Eat Well: Summer Salads for Any Occasion

August 15, 2014

I have declared myself the queen of the summer salad. 

With all of the great produce in stores, farmer's markets and CSAs right now, it is easy to get caught up in all of the beautiful and delicious fruits and vegetables, buy them all, and then wonder what you are going to do with them once you get home! 

Why not make a nice, cooling summer salad? These are great to store in your fridge for a few days, take to barbecues and picnics and to share with your family. Here is my basic formula:

Start with a base
Start with a bean and/or a grain. I often use chickpeas, black beans, lentils, brown rice and quinoa. (Mix and match if you want, or choose one.)

Add some local veggies
This is where you can get creative or keep it simple. Add raw vegetables or, if it's cooler outside, you can sauté them first to add some warmth to the salad. My favorites: sweet corn, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, white and sweet potatoes (cooked), peas, beans, onion, green onion, beets, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. Don't be afraid to mix some leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach or cabbage in, too.

Spice it up
What are your favorite spices? I like to mix my lentils with cumin and cinnamon. A black bean and corn salad goes nicely with parsley and/or cilantro. Not sure what you like? Salt, pepper, oregano and parsley are always safe winners in my book.

Add some moisture
I mix olive oil and fresh lemon or lime juice into the salad to make it not too dry. It doesn't need a lot. Start with a tablespoon or two and keep adding more as needed.

Top with some crunch
Depending on what raw vegetables I use, I like to add some crunch. I usually pick raw pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or walnuts. You can use your favorites!

Something sweet?
If you want to sweeten it up, add some dried fruit! Raisins, currants, unsweetened cranberries and tart cherries are great choices!

Summer salads can be served over a big bowl of greens, wrapped in a big Romaine leaf or tortilla wraps, scooped with small pieces of toast or tortilla chips, or eaten with a spoon!

The more of these salads you make the easier it gets. Looking for some inspiration? Here are some great recipes I found online:

The Best Lentil Salad Ever
Black Bean and Corn Salad
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
Brown Rice Salad
Chickpea Salad
Napa Cabbage Salad

Do you have a recipe that you love?