I love summer parties and barbecues with my favorite people and some of my favorite foods – grilled burgers and chicken, smoked baby back ribs, and tons of yummy salad. This past 4th of July we were blessed to attend not one but two holiday barbecues – one with my family and one with my husband’s. I wanted to contribute a dish to both parties, but on such a busy day, there’s no time for fussy cooking. Those are days when I turn to recipes I call “Costco hacks,” dishes I can pull together in a few minutes with simple ingredients from my favorite warehouse store. With a little creativity, you can dress up drab pre-made salads and make them truly party-worthy.
Dressed-Up Greek Pasta Salad
The first Costco salad kit that dresses up nicely is the Greek pasta salad, with chicken breast, feta cheese, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, artichokes and Greek dressing. Served as-is, the salad would be heavy, oily and a little bland, with too much dressing and too few vegetables. Luckily, you can liven up this salad by serving it with fresh greens and adding a little more of the stuff that makes it tasty.
Here’s the super-simple recipe:
- One container Greek pasta salad from Costco (found in the deli section by the other prepared salads)
- 2 medium heads romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed, and cut into one-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken (I like the cooked rotisserie chicken Costco sells, but you can use any cooked chicken)
- 3/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 20-30 grape tomatoes
- 20-30 Kalamata olives
- 1 cup pepperoncini pepper rings
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the prepared lettuce in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Layer on the pasta salad and other ingredients, top with the dressing from the salad kit, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. That’s it!
Superfresh Superfood Salad
The other “Costco hack” salad I made for 4th of July is even easier. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Eat Smart Sweet Kale Salad Kit Costco has been carrying lately, but it’s a gorgeous, colorful, crunchy and tasty salad with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and chicory. Dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds add sweetness and even more crunch. The bag states that the salad contains seven “superfoods,” and it’s definitely healthy. I love this salad, even though I don’t normally like kale.
The poppy seed dressing that comes with the salad is a little bland, so I like to freshen it up by blending it with 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Balance out the tartness of the lemon by adding a teaspoon of sugar or agave syrup (optional). It’s a simple hack that really wakes up the salad.
After whisking together the lemon juice, poppyseed dressing and sugar or agave, simply toss together all the ingredients from the salad bag, pour on the dressing, season with a little salt and pepper, and mix.
Isn’t this salad gorgeous? I love adding fresh touches to prepared foods, especially when I don’t have time to cook. Put it in a pretty bowl, and everybody will think you made it from scratch!
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