- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Salads can make great eating most of the year, but they have a special place on summertime menus.

It’s easy enough to throw into a salad whatever’s at hand, but it’s also fun to try specific combinations of ingredients for a change of pace.

Olives in various forms give salads a flavor lift, antipasto-style. Here are a couple of salad variations using olives to serve at the dining table or for al fresco eating and picnics. These salads are tasty enough to serve as antipasti but substantial enough for a light entree.

Double olive antipasto salad

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces smoked mozzarella or Gouda cheese, diced (3/4 cup)

2 ounces Genoa salami, diced

½ cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimiento, halved crosswise

½ cup black ripe pitted olives, halved crosswise

1/3 cup drained hot or mild giardiniera (pickled vegetables) or diced cherry peppers (from a jar)

½ cup fat-free garlic croutons

4 cups baby spinach leaves

In a large bowl, combine oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper; mix well. Add cheese, salami, both olives and giardiniera, tossing to coat. Cover; chill at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Add croutons to olive mixture, tossing to coat. Arrange spinach leaves on serving plates; top with salad. Makes 4 servings as side dish or 2 servings as main-dish salad.

Shrimp and green olive antipasto salad

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon anchovy paste, or 1 anchovy, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces cooked, peeled and deveined medium shrimp

½ cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimiento, halved crosswise

½ cup halved cherry tomatoes or yellow teardrop tomatoes

1/3 cup diced roasted red, or red and yellow, bell peppers, drained

1/3 cup coarsely chopped, marinated quartered artichoke hearts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

8 large Romaine lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper; mix well. Add shrimp, olives, tomatoes, peppers, artichoke hearts and cheese, tossing to coat. Cover; chill at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Serve shrimp mixture over lettuce leaves. Makes 4 servings as side dish or 2 servings as main-dish salad.

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