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Your best easy salads for a Memorial Day BBQ

I have offered to bring 3 salad type dishes to my friend's BBQ Memorial Day weekend. I am seeking easy, 5 ingredients or less, no mayo dishes and amazing fantabulous..come on, gimme your best recipes...

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  1. How about cucumbers, thinly sliced, with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds. And if permitted a sixth ingredient...a little sugar.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

      I do cucumber, dill, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

      1. re: Bellachefa

        I do the same thing but with fennel as well, and both sliced on a mandolin. Yum!

        1. re: Midlife

          looking fowrard to trying the fennel cuke combo with my garden dill!

      2. re: LA Buckeye Fan

        Here's my favorite: Asian Cucumber Salad: (I try to get the Japanese cukes, 2nd choice: Persian.
        3rd would be hot house, would probably remove the seeds of this one.)

        1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned) or distilled white vinegar
        1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
        3 Tablespoons water
        3 Tablespoons sugar
        1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
        6 pickling cucumbers. halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups) I peel some of the outside, not all.
        2 shallots, thinly sliced
        1/2 Serrano chile (or more) minced
        6 sprigs of cilantro, chopped (I prefer to omit the cilantro.)

        Combine vinegar, lime juice, water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well and add the cukes, shallots, chile and cilantro.

        I think it's even better after being in fridge a few hours. I usually double the recipe because it lasts in fridge a few days and is great to snack on.

        1. re: walker

          Ahh, very nice. Our family's version is similar, but with 1-2 cloves of finely minced garlic added.

      3. This has more than 5 ingredients, but I don't count the olive oil and salt & pepper. It serves 2 of us for lunch with no other dishes, but expands very easily.

        Pasta Blue Cheese Salad

        ¼ lb penne rigate
        1 clove garlic, very finely minced
        3 Tbsp olive oil
        Juice of ½ lemon
        ¼ C. coarsely chopped walnuts
        4 oz crumbled bleu cheese
        1 C. baby spinach or salad greens
        Salt & pepper

        Place all ingredients except pasta in a large serving bowl. Cook pasta al dente. Drain and immediately toss with ingredients in the bowl. Add more S&P and olive oil if desired.

        1. watermelon, feta, mint, lime, a little olive oil if you like, (or not,) pepper.

          shaved asparagus, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, s&P

          3 Replies
          1. re: magiesmom

            ok add more ingredients..keep em coming...

            1. re: phelana

              shredded carrots, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice maybe raisins
              Have you seen mark Bittman's 101 salads article?

              1. re: magiesmom

                Thanks for the link, magiesmom! It added some inspiration to my grocery shopping this afternoon!

          2. Nothing like a strictly fruit fruit salad - no sugar, just fruit garnished with a bit of mint.

            Also love a tomato balsamic basil and fresh mozzarella salad - maybe with some sliced sweet onion or not.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bellachefa

              +1 Honeydew and galia melon balls do this particularly well, especially if you can stick it in the freezer til it's almost frosty.

            2. How about a raw kale salad? It holds up well even once it's dressed. Some combos I like: kale, chickpeas, avocado and red onion with a lemon-cumin vinaigrette; kale, julienne carrot and apple, tahini dressing.

              8 Replies
              1. re: piccola

                mmm...kale dressed with goodhealthgourmet's peanut butter dressing!

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  thanks for the shout out, chica! the dressing alone is over the OP's "5 ingredient" limit, but i'll link to it anyway just in case:

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Meh, I counted the dressing as a separate five-ingredient recipe. It's a loophole. :)

                    1. re: piccola

                      ha! when i first saw "Meh" i thought you were about to say you don't like my recipe.

                      i can get on board with the loophole ;) and in that case i also second the earlier suggestion for Super Slaw.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Oh, I would never be that dismissive about someone's recipe. It's just plain rude!

                        1. re: piccola

                          that doesn't always stop people around here from expressing their opinions ;)

                          but yes, i would have been quite taken aback at something like that coming from you because you're usually a sweetheart.

                          anyway, back to kale salad for a minute...ever toss in some dried cherries or currants? it's a delicious twist, particularly with a white balsamic or champagne vinaigrette.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Aw, thanks. I'm a firm believer in the Golden Rule.

                            I haven't tried adding dried fruit, but now that you mention it, it seems like a genius idea. I mean, I combine currants with cooked bitter greens all the time, so why not in a salad?

                            1. re: piccola

                              it's a really great combination. you can use golden raisins or dried cranberries too - i just prefer cherries or currants.

              2. Another vote for a cucumber salad...this is the one I make.


                Also, this Super Slaw is on my menu for July 4th. More than 5 ingredients, but still pretty simple.


                1 Reply
                1. re: valerie

                  Super Slaw gets super-raves every place I've taken it to!

                2. Royal Potato Salad (from Ottolenghi's book Plenty). Essentially, it is potatoes, pesto, peas and quail eggs. Rich and delicious. It's a poshed up potato salad without mayo. Here's the recipe http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                  1. I've always had great luck with a salad of new potatoes (fingerlings work well here too) cut into bite-sized chunks and boiled in properly salted water. Before you start the potato water, slice some onion - red, spring or whatever you have on hand - very thinly on a mandoline. Macerate the onions with a little white vinegar to remove the bite while the potatoes are boiling. Chop some basil or parsley (or both) and set aside. Drain potatoes when tender and dress them while still warm with lemon juice (last time I used sherry vinegar), plenty of salt and pepper and some ev olive oil. Throw in chopped herbs and quick-pickled onions. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve at room temp.

                    1. Diced tomatoes and cucumbers with feta and couscous - olives optional - season with olive oil, lemon juice, and some chopped mint. Gets better as it sits, and gets *devoured*

                      Tomatoes and mozzarella as above.

                      Grilled veggies (eggplant/aubergine, zucchini/courgette, different colored peppers, tomatoes, and onion) tossed with pasta and dressed with balsamic and olive oil (no dairy, and also crazy popular)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I like to add chickpeas to a tomato and cucumber salad I make similar to the one you mentioned -- and I do dice the tomatoes and cukes smaller than I do for other salads, about chickpea size or just a little larger.

                      2. Here is a salad we absolutely love, love, love. We have it every July 4th and at other times.

                        Romaine and Melon Ball Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

                        1 small red onion, thinly sliced

                        3 cups balls or bite-sized pieces of ripe cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, or other fresh melons

                        1-2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

                        2 T coarsely chopped or torn basil leaves

                        1 T coarsely chopped or torn mint leaves (sometimes I omit the mint)


                        1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

                        3 T raspberry vinegar

                        2 T finely chopped basil leaves

                        1 T finely chopped mint leaves (sometimes I omit the mint)

                        Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

                        Place the onion slices in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes, drain, pat dry, and combine with the melon balls, Romaine lettuce, and herbs. Toss gently to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and toss gently with the melon mixture immediately before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

                        *If I have a bottle of good purchased raspberry vinagrette, I will use that.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Wtg2Retire

                          This sounds really great, I think I'll have to try it!

                          1. re: cathyeats

                            I hope you like it as much as we do, cathyeats.

                        2. Here is one that i've done in a pinch. There are a lot of variations, but basically the ingredients are the same.

                          Canned black beans - rinsed
                          frozen corn
                          Pico de Gallo (tomatoes, minced fresh peppers (i like serranos), garlic, red onion, lime juice, fresh cilantro)
                          a little olive oil
                          cumin and salt to taste

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            I was going to suggest a black bean and corn salad that I do.

                            When I can, I use Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn -- it adds a nice flavor.

                            I don't usually use Pico de gallo because I can't always get a good fresh one (although it does help for the OP's 5-ingredient limit in this case). I usually do diced fresh tomatoes, sometimes diced red peppers, scallions, lots of fresh cilantro, some lime juice and a little EVOO. (I know, basically just all of the pico de gallo anyway!) I also add some cumin.

                            Even people who aren't huge bean eaters like it, and it works well for vegetarians at the gathering too.

                            1. re: eamcd

                              I make my own pico, too. You're right, i did it to get under 5 ingredient limit.

                          2. A friend brought the following to a BBQ I hosted once and everyone LOVED it despite its ridiculous simplicity:

                            1 bag frozen shelled edamame (1lb?)
                            8 oz smoked salted almonds
                            mayonnaise to taste

                            Combine all and mix well. By the time you get where you're going, the edamame will have thawed but kept the salad cold! I know you said no mayo but you could do something similar with a vinaigrette I assume.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: biondanonima

                              This sounds like it would be delicious with a gingery or garlicky vinaigrette.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                That sounds fabulous. I could see eating that as a main dish when I'm the only one around. I will definitely try this as one of my salads for my MIL's b-day dinner. Approx how many people do you think that would serve?

                                1. re: Isolda

                                  As I recall it was quite filling - I'd say it would serve 6-8 as a side, maybe more if it were part of a large potluck spread. My friend said she often does it with frozen peas as well, but I detest them and love edamame so I was happy she went that route. You could add any number of other things to fancy it up, but really, it was great with just the three ingredients!

                                2. re: biondanonima

                                  I have been meaning to reply to this for a while- I made this as one of my side salads for a BBQ we hosted earlier in the summer (based on this thread), and everyone LOVED it. No one could believe how crazy simple and easy it was and it went fast. Good mayo and the salty almonds are key. Thanks. It's a keeper.

                                3. Our latest find for a salad -- shaved asparagus! For once we actually look for the thick stalks....

                                  Toss shaved asparagus with parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice/zest (one ingredient or two?), and olive oil. Parseley is garnish, right? :o)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: stomsf

                                    love the shaved asparagus idea. fennel or radish works beautifully with this treatment too.

                                  2. How about a Ramen Salad? Cabbage, Ramen Noodles. Maybe more than 5 ingredients, but the dressing is all pantry ingredients.

                                    1. Cabbage Slaw
                                      Shred head of red cabbage. Add 1/2 c. of red wine vinegar, 1/2 c. of white vinegar, 3/4 c. of veg. oil, 1 T dry mustard, 1/2 to 3/4 sugar mix in bowl, chill overnight.
                                      Love the crunchy cabbage.

                                      1. A really simple pasta salad that seems to be really enjoyed is something like rotini or shells with blanched, shelled edamame, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto. Pest and s-d tomatoes are among the ingredients thought dated, but people like them lots (count me in), and the flavors and textures work well together. Easy to make lots for a crowd, if you need to.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          I think the reason people think pesto and s-d tomatoes are dated is because so many bad restaurants overuse them. But when made well, pesto is delicious and when used sparingly, sdt's really make pasta dishes come alive.

                                          1. re: Isolda

                                            I always seem to forget how delicious pesto can be until I make it at home. I made asparagus pesto this week and had a hard time resisting the urge to eat it with a spoon.

                                        2. I like sweet corn, avocado, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: chefematician

                                            i love this one. i also do a charred corn salad inspired by elote, aka Mexican street corn.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              love the idea of trying a corn salad, ghg when you have a chance can you post ingredients or recipe?

                                              @chefematician yours sounds great, drooling ;)

                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                one of these days i should write up an actual *recipe* for my fellow Hounds, but in the meantime:

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I'm really looking forward to making this over the summer ghg, thanks so much, you never fail to deliver!

                                                  1. re: lilgi

                                                    you know i'm always happy to share with you :) be sure to read through all the replies below the initial one because we expanded on the possibilities in the ensuing discussion...though IMO, it's all about personalizing it to suit your tastes. enjoy!

                                          2. Green Bean Feta Salad

                                            It can be 6 ingredients if you use a bottled dressing. In a big bowl combine blanched green beans, halved grape tomatoes, toasted walnuts, thinly sliced red onions and crumbled feta. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette and chill overnight for best flavor.

                                            Chick Pea and Black Bean Salad (8 ingredients)

                                            Combine a can of rinsed chick peas and a can of rinsed black beans with chopped garlic, s&p, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red onions and celery salt. Again, marination overnight yields the best flavor.

                                            Shrimp & Crab Ceviche (7 ingredients)

                                            Bay shrimp, crab meat mixed with s&p, chopped tomatoes, lots of lime juice, tons of chopped cilantro and red onions. I learned that you really have to watch the salt because the seafood itself is quite salty. Also if your crab and shrimp aren't very sweet, a little sugar can help.

                                            And the above mentioned charred corn salad always knocks my socks off.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: soypower

                                              This salad is really easy and well liked by both adults and kids:

                                              2 bags frozen white corn

                                              2 small cucumbers, diced

                                              half cup mayonnaise

                                              4 green onions, chopped

                                              1 medium tomato, chopped

                                              salt and pepper to taste

                                              Mix all together and chill before serving.

                                              ** taste better the second day

                                              I use grape tomatoes cut in half instead of a chopped tomato.

                                            2. OK, a few more than five ingredients, but this black bean and sweet potato salad is phenomenal:

                                              1 very large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
                                              2 t. olive oil
                                              1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I recommend Eden brand – no BPA in the cans)
                                              4-5 scallions, sliced
                                              1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
                                              Juice and zest of 1 lime
                                              1 t. dijon mustard
                                              1/4 c. olive oil
                                              2 T. chopped fresh basil or cilantro
                                              1 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
                                              Freshly ground black pepper

                                              Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the sweet potatoes with 2 t. oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until potatoes are tender. Put the roasted potatoes in a large bowl with the black beans, scallions and red pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the lime juice, zest, mustard and herbs. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add this dressing to the bean-potato mixture and gently mix. Season with salt, pepper and additional lime juice to taste.

                                              1. I make a potato and green bean salad with a basic mustardy vinaigrette that is served at room temp. Boil small red potatoes till tender. Remove potatoes from water, place beans in 1" pieces in water, cook until desired doneness and drain. While still warm, dice or slice potatoes and season with Old Bay or Cajun seasoning. Dressing: olive oil, whatever vinegar you like, and spicy brown mustard to taste. Combine everything and let sit for flavors to mature.

                                                  1. Cheese tortellini with some feta, kalamata olives, EVOO, grape tomatoes.

                                                    Grape tomatoes, small mozzarella balls, basil, EVOO.

                                                    Baby arugula, blue cheese cubes or crumbles, dried cranberries (sparing with berries) vinaigrette of your choice.

                                                    S and P, added, of course.

                                                    1. Oh! I almost forgot this one (scroll to the end of the post) : http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                                                      I've made it with fresh peas instead of shell beans -- it's must faster and easier, and I bet you'd get good results with frozen peas too. Anyway, it's a great, substantial salad that feels a little "newer" than pasta salad.

                                                      1. I used to buy this from Whole Foods but it's so easy, I just make it myself.
                                                        Cooked capelini or you could use any pasta, really.
                                                        Lots of fresh lemon juice, 2 lemons or so
                                                        chiffonade of basil
                                                        lemon zest
                                                        cubed fresh tomato