Summer salads have everything going for them.
They are fresh, packed with flavor and have contrasting textures. Bursting with colors, they are quick to toss together, easily portable and a great team player at any summer cookout, party or reunion.
So savor summer with salads made with vegetables, greens, pasta, grains and fruits.
Jicama, Mango, Cucumber and Carrot Slaw: In a bowl, combine thinly sliced strips of jicama (1 1/2 pounds), carrot (2 cups), 1 semi-ripe mango, 1 medium cucumber and 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro. In another bowl, whisk to blend the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Add dressing to slaw and coat well. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Tomato-Corn Salad: Cook 1/2 cup shallots (diced), 1 teaspoon jalapeno (minced) and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) in 1 tablespoon butter until slightly softened. Add 2 cups of corn kernels; cook for 4 to 5 minutes until corn is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; add 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix gently.
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios: Whisk 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 4 teaspoons sherry vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in large bowl. Add 2 pounds skinned, roasted beets sliced into wedges. Toss to coat. Add 2 cups baby arugula and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese and 2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pistachios.
Chopped Greek Salad: In medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 clove crushed garlic. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1 diced green pepper, 2 seeded and diced Kirby cucumbers, 2 diced tomatoes, 2 chopped scallions, 1 1/4 cup crumbled feta and 1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Warm Potato Salad with Lemon and Mint: Cook 3 pounds peeled and diced russet potatoes in salted boiling water until al dente; drain and transfer to serving bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, juice of 3 lemons and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, stirring gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. When cool, add 1 bunch finely sliced scallions and 10 fresh mint leaves cut in chiffonade. Stir gently to combine.
Kale Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts: Whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil until emulsified. Add 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise) and 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts, and mix with hands. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Just before serving, add 1 cup shaved Parmesan and toss to combine.
Club Sandwich Salad: Blend 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup tahini, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. In large bowl, toss 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped), 6 halved cherry tomatoes, 1 large shredded carrot. Add 1/2 pound sliced, cooked turkey or Tofurkey that is cut into bite-sized pieces. Top with 2 tablespoons vegan or regular bacon bits and 1/2 cup croutons. Drizzle with dressing, toss and serve.
Caesar Salad with Lemon Pepper Shrimp: In bowl, whisk together 2 egg yolks (or 1/4 cup pasteurized egg substitute), 1 clove garlic (minced), 1 teaspoon anchovy paste, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil, then stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Add 8 cups coarsely torn romaine lettuce and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1 pound shrimp that has been marinated in 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and lemon zest, and then grilled and tossed with 3 tablespoons lemon juice.
Chicken Satay Salad: Coat 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons peanut sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Grill about 3 minutes per side. Whisk 5 tablespoons peanut sauce, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine 1 chopped leaf lettuce (torn coarsely), 1/2 head romaine (torn coarsely), 1/2 cucumber (cut into matchsticks), 1 medium carrot (cut into matchsticks), 1 red pepper (thinly sliced) and 3/4 cup cilantro (chopped). Top salad with chicken, 3 tablespoons peanuts and drizzle dressing.
Spanish Chopped Salad: Blend 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons walnut pieces, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. In large bowl, combine 1 chopped head romaine, 2 cups baby spinach, 1/4 red onion (sliced), 1/3 cup walnut pieces, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 small finely diced apple and 1 cup finely diced cucumber. Toss to combine, then dress with vinaigrette. Top with 1 cup shaved Manchego cheese.
Mexican Tortellini Salad: Blend 1 teaspoon shallot (minced), 1 clove garlic (minced), 1 cup fresh cilantro and juice of 1 large lime. Add in 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place 2 cups of cooked cheese tortellini in large bowl and add half the vinaigrette. Add 1/2 cup cooked corn, 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed),1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes and 2 chopped avocados. Toss to combine. Add 1/2 cup cojita cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Lemon and Dill: Place 1 cup cooked orzo in large bowl. Add 1/2 cup green onions (thinly sliced), 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/4 cup chopped dill and a 19-ounce can chickpeas (drained). Toss gently to combine. In small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon cold water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic. Drizzle over pasta mixture and toss to coat.
Deconstructed Pesto Salad: Heat 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in skillet over low heat. Add 8 thinly sliced cloves of garlic to pan and cook until golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place 1 pound cooked fusilli with 1/2 cup reserved cooking water in large bowl and add olive oil mixture. Toss well. Add 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and 4 ounces coarsely grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss again. Just before serving, add 2 cups sweet basil leaves cut into 1/2 inch-wide chiffonade and toss again.
Roasted Tomato Pasta Salad: Chop 1 large clove garlic. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and mince mixture with knife until it’s a grainy herb paste. Transfer to bowl. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons wine vinegar. Whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Place 1 pound cooked pasta in large bowl. Add 4 cups roasted grape tomatoes, 6 ounces ricotta salata, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and 1/2 cup olives (pitted and chopped). Add dressing to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Top with a handful of chopped basil leaves.
Macaroni Salad: In large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni, 1/3 cup sliced celery, 1/3 cup finely diced red pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/4 cup shredded carrot and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Can refrigerate in airtight container up to 3 days.
Minted Summer Couscous with Strawberry and Feta: Place 2 teaspoons lime zest and 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 3 limes) in small screw-top jar. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Shake vigorously until dressing is amalgamated. Place 2 1/2 cups cooked couscous (1 cup dry) in large serving bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup celery and 1/2 cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves. Drizzle dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with 1/2 cup crumbled feta.
Garden Tabbouleh Salad: Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 cup lemon juice until creamy. Pour 1 cup hot water over 3/4 cup bulgur and let sit for 30 minutes until water is absorbed. Mix together 2 cups parsley (cut chiffonade), 1 cup diced tomato, 1/2 cup cucumber, 4 finely diced green onions and 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Add bulgur and mix. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss to coat.
Dried Cherry and Brown Rice Salad: In large bowl, mix 1 cup cooked brown rice, 2 cups canned lentils (rinsed and drained), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2 red onion (diced), 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves, 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 cup dried cherries (softened in hot water). Refrigerate for 20 minutes, then serve.
Quinoa Salad with Oranges and Dates: Place 6 cups cooked quinoa (2 cups dry) in large serving bowl. Add 2 cups chopped orange segments and 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates. Stir to separate any chunks. In another bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup olive oil, then stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with 1/4 cup toasted pistachios.
Corn Bulgur Salad: Sauté 3 cups of corn kernels and 1/4 teaspoon salt in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 medium-sized red onion (diced) and saute for about 3 minutes until corn is tender. Let it cool. Then toss with 1/2 cup of cooked bulgur, 1 jalapeno (thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, few pinches of cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro before serving.
Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry Salad: Mix 2 1/2 cups watermelon (cubed) and 1 cup blueberries in a bowl. In a cup, mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons honey; pour over fruits. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves. Top with 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese. Mix gently. Chill before serving.
Tropical Fruit Salad: In large bowl, add 1/2 cored and cubed fresh pineapple, 1 peeled and cubed mango,1 peeled and cubed papaya and 2 peeled and sliced kiwis. Drizzle with juice of 1/2 lime. Divide fruit among 4 plates. Pound 1 small bunch fresh mint with 2 tablespoons castor (superfine) sugar. Add a little yogurt on top of each plate, then sprinkle each with mint sugar. Garnish with additional fresh mint leaves.
Strawberry Salad: Stir together 3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 3 tablespoons orange juice with pulp. Chill for 20 minutes. In large bowl, toss together 1 1/2 cups hulled and halved strawberries, 3/4 cup halved seedless grapes, 1/4 cup torn mint leaves and 4 to 6 cups baby spinach. Drizzle dressing on top before serving.
Fennel, Citrus and Avocado Salad: In small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss with 4 handfuls mache, then place on serving plate or bowl. Peel and segment 3 oranges and season with salt and pepper. Arrange orange segments on top of mache. Top salad with 2 fennel bulbs (sliced wafer thin) and 2 sliced avocados.
Coconut-Watermelon Salad: Toast 1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes until golden brown in oven at 400 degrees. Let cool and set aside. Mix 3 tablespoons condensed milk, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, juice of 1 lime and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drizzle mixture over 5 cups of cubed watermelon. Top with coconut flakes before serving.
Sources: “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen; “Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking” by Annie and Dan Shannon; “Simply Ancient Grains” by Maria Speck; “Rosewater & Orange Blossoms” by Maureen Abood; “The Big Book of Sides” by Rick Rodgers; “Seven Spoons” by Tara O’Brady; “Southern Living Ultimate Book of Barbecue”; Food Network Magazine; smittenkitchen.com; cookinglight.com; and twopeasandtheirpod.com.
You need a big bowl to toss a salad; don’t pack all the ingredients in a small one as the salad would end up looking disheveled.
Use only fresh lettuce.
Wash greens well to keep food-borne illnesses at bay. Also, dry greens well as the dressing will cling to them better and the flavor won’t be diluted.
Before you add any dressing, season the salad with salt and pepper.
The best tools are your hands. Run your fingers down the sides of the bowl bringing the greens and vegetables at the bottom to the top. This way you won’t crush them.