Once upon a time, salads were viewed only as “diet” food. Or maybe a boring side salad that kept your hunger at bay while you awaited your entrée. Well, much like fanny packs which have somehow crept their way back into the fashion trends, salads are making a comeback. And in a BIG way. (And unlike the reemergence of fanny packs, this is a GOOD thing.)
An entire episode of the popular television show Seinfeld was dedicated to the “big salad.” And now that salads are becoming more popular as a main meal, there is no limit in terms of ingredients and flavor combinations. Some salads don’t even include lettuce, which goes to show just how far we’ve really come.
And with summer just around the corner, I have put together a few of my favorite summer salad recipes, which are sure to take center stage at your next picnic or family dinner. And much like “Baby,” nobody will be putting your summer salad in the corner.
Top 5 Summer Salads
Spring Summer Salad
This is a super simple
spring, I mean, summer salad (say that three times fast) that has been paired with a maple Dijon vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is slightly sweet and tangy and pairs really well with the smoky bacon in the salad. You could even add some grilled chicken or grilled shrimp and really take this to the next level.
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsps Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsps maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp minced shallot
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh minced herbs (I used a mix of chives, tarragon, and dill)
For the salad:
- Romaine or bibb lettuce
- Grape tomatoes
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon cut into strips
- Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp (about 5 – 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Use slotted spoon and transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.
- In a jar or bowl, whisk or shake Dijon, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, shallot. Do a 5-finger pinch of both salt and pepper, and give it a good shake.
- Toss greens and tomatoes together. Add the bacon and toss with vinaigrette.
Not Your Mama’s Potato Salad
This is definitely not your mama’s potato salad. If you are looking for a fresh way to lighten up a traditional potato salad that can withstand the warmer weather at your next outdoor picnic, this is it, folks.
- 2 lbs small red potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into 1/4 thick slices
- 2 Tbsps salt
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and threaded on a skewer
- 1 1/2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
- 2 tsps Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot minced—about 2 Tbsps
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh chives
- Place potatoes, 6 cups cold water, and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium.
- Lower skewered garlic into simmering water and partially blanch, about 45 seconds. Immediately run garlic under cold tap water to stop the cooking; remove from skewer, and set aside.
- Continue to simmer potatoes until tender yet firm, about 5 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
- Arrange hot potatoes close together in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
- 5. Mince garlic. Wisk garlic, reserved potato cooking water, vinegar, mustard, oil, and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Drizzle dressing evenly over warm potatoes. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Toss shallots and herbs in a small bowl.
- Transfer potatoes to a large serving bowl; add shallot/herb mixture, and mix gently with hands or rubber spatula to combine.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Kale with Mustard and Apple
There are several variations of this summer salad — some are served chilled, while others like this one are served warm. Both are equally scrumptious, but I am partial to this recipe because the flavor of the mustard, vinegar, and apples blends so well with the kale when heated it almost feels as though it was massaged into the leaves.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (1 – 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2/3 cups water
- 2 medium sliced Granny Smith apples
- 2 Tbsps cider vinegar
- 4 tsps whole-grain mustard
- 2 tsps brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt, to taste
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add kale and cook, tossing with two large spoons, until bright green, about 1 minute.
- Add water, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
- Stir in apples; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl.
- Add the mixture to the kale, increase heat to high and boil, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes.
Shrimp Summer Salad with Curry Dressing
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
- 6 – 8 leaves Napa cabbage, chopped
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced
- 2 mangos, diced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1⁄3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fun fact: Turmeric is what gives curry its intense yellow shade. Also called curcuma, it’s a root that grows in India’s tropical regions. Coach Tim highlights the anti-aging properties of this ingredient in the following blog article: The Must-Have Supplements for People Over 40.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 1⁄2 Tbsp coconut
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tsps curry powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
- Sea salt (to taste)
- Whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing into a medium bowl.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
- Place the dressing in the refrigerator while prepping the rest of the salad.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the kale, cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, avocado, mango, green onion, and cilantro.
- Toss to mix well and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet with coconut oil over medium-high heat.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add shrimp to the skillet.
- Cook 1.5 – 2 minutes on each side or until the shrimp are opaque in the center.
- Top the salad with the shrimp, drizzle with the desired amount of dressing, and serve.
Cucumber Dill Salad
Fun fact: Cucumbers are 95% water, giving the humble veggie a place of honor alongside watermelon as one of the most thirst-quenching foods, making it the perfect veggie for a summer salad. Watermelon is not far behind cucumber with 91% water.
- 4 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped dill
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsps honey (to taste)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper (to taste)
- Combine Greek yogurt, dill, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a large bowl.
- Add cucumbers and red onion to the bowl, and fold everything together until well combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.