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10 Delicious Summer Salads

Healthy recipes to lighten up your next summer soirée

Photo by Ashley Rowe

1. WILD RICE SALAD

This is a nutritious, delicious prepare-ahead dish that holds up well for travel to a campsite and tastes terrific right out of the cooler or at room temperature. It is a festive blend of textures and tastes.

3 (2.75-ounce) packages quick-cooking wild rice, cooked and cooled (I use Gourmet House.)
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
3/4 - 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook rice according to the package directions. Fluff and let cool.
2. Add pecans, cranberries, green onions, parsley, mint and feta cheese.
3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Whisk. Pour over rice mixture, and toss to coat.
4. Season with salt and pepper and chill until ready to serve. Serves 6 - 8. 

Photo by Ashley Rowe

 

2. ​EDAMAME AND SHRIMP SALAD IN A TOMATO SHELL

Beth Morrissette is a vibrant community activist and fabulous foodie. This adaptation of her recipe is especially pretty served in a hollowed out tomato or atop tomato slices.

1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 - 2 cups chopped cooked shrimp (Beth likes to sauté the shrimp in a little oil and garlic.)
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeños
4 large ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

1. Cook edamame according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain again.
2. Combine edamame, shrimp, cannellini beans, onion and jalapeño pepper. Refrigerate.
3. Meanwhile, using a serrated knife, cut the top 1/3 off each tomato.
4. Working over a colander set over a bowl, gently squeeze each tomato to remove as many seeds as possible. Then, scoop out the tomato flesh, being careful not to break the tomato shell.
5. Dice the removed tomato flesh. Add to the refrigerated edamame and shrimp mixture.
6. Combine cilantro and the remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over the edamame mixture, and toss gently to combine.
7. Cover mixture and tomato shells, and chill for several hours or overnight.
8. When ready to serve, sprinkle a little salt and pepper inside the tomato shells, then spoon the salad into each shell. Serve 4.

Photo by Elise Poché 

3. APRICOT GINGER CHICKEN SALAD

Ginger adds unexpected, exotic flavor to this sensational take on a Southern staple.

2 - 4 cups cooked chopped chicken (white meat only)
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup julienned carrots
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Apricot Ginger Dressing, see below
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced into ribbons
wonton chips or Chinese noodles, for garnish (optional)

1. Mix chicken, apricots, green onions, carrots and cilantro in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Toss the chicken mixture with Apricot Ginger Dressing and serve on top of romaine ribbons.
3. Garnish with wonton chips or crunchy Chinese noodles, if desired. Serves 4.

APRICOT GINGER DRESSING

1 (10-ounce) jar apricot preserves
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

Combine preserves, vinegar and ginger in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until melted. Let mixture cool. Makes approximately 1 cup.

Photo by Elise Poché 

4. BLACK BEAN, EDAMAME AND WHEATBERRY SALAD

This is a delectable, delightful salad brimming with healthful ingredients.

4 cups water
1/2 cup dry wheatberries
8 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup corn
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
lime juice, to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Combine water and wheatberries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 55 minutes, or until wheatberries are tender. Place in a fine mesh strainer. Run under cold water to cool quickly. Drain. 
3. Boil edamame according to instructions on the package. Let cool, and then pop beans out of the shells.
4. Combine wheatberries and edamame with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 8 hours in advance. Serves 6 to 8. 

5. CRAB, MANGO, CUCUMBER SALAD

Photo by Elise Poché

 

This bright and sassy salad offers a delightful array of textures and tastes. It is ideal for spring or summer entertaining.

1 pound of lump crabmeat
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
4 cups washed fresh mixed greens
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
White Balsamic Dressing, recipe below

1. Carefully combine crabmeat, mangos, cucumber and green onions in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Arrange mixed greens on a salad plate and top with the crabmeat mixture and the toasted almonds.
3. Drizzle the desired amount of White Balsamic Dressing over the top of the salad and serve. Serves 4.

WHITE BALSAMIC DRESSING

1 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and white pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until dressing emulsifies or has a creamy appearance. Makes approximately 2 cups. 

Photo by Elise Poché  

6. SHRIMP, AVOCADO, ROMA TOMATO SALAD

Perfect for cooks who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, this convenient dish doubles as a salad or as an appetizer served with chips.

1 pound of fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and diced
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
sea salt

1. Mix the shrimp, avocados, Roma tomatoes, red onion and cilantro in a medium mixing bowl.
2. Combine with fresh lime juice and season with the salt to taste.
3. Serve on a bed of greens or as an appetizer with baked wonton or tortilla chips. Serves 4. 

7. ROASTED VEGGIE PASTA SALAD

This cool, colorful, vegetarian side is a great make-ahead dish.

2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped bell peppers
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups chopped yellow squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces whole grain penne pasta
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with foil (for easy clean up).
2. Toss chopped onion, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and squash together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Transfer to baking sheets and roast for 20 minutes.
4. Stir in garlic, and roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until veggies are lightly golden. Let cool.
5. Meanwhile, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to a low boil. Cook until pasta is just barely cooked (approximately 8 minutes); do not overcook. Drain and set aside to cool.
6. Once cooled, toss together in a plastic or glass bowl with balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and remaining olive oil. Add more salt or vinegar if needed. Makes approximately 8 cups. Serves 8 - 10.  

8. AVOCADO CRABMEAT SALAD

This tasty summer salad is a glorious flavor combo: Gulf South meets south-of- the-border. It is healthy and heavenly! It is best served within a day after making because avocado can potentially turn an undesirable, darker color.

2 ripe avocadoes
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced green onions
1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (may substitute black pepper)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound crabmeat, preferably jumbo lump

1. Mash the avocadoes in a bowl, and stir in lemon juice.
2. Add in red bell pepper, green onions, garlic, salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir until well combined.
3. Gently fold in crabmeat so as to not break up the lumps. Serve in lettuce wraps or with crudités or whole grain crackers. Makes approximately 4 cups. Serves 8 - 10. 

Photo by Ashley Rowe

 

9. CHICKEN, ASPARAGUS, WALNUT AND PESTO PASTA SALAD

Here's a chic salad that holds up well in a cooler.

1 (20-ounce) package frozen three-cheese tortellini
1 (7-ounce) container prepared refrigerator pesto
4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 bundle fresh asparagus, trimmed, blanched and cut into approximately 1-inch segments
1 cup good quality grated Parmesan cheese or freshly grated, divided
1/2 - 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1. Prepare pasta according to package.
2. Drain, toss with pesto. Cool.
3. Add chicken, asparagus and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan.
4. Stir in walnuts, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Before serving, bring to room temperature (leave out 20 - 30 minutes) and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serves 8 - 10.

Photo by Dan Anderson 

10. MISS IPPY’S DIVINE CRAB SALAD

Miss Ippy Inge’s crab salad is an indulgent addition to a summertime party spread.

1 pound lump crabmeat
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1 small bunch of green onions, finely chopped
2 - 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup stuffed olives, finely chopped
2 - 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (Miss Ippy has always used Hellman’s.)

1. Spread crabmeat out on a platter. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Gently spoon the crabmeat into a bowl (being careful not to break up the prized large lumps) and add other ingredients.
3. Toss gently until well combined. Serves 4 - 6.

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