By Deborah Eisenhut

As the summer heat even diminishes all desire to tackle meal preparation in the kitchen, think cool, think refreshing, think light and healthy! With the local produce coming in by the bushels and every busy day needs a cooling time, try salads. One of the most versatile food groups which can include veggies, fruit, cold meats and grains, try some delicious combinations for a complete meal that can be as satisfying as a hot meal.

Summer Peach & Tomato Salad

Fabulous use of fresh peaches and tomatoes in August! Follow recipe exactly.

1/4 cup vertically sliced red onion

1/2 pound ripe peaches, pitted and cut into wedges

1/4 pound heirloom or beefsteak ripe tomatoes cut into wedges

1/4 pound heirloom cherry or pear tomatoes, halved

1 Tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. evoo

1 tsp. honey

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

2 Tbsp. small fresh basil leaves

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine vinegar, evoo, honey, s&p in a small bowl, stir with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over peach mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with basil and cheese. Chill and serve same day

Insalata Caprese

4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 pound fresh quality mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/3 cup fresh small basil leaves

3 Tbsps. Each evoo and balsamic vinegar

sea salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper

On a large platter, alternate and overlap the tomato slices, mozzarella slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with oil & vinegar (can mix first)

Season with s&p and serve.

Summer Lentil Salad

Cook 2 cups lentils until tender, al dente. Drain and cool.

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced red onion

1/3 cup sweet balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 evoo

2 Tbsp. dried oregano

Gently toss lentils, celery, onion together in bowl. Whisk vinegars, evoo, oregano in separate bowl; drizzle over lentil mixture & toss to coat. Cover with wrap and chill at least an hour to 2 days.

Grandma’s Sweet & Tangy Bean Salad

1 can each green beans, kidney beans, wax beans, corn kernels all drained.

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1 cup diced cucumber (optional)

1 cup chopped red, yellow or orange chopped or thinly sliced

3/4 cup white vinegar

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt

Mix all of veggies in a bowl. Stir the rest of ingredients in saucepan, bring to a full boil until sugar dissolved, about 5 minutes & set aside to cool. Pour vinegar mixture over bean mixture, marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain excess marinade before serving.

Spinach Salad with Peaches & Pecans

3/4 cup toasted pecans

2 ripe peaches (peeled if desired) cut in bite size pieces

4 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried

1/4 to 1/2 cup poppyseed dressing

Combine peaches, spinach & pecans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until evenly coated to desire.