Summer is finally here!! The warm sun shines down making the harsh New England winter seem worlds away. I absolutely love the summer. It means warm and carefree days. It means listening to the squeals and laughter from the kids playing as I soak up my daily dose of vitamin D. And of course, summer means my garden is starting to flourish. This year I planted lettuce, beets, tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, mint, basil and radishes. To me, not much beats a fresh summer salad on a warm day. Why, you ask? Because all the fruits and vegetables are fresh and taste delicious. And summer is HOT. My 1931 Colonial house does not have central AC, making dinner preparations not fun. In fact, it’s just miserable cooking in a hot kitchen. Salads are my simple solution to that problem. I find salads to be very versatile, so if one person in my family does not like a particular ingredient we can leave that one thing off. Easy-Peasy.
Here are a few of my favorite summer salads that the entire family enjoys:
Whole Foods gave this recipe out last summer during the peak of Strawberry Season. It’s unique, delicious and a great item to bring to a BBQ!
Spring Salad with Strawberries & Creamy Orange-Avocado Dressing:
3 green onions (chopped)
½ avocado (peeled and pitted)
½ Cup orange juice
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 ounces spring greens or mesclun mix
1 cup sliced strawberries
½ pound asparagus (trimmed and sliced into strips)
Puree green onions, avocado, juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth. In a large bowl toss greens, strawberries and asparagus together. Transfer to plates, drizzle with half the dressing and serve. Extra dressing will stay good in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.(http://m.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/spring-salad-strawberries-and-creamy-orange-avocado-dressing)
My next favorite is called a power salad. It’s a protein packed salad that will leave you feeling satisfied and energetic.
6-8 cups shredded Spinach
1/4 c Pine Nuts
1/4 c Feta cheese
1 c cherry tomatoes
2 grilled Chicken Breasts cut into strips
1 Can black beans rinsed and drained.
Corn (from a cob or about 4 ounces from a can slightly cooked so it’s still crispy)
Optional: Bacon bits from 3 pieces of extra crispy bacon
Mix salad ingredients together.
Dressing: 3 tspn white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
My last “go to” salad is prefect for lunch or a light dinner. It can also compliment a cheese burger nicely. (It’s summer, I know we all love to grill out!)
Farmers Market Salad:
1 Medium Zucchini
Lemon Juice from a quarter of a lemon
Corn-either from the cob or 4 ounce can (slightly cooked so it’s crispy)
1 medium tomato – diced
1 tbsp red onion – chopped
3 tbsp vinaigrette
pinch of sea salt
1 small wheat pitas (pocketless)
Thinly slice zucchini horizontally into long ribbons. Cut Ribbons in half length wise to make long strips. Toss zucchini with lemon juice and salt and set up paper towel. Microwave corn for a minute (should stay crispy). Combine corn, tomato, onion and half of vinaigrette. Toast pita bread and cut into bite size triangles.
Serve by putting the pita on the bottom with a layer of zucchini, then top with corn mixture. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and serve.
Eat well and have a fantastic summer!
Do you have any favorite summer salad recipes?
*Photo Credit: morgueFile and DepositPhotos