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Calling all summer salads!

OK, We are cleaning up the grill, sprucing up the deck, feeling peppy in the warm spring air: so what are are best ideas for summer salads???

Give up some ideas of what works for you...talk about some new ideas you have had.

Summer awaits.

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  1. My favorite salad is greens or spinach, pickled beets, goat cheese, and pine nuts.

    A salad-like side dish that comes to mind is one of my favorites come from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. It contains:
    Coucous plumped with veg broth (I use chicken)
    chopped toasted walnuts (I toast them quite thoroughly so they stay somewhat crunchy)
    chopped parsley
    juice and rind of an orange
    dried cranberries

    Delicious! And it's good at room temp; actually better than straight out of the fridge.

    1. cantaloupe, smoked salmon and mint
      watermelon, feta, black olives and mint
      couscous with tons of shredded parsley, mint and basil
      pickled carrot shreds with cumin, ginger and rosewater
      blanched green beans or asparagus with hard-boiled egg shredded over
      nicoise salad
      citrus salad
      strawberry, kiwi and poppyseed
      watercress with preserved lemon and toasted almonds or pistachios
      roasted peppers with olives and goat cheese

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I like the sound of that cantalope, salmon and mint. Do you add anything else at all? Olive oil or anything?

      2. I make a cold asparagus salad that is just divine and can be prepared ahead:
        It is a very simple vinaigrette but it is really refreshing cold and does get better with a few hours in the fridge.


        4 Replies
        1. re: daily_unadventures

          that sounds great- how much asparagus is used for the vinaigrette? I'm just wondering if I should double it for a large quantity of asparagus.

          1. re: pamd

            It makes quite a bit, I always have extra - which I quite like. In the past I have used I would say about a 3" in diameter bundle? Apparently I don't think in actual mass...

            1. re: daily_unadventures

              thanks Katerina- the asparagus salad was great, some people asked for the recipe!

        2. I make a vinegar based potato salad with bacon and blue cheese that I got off Epicurious a few years ago. As soon as the waether gets warm, my hubby and all my friends demand that I make it. Hope you like it.

          1. A household favorite among my family is blached green beans that are shocked then cut into thirds, tomato wedges, red onion "pickled" in red wine vinegar with nutmeg and a simple vinagraitte of red wine vin. and olive oil, s&p.

            1. I love shaved fennel or celery with lemon juice and salt. That's it. If you want to get fancy, throw some basil with the fennel or parsley with the celery.

              Grated raw beets mixed with plain yogurt, orange zest and mint.

              Steamed chayote chunks with spicy vinaigrette.

              Arugula, red onion and peaches with sesame-ginger dressing.

              1. Here are two versions of spinach salad that show up frequently at our summer potlucks...

                Clarice's Spinach & Strawberry Salad

                1 pkg baby spinach (approx 1 lb)
                1 to 2 baskets fresh strawberries
                2 to 4 green onions, sliced
                (or sub red onion, or 1/2 c chopped SWEET onion if in season)
                1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, almonds, or walnuts (optional)

                Prepare salad ingredients. Use whole fresh baby spinach or stem and tear large fresh spinach leaves into bite size pieces. Slice or quarter berries, not too thin, depending on size. Slice green onions into 1/2 inch thick rounds or coarse chop sweet type.

                Poppyseed Vinegrette:
                1/2 c sugar
                1/2 c salad oil (not olive)
                1/4 c vinegar (red wine, light balsamic, cider - your choice)
                2-3 tsp poppy seeds
                1/4 tsp sweet paprika
                1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
                1/4 tsp dry mustard powder (optional)
                Few slices crisp, chopped bacon (optional)

                Mix well and chill for a while to blend flavors.

                Assemble salad and dress just before serving (spinach wilts quickly on standing with dressing) or assemble and serve dressing on the side. Double for a crowd - (two baskets of berries are plenty for 2 pkgs spinach).
                Paula's Spinach and Mandarin Orange Salad

                8 cups torn spinach (about a 10 ounce bag)
                1 pkg. presliced mushrooms (8 ounces)
                2 cans (11 ounces each) mandarin orange segments, in light syrup, drained
                1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (1 ounces)
                2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans
                1/2 cup fat free raspberry vinaigrette (such as Girard's)

                Place 2 cups of spinach on each of 4 plates. Arrange 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1/3 cup oranges over spinach. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese and 1&1/2 teaspoons pecans; drizzle each with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Makes 4 large servings.

                1. Epicurious's recipe orzo with everything...orzo, pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, parm. cheese, basil, radicchio..I made this salad for Teacher's appreciation and now have to email the school secretary with the recipe because everyone loved it so much!!!
                  Also, Super slaw from Epi. too....EXCELLENT and would be great with grilled shrimp or chicken, I ate it one night with canned salmon!

                  1. Lately I've been making salads with olive oil packed tuna, or water packed red salmon. I mix in chopped onions, capers, pickles (just a teeny bit), chickpeas and then put it atop fresh spinach leaves.
                    I've also taken to making a lemon dressing which is just lemon, olive oil and dijon mustard - very refreshing! It also goes with just about everything - potatoes, salads, etc.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yumcha

                      I also make a summer couscous that I serve with anything grilled. I cook couscous and bring it to room temp. Add olive oil, some fresh squeezed lemon juice, chopped tomato, cucumber, onion and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and fresh mint if it is season.

                    2. I like making a grilled ratatoille salad. I chope the requisite vegetable into bite size cubes of various dimensiouns: zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, egglplant, fennel. Then add gralic, fresh tarragon, and salt. Stir to coat the vegetable and then grill them in batches. As they come off the grill, into a salad bowl they go, correct the seasoning and I serve at any temperature. Even cold leftover are yummy!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: markethej

                        I made something similar tonight - grilled asparagus, onions, corn, cabbage (no lettuce in the house!), crook neck squash. Added grape tomatoes and a teeny bit of pasta (someone was craving pasta salad ...) I dressed it with a citrus-pepper-cilantro vinaigrette. It was a hit.

                      2. Caprese Salad

                        Especially when your tomatoes are ready.


                        1. barley, brown rice, or farro is a great base for salad. i add whatever is in season -- corn, tomatoes, cilantro; eggplant, mint, tomato, feta; radicchio, pancetta, ricota salata, etc.

                          i also love a good grilled caponata, with charred onions and eggplant

                          panzanella -- bread salad with tomatoes, basil, red onion, mybe some fennel, anchovies

                          shredded raw kale is surprisingly delicious with shaved parmigiano, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and currants. (that one is from a place called alias in new york).

                          string beans and potatoes with pesto...

                          also, grill up a flank steak and slice it over some arugula -- tagliata. or make a thai salad with the flank.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ndl

                            I just made up my own salad tonight of some things I needed to use up and it was great!

                            It had chick peas (cooked from dried in water with onion/garlic/kombu), fresh fava beans simmered and skinned, 3 colors of beets roasted in oven, tomatoes, red onion, with vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, garlic, olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice. The multicolored beets really make this salad. Might be even better without the beans, but it was a good way to use them.

                          2. I love to make a cold rice salad....add to cooked rice, multi colored chopped bell peppers, some red onion, chopped mushrooms, black olives, chopped scallions, and any Italian dressing of your choice...chill well and serve. Sometimes my son even adds some feta cheese to his.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bac528

                              I made a similar one this week with some tomatoes and grilled chicken. I used white rice and I think next time I think I'll throw in some black.

                            2. Here's one I invented this past weekend ...

                              16-oz package frozen purple hull peas, cooked, salted, and cooled
                              corn cut from 3 cobs, blanched, and cooled
                              1 orange bell pepper, diced
                              1/2 lg purple onion, diced
                              sweet grape tomatoes, halved
                              2 avocadoes, diced
                              fine herbes
                              freshly-ground white pepper
                              raspberry balsamic vinegar
                              1T olive oil
                              imported parmesan (garnish)

                              Yummy ...

                              1. Summer screams for potato salad...coleslaw, cucumber and onions in sour cream, ripe tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella then drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves ( I refuse to say the EVOO word!), and yes the old favorite 3 bean salad,
                                cold pasta and rice salads...fresh fruit salads..on and on...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jinet12

                                  Cold shrimp and pasta salad is in my rotation. In fact, I think I'll make some tonight.

                                2. Not fancy, but good & really easy.

                                  Diced Proscuitto
                                  Creamy Peppercorn Dressing

                                  1. Nothing tastes like summer to me like wilted fresh greens salad with a hot bacon drippings & vinegar dressing, crumbled bacon/hardcooked eggs/scallions or red onion.

                                    With the leaf lettuce I like scallions, with spinach, red onion. Here, to save typing out my own, is a very good recipe for the spinach/red onion variation. Thin-sliced radish adds zing, texture, and nice color.

                                    (Pre-washed baby spinach, of course, makes this a real snap.)


                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: PhoebeB

                                      There you go. Wilted lettuce. I was hoping I wasn't the only one who eats it.

                                      Our version is about as simple as you can get: fill a big bowl with leaf lettuce, top with a little onion and sugar, then drizzle with cider vinegar. Fry some bacon cut into pieces, and dump that, grease and all, over the lettuce. Toss well. It's a thing of beauty.

                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                        That's almost exactly how I do mine, except that I add the vinegar & sugar to the drippings and get it all hot. (I do love the chopped hardcooked egg in it; makes the dressing wonderfully creamy and the salad more substantial. If you've never tried it, do.)

                                        I wish I had a dollar for every huge bowl of that we scarfed down when I was a kid. It was the harbinger of summer in Dallas, scallions and lettuce being the first things ready to pick from the Victory Garden. With cornbread it made a meal, and I've not tasted many better meals since.

                                        1. re: PhoebeB

                                          Actually that's one of my food phobias--chopped hardcooked eggs in anything other than tuna or egg salad. Can't do it. Dates back to a horrible Christmas Eve experiment my dad brought home from the cafeteria for us all to try. Ew.

                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                            If you tell me I don't want to hear the story I'll believe you.

                                    2. Just found this one, and it's divine: thin-sliced radishes, chopped hard-boiled egg, and parsley, tossed with a dijon vinaigrette made with finely-chopped shallots, and lots of salt and pepper.

                                      1. wheat berries, cucumber, red pepper, feta, and mint. I usually just dress it with good olive oil and wine vinegar, salt & pepper. it tastes fantastic after being in the fridge overnight, too. sometimes I add olives, zucchini, flat parsley, whatever I have readily available. but I love the wheat berries, and lots of fresh herbs.

                                        1. One can hearts of palm, cut into bite sized pieces
                                          One (just ripe enough) avocado, ditto
                                          Juice of one lemon (or less, depending on taste)
                                          drizzle of good olive oil
                                          sea salt

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sed231

                                            This sounds so good and just the level of complexity I do best at :o). I love hearts of palm and don't know enough things to do with them.

                                            1. re: PhoebeB

                                              I love hearts of palm too, and often just eat them plain, but this is a great recipe for using them. Just make sure that the avocados aren't overripe, because if they are, you will end up with guacamole with chunks of hearts of palm in it. The lemon really brightens everything up, too.

                                          2. Not really a salad but canteloupe and prosciutto
                                            edamame and radishes with sesame oil vinaigrette
                                            curried couscous salad from Silver Palate
                                            cold sesame noodles with carrots and cucumber
                                            rice, avocado, black beans, corn, and diced red pepper with lime vinaigrette
                                            Paula Deen's coleslaw
                                            Lettuce, broken up spicy blue corn chips, shredded cheddar, black beans, diced cucumber, salsa and extra hot sauce. I guess you could add some avocado as well.

                                            A really good cookbook for salads is "Once Upon a Tart."

                                            1. Latest obsession...Jicama. Grate it and mix it with dressing made from creme fraiche, squeeze of lemon juice, touch of honey, sprinkle of fresh chopped marjoram. The hardest part of this recipe is finding the jicama, peeling and grating these huge brown monsters. But, the reward is a bright white, crunchy and fresh tasting flesh. If you can find it, add some Penzey's Sunny Paris...bonus!

                                              1. Lots of great ideas on this thread!

                                                I'm trying to eat more grain based salads lately (as a strategy for eating less pasta). I just made a nice bulgher salad with roasted broccoli, scallions, a very lemony vinaigrette, and goat cheese. Very tasty and satisfying!

                                                1. my favorite summer salads are panzanella and greek salad.. although tonight I made an amazing salad of baby greens, goat cheese, chopped figs with a reduced balsamic dressing, purely heaven

                                                  1. i love using raw corn, cutting it off the cob into a bowl with maybe some minced onion, cilantro, bell pepper, lime juice.

                                                    (this is warrenr's wife, too lazy to log out and log back in)