Peach Angel Dessert
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert. Try this lighter fruit-centric gem at your Memorial Day gathering.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/4 cup peach, apricot or orange gelatin powder
- 1 loaf-shaped angel food cake (10-1/2 ounces)
- 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
- 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
- 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed
- 3 cups sliced peeled fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced peaches, thawed
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in water and corn syrup until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Cool to room temperature, stirring several times.
Cut angel food cake into nine slices. Line an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish with the slices; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in milk. Set aside 1/3 cup of the whipped topping for garnish. Fold remaining whipped topping into cream cheese mixture; spread over cake. Top with peaches. Pour gelatin mixture over peaches.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Cut into squares. Top each piece with about 1 teaspoon of reserved whipped topping. Serves 15.
Share these goodies with your friends and family this Memorial Day. Not only will you have something uniquely delicious, your potluck creations will be uniquely healthy.