Turn salads into fun creations

Want to try an offbeat salad at home? Here are a few recipes:

PEANUTS & CRACKER JACK SALAD

1 head iceberg lettuce

1 cup Cracker Jack or other caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange segments, drained

 1/4 cup salted peanuts

 1/2 cup poppy seed dressing

Core lettuce; rinse and drain well. Cut crosswise into four even slices.

Top with Cracker Jack, orange segments and peanuts. Drizzle with dressing.

Serves 4.

— Recipe from Tanimura & Antle

COMPOSED GREEK SALAD

1 8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced crosswise

2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into rings

1 sweet onion, sliced into rings

20 Kalamata olives

10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

Cook artichokes in saucepan of boiling salted water 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Arrange artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and olives on large platter. Whisk oil, vinegar, oregano and lemon peel in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing evenly over salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.

Serves 8 to 10.

— Recipe from Bon Appétit

COMPOSED SALAD OF PICKLED VEGETABLES

1 cup haricots verts, trimmed

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 cup boiled medium-sized beets, peeled and quartered

1 pound micro or baby greens such as cress, beet or pea greens

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Pickling liquid:

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon whole coriander

2 teaspoons white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

 3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 whole garlic cloves

1 teaspoon whole cloves

Separately blanch and shock the haricots verts, pearl onions and cauliflower. Boil beets until fork tender. Layer the vegetables in a 1-quart pickling jar. Bring pickling liquid to a boil and reserve  1/2 cup for vinaigrette, pouring the rest over the blanched vegetables. Let sit overnight or at least 4 hours.

Make vinaigrette with  1/2 cup reserved pickling liquid and olive oil. Toss with greens. Arrange vegetables, season and crumble with goat cheese.

Serves 10 to 12.

— Recipe adapted from the Food Network

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