A cool dinner treat for hot summer nights

Nutritious and tasty, salads can be served as seasonal entrees, side dishes and desserts

The hallmarks of summer — fresh fruits and vegetables — really shine in a salad. There’s no need to do anything fancy with them, because at the peak of their season they’re ripe for the tasting.

Stop at an area farmers market if you can and let the fruits and vegetables inspire you.

And in these dog days of August, a salad is an ideal dinner. There’s little cooking involved, the flavors really come through and they’re a cool treat to eat.

Remember that fresh, raw sweet corn can be cut off the cob and added to a salad for a  crunchy element.

Berries can also be sprinkled atop a salad for a burst of tart sweetness.

And if you’re getting tired of the same old bowl of dressing, try a new variety. Toss out that bottle from the supermarket and try making your own.

If making a vinaigrette, the ratio is typically three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice.

You can make a quick avocado dressing by combining half an avocado with a cup of vinaigrette in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.

Fruit juices such as pineapple, orange or mango can also be used as a salad dressing by adding a little vegetable oil and a dash of nutmeg and honey, if desired.

Don’t forget that a salad isn’t necessarily just a side dish. Add some form of protein, perhaps a bit of grilled steak or chicken, some toasted nuts or a can of beans, and you have a delicious entree.

To toast nuts, toss some pecans, walnuts, almonds or pine nuts into a skillet and stir over medium heat until they turn a shade darker and give off an enticing aroma.

If making a pasta salad, cook the pasta al dente. This allows the pasta to absorb some of the dressing without becoming mushy. Dry the drained pasta by pouring it into a large paper-towel lined pan and rolling it around a bit so the moisture is absorbed.

Hot pasta can be combined with vinaigrette, but should cool at least to room temperature before adding herbs and vegetables to keep them from wilting.

A fruit salad can also be served as a dessert. Place each serving in a stemmed glass for a treat that’s as beautiful to the eye as it is to eat.

No matter what type of salad your make, remember to chill the serving plates to keep it crisp longer.

Following are a few salad recipes from allrecipes.com.

 

Authentic Thai Steak Salad

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1-1/2-pound flank steak
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce such as Sriracha
2 heads romaine lettuce
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup fresh Thai basil leaves

    Sprinkle pepper and salt onto flank steak. Cook steak on the lightly oiled grate of medium-high grill for five to six minutes per side, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 140 degrees. Set meat aside to rest.
    Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chile-garlic sauce together in a bowl.
    Mix romaine lettuce, mint, cilantro, and basil together in a bowl. Spoon about six tablespoons lime juice mixture over romaine mixture. Toss to coat.
    Cut steak into strips, then place strips into remaining lime juice mixture and let sit for one to two minutes. Place steak on romaine mixture and serve.

 

Grilled Tuna Salad

20 ounces fresh tuna steaks, 1-inch thick
3 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups packed torn salad greens
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

    Place tuna in a glass dish. Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together wine, olive oil, red wine vinegar, rosemary, pepper, salt and garlic. Pour two tablespoons vinaigrette over fish and turn to coat. Marinate 15 to 30 minutes, turning once. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for salad dressing.
    Coat grill rack with cooking spray and place on medium grill to heat for one minute. Place tuna on grill, four to six inches above hot coals. Cover with lid or tent with foil. Cook, turning once, about seven minutes, just until tuna begins to flake easily when tested with a fork. Discard marinade.
    Arrange salad greens on  four plates. Place hot tuna on greens and add cherry tomatoes. Stir remaining vinaigrette and drizzle over salads.

 

Grilled Shrimp Louie

For dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons minced green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
For shrimp:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left intact
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
For salad:
1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved

    Place mayonnaise, ketchup, creme fraiche, one tablespoon lemon juice, cider vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, green onion and parsley in a bowl. Whisk together until ingredients are well combined. Cover and refrigerate two to three hours, until thoroughly chilled.
    Drizzle olive oil and juice from half a lemon over the shrimp just before grilling. Sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika. Gently but thoroughly toss until shrimp are coated.
    Grill on a lighly oiled grate over hot coals about two minutes per side, until shrimp are pink and flesh is opaque. Transfer to a dish and refrigerate about 30 minutes, until shrimp are chilled. You can remove shrimp tails or leave them on.
    Divide romaine lettuce among serving bowls. Arrange cherry tomatoes, avocado slices and egg halves on top. Season with salt and pepper. Top with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dressing, then add shrimp and sliced green onions. Drizzle additional dressing over the shrimp, if desired.

Chicken Berry Salad

1 .75-ounce packet honey mustard salad dressing mix
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
8 ounces sugar snap peas
1/2 cup toasted pecans

    In a medium bowl, prepare dressing according to package directions, using vinegar and oil and substituting orange juice for the water. Set aside.
    Lightly oil the grate of a grill heated to high. Grill chicken six to eight minutes per side, until juices run clear. Remove from heat, cool and slice into strips.
    In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, salad greens, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peas and pecans. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat.

 

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup medium-hot salsa
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 7-inch corn tortillas
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, optional
1 lime, cut into wedges, optional
1/4 cup sour cream, optional

    Mix black beans, salsa, 1/2 cup cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside.
    Stir chili powder, cumin, coriander, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and olive oil in a bowl until smooth. Rub mixture over chicken breasts.
    Cook chicken breasts on a medium-high grill for 10 to 12 minutes per side, until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees.
    Place tortillas on grill and grill three to five minutes, until light brown on both sides.
    Transfer chicken to a cutting board and slice into long thin strips. Divide chicken strips over tortillas and top with bean mixture, lettuce and remaining cilantro. Serve with avocado, lime wedges and sour cream.

BBQ Chicken Salad

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 8.75-ounce can sweet corn, drained
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise

    Lightly oil grate of a grill heated to high. Grill chicken 10 minutes on each side, until juices run clear. Remove from heat, cool and cube.
    In a large bowl, toss together chicken, celery, red bell pepper, onion and corn.
    In a small bowl, mix together barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Stir and chill until ready to serve.

 

Refreshing Watermelon Salad

3 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup sliced red onion, cut lengthwise
15 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups cubed English cucumber
1 8-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cracked black pepper
Sea salt

    In a small bowl, pour lime juice over red onions. Set aside.
    Gently combine watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese and cilantro in a large bowl. Season with black pepper.
    Toss with marinated onions and season with sea salt just before serving.

Layered Salmon Cobb Salad

For dressing:
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
Salt
Ground black pepper
For salad:
3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
1 pound salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
1 pound tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 15-ounce can corn, drained
2 cucumbers, halved and sliced
5 hard-boiled eggs, halved
4 slices cooked bacon, cut into thin strips
4 spring onions, thinly sliced

    Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and garlic in a jar. Seal and shake well. Stir in dill, salt and pepper. Refrigerate dressing.
    Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add green beans, cover, and steam four to five minutes, until tender. Drain and let cool.
    Brush salmon with vegetable oil and  season with salt and pepper. Grill on lightly oiled grate over medium-high heat for six to eight minutes per side, until flesh flakes easily with a fork.
    Layer lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, green beans and hard-boiled eggs in a large glass trifle bowl. Place salmon on top. Garnish with bacon and spring onions. Serve with dressing alongside.

Grilled Chicken, Peach and Arugula Salad

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 peaches, halved and pitted
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 cups baby arugula

    Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, Dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a bowl until dressing is well mixed.
    Brush 1 teaspoon oil onto cut-side of peaches. Place peaches, cut-side down, on lightly oiled grate of a medium-high grill and cook four minutes per side, until heated through. Transfer peaches to a plate.
    Brush remaining oil onto both sides of chicken breasts and season with salt. Cook chicken on grill about four minutes per side, until no longer pink in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees.
    Slice chicken into thin pieces and cut peaches into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
    Toss arugula and dressing together in a bowl. Divide dressed arugula among plates and top with peaches and chicken.

 

Caprese Salad With Grilled Flank Steak

2 tomatoes, diced
1 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound flank steak
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper
1 6.5-ounce bag butter lettuce mix
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
    Mix tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, 1 clove minced garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl. Toss to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate.
    Place steak in a large resealable bag, then add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal bag and distribute the oil mixture over the steak.
    Cook steak on lightly oiled grate on a medium-high grill about five minutes per side for medium. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140 degrees. Let meat stand for five minutes, then thinly slice across the grain.
    Divide lettuce among four serving plates, then drizzle about 1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar and 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil onto each lettuce portion. Top each salad with one quarter of the steak and one quarter of the tomato mixture.

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