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Summertime Picnic Salads

by Linda Marienhoff Coss


Ahh, summer. The sun is shining, the kids are out of school, and life just seems to move at a slower pace. Summer is the time for outdoor eating and outdoor entertaining. Picnics, potlucks, barbecues and block parties are all great excuses to get outside and enjoy being with friends and family.


This summer, why not expand your repertoire of easy make-ahead salads? There are so many possibilities beyond coleslaw and ambrosia! Try combining boiled or steamed slices of carrots and zucchini with cooked pasta, black olives, and your favorite oil and vinegar salad dressing for an easy pasta salad. Top off a platter of baby greens with fresh raspberries and thinly sliced apples. Or just cut up a big bowl of those fabulous summer fruits – plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, and whatever else looks good this week at your supermarket or local farmer’s market. 


Here are three salads that are ideal for picnics and other outdoor events. Because they do not contain any milk, egg or meat products, they won’t start to spoil as soon as you take them out of the cooler to serve the meal. Enjoy!



Fruited Carrot Salad


This salad is one of my son Kevin’s favorites.


Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Refrigeration Time:  4 hours


1 (1 pound) bag pre-peeled baby carrots

2/3 cup mixed dried fruit bits (or mixed dried fruit, chopped)

3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Using a food processor that has been fitted with the shredding disk, grate the carrots.  Place carrots in serving bowl; add dried fruit bits and mix well. 


To make dressing, place raspberry vinegar, canola oil, olive oil, cinnamon and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix well. Pour dressing over salad; mix well. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve cold.


Makes 5 cups.

 Fruited Carrot Salad by Linda Coss

Photos courtesy of Laura Giletti


Reprinted with permission from What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Marienhoff Coss, available at




Tabbouleh Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


This is a nice change of pace from the usual picnic fare.


Preparation and cooking time: 18 to 20 minutes


1/3 cup sun-dried tomato halves (the dry variety, not oil-packed)

1 (14.5 ounce) can fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth(1-3/4 cups broth)

1 cup bulgur (i.e., cracked wheat), uncooked

2 green onions (scallions)

1/4 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves

1 medium clove fresh garlic

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

lemon slices or fresh parsley sprigs for garnish (optional)


Cut each sun-dried tomato half into 4 pieces. Place broth, bulgur, and sun-dried tomatoes in a 3-quart pot; stir. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until bulgur is tender and liquid is absorbed.


While bulgur cooks, prepare rest of ingredients. Chop green onions, including the green tops. Mince parsley. Set prepared onions and parsley aside. Peel garlic and press through garlic press. To make dressing place pressed garlic, lemon juice, and oil in a small mixing bowl; mix well.


Place cooked bulgur mixture, chopped onions, minced parsley, and dressing in a large serving bowl; mix well. If desired, garnish with lemon slices or parsley sprigs. Either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.


Makes 4 servings (3/4 cup each).


Reprinted with permission from What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Marienhoff Coss, available at




Cool and Fresh Pasta Salad


This fruity pasta salad is so refreshing, it's perfect for a hot summer day.  Plus, it's very low in fat and is loaded with vitamin C – it's nutritious, delicious, and easy to make!


Preparation time:  5 minutes

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Refrigeration time:  8 hours


1 (12 ounce) package Rotini

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon bottled minced ginger or minced peeled fresh gingerroot

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 (16 ounce) bag frozen stir-fry vegetables (including sugar snap peas, broccoli, green beans, carrots, celery, water chestnuts, onions, and red pepper), not thawed

1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks packed in juice, reserve juice

1/3 cup undiluted frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed


Cook pasta following manufacturer's instructions.  Drain.


While pasta is cooking, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium high heat.  Add ginger, frozen vegetables, and soy sauce to skillet.  Sauté for approximately 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are thawed and heated through.


Place drained pasta, cooked vegetable mixture, canned pineapples with juice, and orange juice concentrate in large serving bowl; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Serve cold.


Makes 9 cups.


Reprinted with permission from What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Marienhoff Coss, available at



About the Author


 Known as one of the “pioneers” in the food allergy world, Linda Coss is the author of three popular food allergy books: “How to Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies,” “What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook,” and “What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook.” All three books are available at

A former food allergy support group leader, Linda is the mother of a son, soon to be a college graduate, who has multiple life-threatening food allergies. Linda lives in Southern California, where she works as a freelance marketing writer.



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  • Fruited Carrot Salad by Linda Coss
  • Fruited Carrot Salad by Linda Coss
Tags: Salad, Recipes

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Comments (3)

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Thank you for cooking it up and taking the photos! Were you able to find the mixed dried fruit bits, or did you just use raisins? It's hard to tell from the photo. The carrot salad would still be delicious either way.


It was really fun and easy to prepare the salad for photographing!  The cinnamon in the dressing is an unusual choice but goes so well to bring out the sweetness in the carrots.  


Linda has provided so many delicious allergy-friendly recipes over the years, and it is an honor to be able to provide some color to Linda's post.

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