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 (1½ 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, ½ teaspoon chile powder, ½ 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 ½ cup shallots (diced), 1 teaspoon jalape ñ o (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 1½ 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 ½ 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 ½ cup crumbed goat cheese and 2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pistachios.
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.
Chicken Satay Salad: Coat 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons peanut sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon chile powder and ½ 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), ½ head romaine (torn coarsely), ½ cucumber (cut into matchsticks), 1 medium carrot (cut into matchsticks), 1 red pepper (thinly sliced) and ¾ 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, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1/3 cup olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt.
Blend until smooth. In large bowl, combine 1 chopped head romaine, 2 cups baby spinach, ¼ 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 ½ cup cooked corn, 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed), 1½ cups halved grape tomatoes and 2 chopped avocados. Toss to combine. Add ½ 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 ½ cup green onions (thinly sliced), ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, ¼ cup chopped dill and a 19-ounce can chickpeas (drained). Toss gently to combine.
In small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon cold water, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ 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 ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place 1 pound cooked fusilli with ½ cup reserved cooking water in large bowl and add olive oil mixture. Toss well.
Add ½ 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 ½ – inch-wide chiffonade and toss again.
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, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Shake vigorously until dressing is amalgamated.
Place 2½ cups cooked couscous (1 cup dry) in large serving bowl. Add 1½ cups sliced strawberries, ½ cup celery and ½ cup loosely packed torn fresh mint leaves. Drizzle dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with ½ cup crumbled feta.
Garden Tabbouleh Salad: Whisk together ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon chile powder and ¼ cup lemon juice until creamy. Pour 1 cup hot water over ¾ cup bulgur and let sit for 30 minutes until water is absorbed.
Mix together 2 cups parsley (cut chiffonade), 1 cup diced tomato, ½ 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), ½ red onion (diced), ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves, ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ 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 ½ cup chopped pitted dates. Stir to separate any chunks.
In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Gradually beat in ¼ cup olive oil, then stir in ¼ cup chopped parsley. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with ¼ cup toasted pistachios.
Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry Salad: Mix 2½ 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 ¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves. Top with ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese. Mix gently. Chill before serving.
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 1½ cups hulled and halved strawberries, ¾ cup halved seedless grapes, ¼ cup torn mint leaves and 4 to 6 cups baby spinach. Drizzle dressing on top 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.