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. We’ll keep you supplied with a different salad for most of the remaining days of summer. (You are on your own for the rest.)
Jicama, mango, cucumber and carrot slaw: Thinly slice jicama (11/2 pounds), carrots (2 cups), 1 semi-ripe mango and 1 cucumber into a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons 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 diced shallots, 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño and 2 cloves minced garlic in 1 tablespoon butter until slightly softened. Add 2 cups corn kernels; cook for 4 to 5 minutes until corn is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; add 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons 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 green onions, 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 green onions 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 chopped romaine lettuce, 6 halved cherry tomatoes, 1 large shredded carrot. Add 1/2 pound sliced, cooked turkey cut into bite-sized pieces. Top with 2 tablespoons 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 minced garlic, 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 garlic clove, 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 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 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: Saute 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 sauté for about 3 minutes until corn is tender. Let it cool. Then toss with 1/2 cup of cooked bulgur, 1 jalapeño (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 mâche, then place on serving plate or bowl. Peel and segment 3 oranges and season with salt and pepper. Arrange orange segments on top of mâche. 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.