My Favorite Summer Salads

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Ironically, fresh local lettuce is harder to come by in the heat of summer than in spring and fall—lettuce prefers cooler temperatures. Yet, there is no better food to fix on a hot night, when you don’t want to heat up the house with cooking. Here are two of my favorite summer salads that you can eat as a full meal. And they’re highly flexible, so you can adapt them to your own family’s taste.

Greek Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (or substitute your favorite lettuce)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Thinly sliced red onion, as many as you want
  • Good feta cheese, crumbled
  • Kalamata olives, as many as you want
  • 1 handful toasted pine nuts
  • Grilled chicken or fish (optional)

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 slice fresh garlic, chopped or minced
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 4–6 tablespoons olive oil

Clean, slice, and combine salad ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a fork, and give it the sniff test (if it smells too much of vinegar, then add more oil). Add to salad ingredients. Toss, and enjoy!

Chopped Summer Salad

Chop into cubes whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or garden: cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, celery, fennel, zucchini, herbs, corn, peas, and anything else that seems good. Chop up some herbs, such as basil, parsley, thyme and mint. Mix in a bowl.

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or any other kind)
  • 3–4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste (the secret to great-tasting dressing)

Stir the dressing ingredients together with a fork, give it the sniff test (see above) and toss into the salad.

Optional ingredients, to make it more of a full meal: chicken cubes, cheese cubes, pine nuts or toasted almonds, olives, or toasted bread cubes (croutons).

Yummiful! Even my kids will eat these salads.

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10 Responses to My Favorite Summer Salads

  1. summer salad August 19, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    We’ve been gorging on chopped summer salad for weeks! It’s also a great way to use up left over corn on the cob.

  2. Shelbi August 19, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    I love watermelon, arugula, feta, and toasted pine nuts with a light lemon and oil vinagrette. So clean and fresh!!!

  3. Chris August 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    I grew up having a big salad as a dinner entree at least once a week in the summer. Romaine lettuce is a good choice if you’re growing it on your own. It holds up better in the summer heat than most other types. Plant in the shade of other plants, trees, bushes, or use shade cloth if your summers are very hot and/or humid. Pick in the morning, put in a plastic bag with damp paper towels, and store in the fridge until dinner time to keep it crisp. If it still seems wilty, soak in ice water for about 20 minutes and it’ll perk up.

  4. DONNA FROM DELAWARE August 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    We just have a mixture of organically grown lettuce, red or green, butter lettuce and a lovely french dressing that I just brought home from Europe. Simple and delicious. I sometimes throw in some red and yellow grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half, some thinly sliced red onions and crumbled feta cheese. If we want meat, I thinly slice a piece of beef tenderloin and lay on top, very filling and delicious or I use a good wild caught canned tuna or sometimes Ventresca Tuna, expensive but buttery. Excellent! A quick, satisfying summer dinner. If we want a litle more crunch to this salad, I add romaine lettuce, organic or course.

  5. Debra August 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    Shelbi’s watermelon salad sounds great. I’m going to try it this weekend.
    When we have dinner guests in the summer, I usually pair a salad like these mentioned with this very simple pasta dish:

    In the a.m., combine: 3 to 5 diced tomatoes, keep the juice and seeds; a few cloves of garlic, minced; and 1/2-1 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped. Toss with 1/3 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (Play with the amounts of the above to your desired taste.) Let this mixture marinate all day. About 30 minutes before dinner, prepare about 1 pound of your favorite pasta. Add to tomato mixture and gently toss. Serve with shavings of parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. So simple. So tasty.

  6. holly August 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    thanks for the salad recipes, maria…they were very inspiring and absolutely necessary last week during the heat and humidity…kept the kitchen cool and were wonderfully refreshing!

  7. janet August 4, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    we have been eating a version of the chopped salad since the first few veggies started to ripen. mixed with the herbs is wonderful. never all the same veggies, but it’s filling and delicious. I will try some of the dressings suggested.

  8. Rope June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Ab fab my gooldy man.

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