Last Updated on by Danish Kahn
ULTIMATE SUMMER SALADS
Locally Available Produce
Salad, sadly, sometimes gets a bad rep. Your mind might make the jump from “Salad” directly to that dreaded word – “Diet.”
Improving your summer salads starts in your neighborhood. Check out your local farmer’s market for the freshest (many times organic) ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, squash, green onions, sweet onions, bell peppers, strawberries, blackberries … and the list goes on.
Depending on what part of the country you are from and what the season is, you should be able to get much of your produce locally. And significantly less expensive than the big box grocery store.
Homemade Salad Dressing for Summer Salads
Do you like creamy dressings or vinaigrette styles? Both can be made in just minutes with no more equipment but an immersion blender and a Mason jar with a lid on it.
Creamy dressings are usually mayonnaise based. There are many great mayos on the shelf so store-bought is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course you can make your own!
Add salt and pepper, a few herbs (finely chopped so you don’t end up with a chive stuck between your teeth,) maybe some cheese. A good shake for several minutes or even less time with your stick blender and you have a super summertime salad on your hands.
If you want a protein boost and a little crunch at the end, add a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seats, cashews or macadamia nuts.
Summer Salads for a Meal
Living in the South, the summer months string together a time that it is highly inconvenient to turn on the oven. There is the pre-heating up time, actually cooking the item and then the cool down period.
That usually means at least a couple of hours that my oven is fighting with my air conditioner. I like the oven, but I LOVE the air conditioner.
One July, my son said sweetly, “Mom, please make one of your good pot roasts.”
What a sweet thought! My baby wanted something special that obviously made him feel good. I looked back at him and said (in the most adoring motherly voice I could muster) “Son, talk to me in October. That’s when we can turn the oven on.”
But Where’s the Beef?
Many of your favorite salad components could use a boost of protein, especially if it’s your main meal. My suggestions are:
- Step outside and grill several skewers of shrimp, chunks of beef, bite-sized pieces of chicken. Make enough to store in a ziplock in your fridge or in your freezer if you prefer.
- Pick up a rotisserie chicken and shred it. Here’s a cool method I learned on You Tube!
The best way to enjoy the bounty of the season. Pick up several of your favorite fruits, peel and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with a light dressing or sprinkle a little sweetner on it (Splenda or Stevia works perfectly!
If you can’t get fresh, get frozen. Canned fruit has preservatives and lots of extra sugar.
If you see something in the store that looks interesting but you haven’t tried it, pick one up and include it with the other fruits you do know and like. There’s a better chance you will find something new very tasty if it’s with things you don’t know.
Sunshine salad is a mixture of “Cutie” orange sections, Kiwi and Pineapple all delicately tossed with a delicious Mango-Ginger Dressing. The fresh ginger is the real secret.
CUTIE, KIWI, PINEAPPLE AND LIME FRUIT SALAD
- 1/4 cup orange juice with mango
- 1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime zest and juice of the lime
- 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger from about a 2-inch piece
- 1 pound Cutie oranges
- 1 pound kiwis about 5 medium kiwis, peeled and cut into large dice
- 16 ounces pineapple from about 1 medium pineapple, skin removed, cored and cut into large dice (pre-cut and trimmed pineapple from the deli is a great timesaving substitute.)
- Whisk together the juice, brown sugar, lime zest and ginger in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Peel and dice kiwi, removing any thick membrane, pith or tough ends. Cutie oranges are simple to peel and require little additional trimming.
- Add the kiwis, orange sections and pineapple to the dressing bowl, and gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours before serving. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad or toss it right before serving for extra freshness and flavor.
MEDITERRANEAN ORZO PASTA SALAD
I make this all the time, especially when I take food to a sick friend or family who is in need. It is one of my Go-To Dishes. People ALWAYS want to know the recipe.
MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLE ORZO PASTA SALAD
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup green onions white and green parts, sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 12 ounces orzo pasta cooked to al dente and cooled
- 15- ounce can artichoke hearts
- 1 1/2 cups sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Turn off the burner, add in asparagus pieces, and blanch for 3 minutes. While the asparagus is in the water, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan. Sauté garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, just until tender. Add green onions to warm pan. Drain the asparagus, and rinse with cool water.
- In a large bowl, add cooked orzo pasta, asparagus pieces and sautéed onions and garlic. Drain artichoke hearts and quarter them, adding them to the bowl. Add in sun-dried tomatoes with oil and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl or container, whisk together lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly pour olive oil into the vinegar, whisking continuously. Once the mixture is emulsified, stir the dressing into the salad. Move to the refrigerator for at least 6 hours for flavors to meld. Serve cold.
SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH POACHED SHRIMP AND POPPY SEED DRESSING
- One bag baby spinach pre-washed
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted
- 1 pint strawberries hulled and quartered
- 1/2 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and finely diced
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp poached or sautéed
- 1 lemon juiced
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute such as Splenda
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a roiling boil. Season with a large pinch of kosher salt. Add shrimp and lemon juice, remove from heat, and cover. After about 5 minutes, the shrimp should be opaque. Remove from hot pan and set aside. (Shrimp require very little cooking — no direct boiling maintains tenderness and flavor.)
- Whisk all dressing ingredients together in bowl, and chill in the refrigerator. In a large salad bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients except the shrimp. Arrange greens on serving plates, top with shrimp, and dress just before serving.