Summer Salad Inspiration

I wanted to share some of the salad success stories I’ve had this summer. Instead of posting exact recipes with step-by-step instructions and quantities, I’m posting the combinations that I found truly divine and plenty of photos to guide you and your cutting board to salad nirvana. Adjust the ingredients, add things you like omit things you don’t, or just be inspired when you’re in the kitchen from the pictures.

I’m from a family of devout salad eaters. My mother has mastered the art of salad. I am not quite on her level yet, but I’m carrying on the torch of salad-loving as best I can. Her level, by the way, is unattainable to mere mortals like us. Here’s a gorgeous salad she threw together for a casual family dinner that featured my new favorite salad combination: cherries, corn, basil, and cucumber. I’d never thought to combine these ingredients before I tried her salad and now I’m hooked. 

Salads: the most forgiving and easily customized of all meal options. I would love to hear some of your favorite salad combinations too – leave a comment and let me know what you’ve been eating this summer. Here are a few salad ideas that I think are just great:

Sauteed Tomato & Avocado Vertical Salad

Slightly cooking the tomatoes for this elegant vertical salad releases infinite flavor (aided by a bit of sugar and salt in the cooking process). This salad is perfect for a dinner party. Or, truth be told, you can enjoy it like I do: with the addition of bacon and a soft-fried egg for a brunch salad. I like using a variety of tomatoes to add color. 

You will need:
  • Avocado
  • 2-3 tomatoes, varying sizes and colors
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, and a dash of sugar
  • Kale
  • Baby spinach
  • Slice two to three tomatoes of varying sizes and colors horizontally. Saute on medium heat in a skillet with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar (the sugar opens the flavor of the tomatoes tremendously). Cook for three to five minutes, until tomatoes are just starting to brown. 
  • Toss a mix of baby kale and spinach in an herby vinaigrette. Spread salad greens on a plate. 
  • Layer cooked tomatoes and avocado on top of salad greens. Drizzle extra balsamic vinegar to finish, if desired. 

Grilled Steak & Zucchini Salad in a Romaine Boat

This recipe is a total show-stopper that I think is a perfect compromise meal. Husband wants steak, I want salad. I like steak; he likes ranch. We can even share cooking duties (i.e. I can put him to task on the grill while I pretend that it takes forever to slice lettuce in half). The salad is so easy, fresh, and filling. 

You will need:
  • Grilled steak
  • Grilled zucchini
  • Grilled onions (optional)
  • Sauteed mushrooms (optional)
  • Avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Romaine lettuce (1/2 head per serving)
  • Ranch dressing
  • Prepare romaine by cutting in half lengthwise. Arrange lettuce with the cut side facing up (a “boat” or “bowl” shape). Remove a few layers of the romaine in the middle to make room for the ingredients. 
  • Top romaine boat with grilled zucchini, grilled steak, cherry tomatoes, and slices of avocado (plus optional ingredients, if using). 
  • Drizzle ranch on top and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, if desired. 

Supreme Summer Salad

I didn’t know what to call this salad. I wanted to use literally every ingredient in the name. I think this flavor blend captures summer perfectly. It’s a light, fresh salad that is perfect served with white wine and a cheese board for a simple dinner on the deck. 

You will need:
  • Pineapple (use fresh, not canned)
  • Green bell pepper
  • Avocado
  • Chevre
  • Pistachios
  • Dried cranberries (I prefer low sugar)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Salad dressing of choice (a citrus vinaigrette is ideal)

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