Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now

Community Cookbook: Sensational summer salads just in time for Memorial Day

The Imi-Crab Salad is just one of my sensational summertime salads that pair well with Memorial Day festivities.  (Getty Images)
By Dick Sellers For The Spokesman-Review

Salads frequently play minor support roles, dishes that help round out meals. They’re often an afterthought, like store-bought dinner rolls. Some salads are so good they always draw attention. Here are three. These vibrant salads are ready for summer and any time of the year. Serve them at picnics and serve them at holiday dinners, like Memorial Day. They’re elegant, visually impressive, and they travel well. Did I mention that they’re delicious?

Imi-Crab Salad

Most grocery stores have their own signature imitation crab salad. Some are plain, with few ingredients, while others are more sophisticated. One of the best I’ve tasted is the original Albertsons version. This salad is similar but has more vegetables and cheese to balance the “crab’s” sweetness.


⅔ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¾ teaspoon granulated sugar

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces shredded imitation crab (about 2 cups)

½-⅔ cup shredded medium Cheddar cheese

⅓ cup of quarter-inch diced celery

⅓ cup finely sliced green onion

¼ cup drained and finely chopped black olives


Make the dressing by combining the first four ingredients (through black pepper). Combine the remaining ingredients in a 6-cup serving bowl. Add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.

Notes: Keep the salad cold. Made with regular mayonnaise, the salad will last several days in the refrigerator. If made with light or fat-free mayonnaise, use the salad within 3-4 hours of adding the dressing for the best quality. The dressing and salad can be prepared separately, ahead of time (they won’t turn watery on their own), then combined before serving. Louis Kemp Crab Delights, Trans Ocean Crab Classic, and Kanimi are top-rated imitation crab brands (flake-style is the easiest to shred).

Yield: Makes about 4¼ cups

Broccoli and Fruit Salad

Some time ago, I ate a little leftover broccoli salad from a local grocery store my sister-in-law had left at mom’s. The salad was good, but not as good as it could have been. The broccoli pieces were too large and were left raw. Partially cooking bite-sized broccoli and adding more fruit was a big improvement. Honey-mustard dressing fits the salad perfectly.


3 cups fresh bite-sized broccoli florets

¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved

⅓ cup red grapes, halved

1 apple, sliced into 1-inch long by 1/2-inch wide strips, measuring ½ cup

2 tablespoons salted, roasted sunflower seeds

¼ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup honey-mustard salad dressing


If using pre-cut broccoli, slice any oversized pieces into bite-sized. Cook the broccoli in a microwave oven on high power (don’t add any water) until just tender enough to be a comfortable bite. When done, drain in a colander. Spread the broccoli out on paper towels to cool and dry out a little. Pat with paper towels before using. Combine the remaining ingredients, except the dressing, in a medium serving bowl. Stir in the broccoli and salt. Add the dressing and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes: A handful of orange or pineapple chunks and/or cooked chicken go well in this salad. Add extra dressing to accommodate additional ingredients.

Yield: Makes about five side-dish servings

Greek-Style Lentil Salad

Lentils are almost as Idahoan as, well … famous potatoes. I was first introduced to lentils while attending the University of Idaho. The vegetables and dressing for this salad, and many Greek lentil salads, are similar to those found in pico de gallo, a popular Mexican salsa. Could Homer’s Ulysses have been the first European to reach the New World?


8 ounces dried lentils (about 1⅛ cup)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 large dried bay leaf

2 to 3 Roma tomatoes, seeds and juice removed, sliced into half-inch pieces, measuring 1 cup

½ cup loosely packed, chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves

⅓ cup finely diced red, white, or sweet onion

⅓ cup

⅓ cup seeded and ribbed jalapeño or bell pepper, finely diced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¾ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

3 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (slightly less than ⅔ cup)


Sort, rinse and drain the lentils. Bring the lentils, water, salt, and bay leaf just to a boil in a covered medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring several times. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly simmer (the liquid should barely bubble) until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat, as needed, to maintain a slow simmer. Drain and discard the bay leaf.

While the lentils are cooking, combine the next five ingredients (through jalapeño or bell pepper) in a medium bowl. When the lentils have cooled to warm, add them to the vegetables.

Make the dressing by adding the next four ingredients (through black pepper) to a very small, watertight jar and secure the lid tightly. Shake vigorously until the contents are emulsified (mixing with a fork will also do). Add the dressing to the bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Stir in the Feta cheese. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Stir well before serving.

Notes: Be careful not to boil or overcook the lentils or they’ll be mushy. Balsamic vinegar or citrus juice may be substituted for red wine vinegar. Mexican Cotija cheese is a good substitute for Feta cheese.

Yield: Makes about 5½ cups

Dick Sellers is a freelance writer found at