Salad Season
June 24, 2021 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking of making more salads this summer. What are your favorite recipes for salads or dressings?

I am especially interested in broccoli salad, chopped salads, layered salads and entree salads, but I am open to others.

I already have recipes for Greek salad and panzanella (Italian bread salad) that I am happy with.

No eggs or mushrooms, please. And we aren't wild about peas. I will probably buy only ingredients available at standard U.S. grocery stores.
posted by NotLost to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 101 users marked this as a favorite
I was briefly obsessed with this fattoush salad earlier this year. The result feels like more effort than it actually takes, and it's very, very good. I use pita you can get at any chain grocery, and I've also never had an issue finding sumac in the spice aisle of the same chain grocery, though YMMV depending on where you live.

I've also pre-mixed the dressing and used it on simple green salads, or to dress cucumbers and carrots.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Check out Georgeanne Brennan’s cookbook Salad Every Day. I absolutely love it and it has a different recipe for every day of the year, focusing on seasonal ingredients.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

As an aside, taz successfully identified the adulterant in the best dang salad dressing I've ever had (but the restaurant owner wouldn't tell me) as za'atar. Bog standard (Kraft brand) full-fat zesty Italian dressing, with za'atar and a little extra sumac. Let meld at least overnight in the fridge. I've had some in the fridge for a couple of weeks, no problems.

It's versatile - good for marinating chicken kabobs and roasting vegetables on the grill too. Maybe not all for the same meal though.

Especially in the heat, I like Chinese-style cold cucumber salad. I use a variation of this (link chosen to show technique more than the recipe).

My English cucumbers are more translucent and crunchier than in the link. I'll also take strips off of the cuke with a peeler, so it alternates peeled, not peeled, peeled, etc. I also replace chili (flakes in oil) with sesame and add fried minced garlic (cold pan, cold oil, minced garlic, turn on stove, stir constantly - and you'll get fried, not burnt, garlic).

Importantly I toss the smashed cuke slices in a bit of salt, then weigh down in a colander over a bowl/ lipped dish and let sit in the fridge for 30 min to an hour (longer is fine), then squeeze and blot them dry with paper towels before mixing with sauce. A little oyster (or abalone) sauce is also nice. I use a fancier vinegar than Chinkiang, but Chinkiang is fine.

If you're adventurous, look into jellyfish salad. Crunchy.
posted by porpoise at 9:43 PM on June 24, 2021 [9 favorites]

Another summer favourite - mini tofu puffs (deep fried tofu) are ~1x1x2 cm. I cut them in half into cubes, then fry in a little high smoke point oil and add garlic powder, fine white pepper, and finely grated parmesan while stirring constantly until they're delicate lace-y crispy croutons. Set aside.

Half alternate-peel a cucumber lengthwise. Cube. Slice a tomato, blot dry, cube blotted slices. Combine cuke and tomato, toss in a nice virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Top with tofu croutons. When I can, I'll definitely splurge on good ripe tomatoes.
posted by porpoise at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

My best friend does this broccoli thing, it’s dead simple and it’s his go to side for picnics or any time he just feels like he should eat more vegetables.

Tear the broccoli into bigger than bite sized florets, drop into salted boiling water briefly until bright green and then into an ice bath. Then peel and slice way too many cloves of garlic. Like, at least ten? Pour a layer of olive oil into a pan and add garlic while it’s still cold. Turn it up to medium heat and let the garlic slowly flavor the oil completely. Meanwhile, sprinkle in a portion of red pepper flakes. When the garlic is just starting to get a little color, take it off the heat. Drain the cooled broccoli well, and pat it dry. Place it in a vessel with a lid and pour the warm garlic and oil all over, toss to coat. Taste for salt, close the lid and stick it in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or the next couple of days.

If you want to do a Korean-esque version, sub a neutral oil plus a glug of toasted sesame oil for the olive oil, and use gochugaru in place of European pepper flakes.

Your whole house will be perfumed with garlic. Your body will too after you eat it. But it’s excellent and has like, four ingredients.
posted by Mizu at 10:35 PM on June 24, 2021 [13 favorites]

This is delicious as is, but I've found many ways to change things up as well (add beans or dried fruit, change the nuts, more vegetables, etc).

Addictive brussels sprouts salad

posted by maya at 10:51 PM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Put a roughly chopped 1/2 head of purple cabbage, a roughly chopped raw beet, some carrots and a red bell pepper in the food processor.
In a few seconds you'll have this intensely colored gorgeous slaw.
Dressing choices:
1. Yogurt, white balsamic vinegar, salt, dijon, garlic, dill.
2. Sesame oil, orange juice, dijon, white balsamic.
To make it more a meal: this is great with feta and pistachios on top.
posted by nantucket at 11:46 PM on June 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

This is a tasty filling salad dish I used to make all the time. I think I abandoned it when I went low-carb, and just ran across the recipe the other day and remembered how much I liked it.

For the couscous, I used to get the garlic & olive oil flavor but it's fine to use plain. I'm pretty sure that two boxes of the Near East brand is 3 cups prepared.

Couscous Salad w/Chickpeas

3 cup cooked couscous
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup diced cucumber
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (you could sub parsley if you don't like cilantro, or just leave it out)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

Prepare couscous according to package directions, omitting oil/butter. Let cool. Mix vegetables, garbanzo beans, cilantro and cooled couscous in a large bowl. Whisk together lime juice and olive oil. Pour over couscous mixture and mix well. Chill for at least 2 hours.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:04 AM on June 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Nancy Silverton's Summer Squash Salad is wonderful - yellow squash and fennel and parmesan and a wonderful dressing. I can't find it online, but it is in her Mozza at Home cookbook.

During the summer, I love a watermelon salad that defies expectations. This Spicy Watermelon Salad is great, as is this Watermelon and Feta Salad.

In Spain, folks enjoy this "Russian" Salad - Ensaladilla Rusa (potatoes and tuna and peas) - great with crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine.

Finally, summer is the perfect time for a Corn Salad - like this Esquites/Mexican Street Corn Salad.

posted by tmharris65 at 3:25 AM on June 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Do you eat fish? I tried this cauliflower salad the other day, and it was delicious. And so fragrant that the dog jumped up on to the kitchen table and stole the leftovers I was looking forward to having the next day. He normally doesn't steal vegs. I think it would work very well with raw cauliflower too.
Today I am making my favorite cauliflower salad: separate a head of cauliflower into small florets, save the stem for something else. Chop a couple of shallots or some other sweet onion, very finely, and a clove of garlic, if you like raw garlic. Mix the alliums in a bowl with equal parts mayonnaise and creme fraiche/Greek yoghurt. Season the dressing with salt, white pepper and Dijon mustard to taste, add in the cauliflower florets, and let rest for at least an hour, but not more than three hours. Before serving, give it a good stir and decorate the salad with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped chives.
Cauliflower is what is looking good at the market here right now, but other good things that are available are radishes, new potatoes, lettuces and summer cabbages. The other day I made a salade Nicoise. There are so many different ways of doing a Nicoise, here's a link to the Guardian "how to make the perfect"- article, which has several suggestions. I combined a really dark green and tasty lettuce I had with new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, slices of cucumber, butter beans, eggs, anchovies and slices of radish which I had pre-salted and rinsed because they were a bit stringy and bitter. The pre-salt worked like magic, I will do that forever now. Dressing was just a classic vinaigrette with Dijon mustard.
The summer cabbage is good with the radishes too, either in a slaw or just lightly brought together as more of a composed salad, perhaps with some home-made croutons.
Very soon there will be haricots verts. I love a classic French dish of steamed haricots verts dressed with a garlicky vinaigrette, maybe served over lentils from Puy (or any other lentil with a bit of a bite).
Apart from the cauliflower salad, I'll be making tabouleh today. This recipe feels very authentic to me. Not that I care much about authenticity, but one wants a salad where the herbs are at the front and center, not the grains or the vegetables.
So I'll have a meal with two salads, a serving of hummus and a piece of bread, and it will be good food. The leftovers will work well in other seasonal combinations, with a lamb chop, or a steamed mackerel.
For broccoli, this is a good recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Among potato salads, this is my new favorite: Korean potato salad, I have tried it several times as in the recipe, with starchy potatoes, and it is great, but it is also good with new potatoes. Then you need to pre-salt, clean and dry the cucumber cubes, or the moisture from them will create a puddle in the bottom of you bowl.
posted by mumimor at 3:38 AM on June 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

I forgot to link to the salade Nicoise article
posted by mumimor at 3:46 AM on June 25, 2021

Herewith, my obligatory recommendation for the Moosewood Daily Special cookbook - the thing I have recommended BY FAR more than any other thing in AskMe's, to the point that I should probably seriously consider requesting some kind of fee from the Moosewood team. It is nothing but soups, salads, and salad dressings. The "daily special" part of the name comes from the Moosewood Restaurant itself - they typically have a couple of soups-of-the-day and a couple salads-of-the-day, and their lunch special is a combo plate of your choice of one of each.

I use it a lot, as bag-lunch fodder during the summer and fall - it helps me stay on top of the CSA haul. My big go-to's are usually different pasta salad or grain salad variants - they have a pasta salad which has nothing more than pasta, green beans, and roasted red peppers, with a little chopped hazelnut. Another one I've had uses bulgur, walnuts, and grapes.

But the biggest reason I actually recommend it is that after I was cooking from it for a year, and slavishly following all the recipes, I suddenly had an epiphany - all the recipes were basically the same, it was just the ingredients that were different. If I wanted to add another ingredient to that pasta salad, I could, and it would be just fine. And I started going more free-form with salads - open the fridge, see what's there, chop things up, throw them into a big bowl of cooked pasta, slug some some mayo or some oil and vinegar and chopped herbs on top, mix everything up, and there you are.

So - I would suggest that cookbook to introduce yourself to new ideas a little, but then I would also recommend gradually going free-form. See what's good at the supermarket when you go and just get that, and punt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 AM on June 25, 2021

Roast whatever vegetables you like with olive oil (I tend to use onions, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, aubergine).

Put roasted vegetables on top of couscous, sprinkle on as much feta cheese as you want, top with salad leaves of your choice and then drizzle over dressing made of harissa, olive oil, cumin and lime juice. You can also add a sprinkle of nigella seeds.
posted by knapah at 4:29 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

We make the salad part of this at least once a week in the summer. We only made the bacon wrapped chicken part once, but it was too fussy so since then we've done it plain, with grilled chicken, or with steak depending what we're in the mood for and have around. We usually just use romaine hearts and sometimes skip the eggs or toss cherry tomatoes in; it's really forgiving and delicious.
posted by true at 4:44 AM on June 25, 2021

For an entree salad: any recipe for pan-seared fish served with salad, but with the fish and pan sauce placed on top of the greens directly after cooking, to wilt the greens and create its own sauce. Some recipes say to do this; you can also just adapt a recipe that has the salad on the side or on top. Just use greens that can stand up to some heat.
posted by BibiRose at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2021

Getting lots of good ideas from the answers above.

One of my favorites is this shaved fennel and crushed olive salad from Smitten Kitchen. I'm sure it's great if you properly shave the fennel on a mandolin or whatever, but I always just slice it as finely as my mediocre knife, haphazard knife skills, and limited patience allow. It has never not been my favorite thing I ate that week.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:32 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm really into this salad lately: arugula with lemon + olive oil dressing (I think pepper is in the recipe, but I'm not a fan so I omit it) with pink grapefruit and avocado.
posted by slidell at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

we have been eating this cranberry chicken salad with parm dressing lately. I have been using greek yogurt and spicy brown mustard because thats what we usually have and it is great.
posted by domino at 6:32 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I came to mention Salad Nicoise, but was prepared to transcribe my ancient recipe, THE VERY VERY BEST SALAD NICOISE EVER SURELY (possibly not the official name, but what I call it) which is scrawled very messily on two sheets of paper, or possibly papyrus, so old, so yellowed (it actually has brown edges!), so stained, folded, faded, and cracked that it threatens to entirely disintegrate with every use ... and I thought, well, this will be a good chance to finally get it written out then onto my Paprika Recipe app.

I've searched for this online before, and for some reason have not found it (probably because my rapid shorthand getting it down didn't allow for exact search terms), and I have never remembered the occasion of me scribbling it out, pre-computer age. If it had been in a magazine or newspaper, I would have just clipped it, so I must have written it down while watching on TV ... but TV was not my favored venue for new recipes pre-internet. I had tons of cookbooks and magazines that I loved to pore over, so this must have been something unusual. And, indeed, taadaaaah, I finally found it just now ... and it's Julia Freakin' Child's Salad Nicoise recipe. Which I must have viewed on TV and desperately scrambled to capture (but entirely failed to note was Julia Freakin' Child's recipe? Maybe it was someone else making her recipe, I dunno.)

Anyway, that's all in aid of emphasizing just how much I love and adore this particular Salad Nicoise composition, and you should check it out: Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise.
posted by taz at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Because of a recipe linked above, I was reminded of this fennel and orange salad.
I like it as a starter, or a light lunch with a piece of bread. It's also good as part of a larger Sicilian inspired antipasto, with dishes like caponata, marinated squid, a tomato dish etc.
posted by mumimor at 6:49 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I absolutely cannot stop eating this salad: Black Bean and Corn Salad with Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette.
posted by DrGail at 7:09 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was not a fan of quinoa until I tried this southwestern quinoa salad. It's absolutely delicious. Adding the avocado right before serving is essential.

I know you have a Greek salad you like, and this Greek tortellini salad has a lot of the same ingredients/flavors, but is more filling and entree-ish because of the tortellini. It and the quinoa recipe above are popular favorites in my house.
posted by zorseshoes at 7:24 AM on June 25, 2021

My summer salad:
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Halved cherry tomatoes (cubed big tomatoes are OK)
  • A little crumbled feta cheese
  • Optional: a handful of cooked brown rice or pasta (orzo is nice)
  • ( I put in chopped boiled egg, but it’s OK to leave it out)
  • Newman’s Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mix it all up in a bowl. If you can leave it to marinate together overnight, so much the better. Proportions are to taste, but the chickpeas are the main ingredient.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:55 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you don't have one, consider buying an immersion blender to make dressings. If you throw some vinegar, a garlic clove, and maybe 1/2 tsp of mustard powder in a jar, blend that until the garlic clove is integrated, and then add some olive oil until you reach your desired thickness/tartness, you'll have a vinaigrette that you can then stash in the fridge without separating. You can also very quickly put homemade mayonnaise together (much better than Hellman's, in my opinion) and then make creamy dressings.

Immersion blender is better here than a standard blender because you can work with much smaller quantities. You can also prep a dressing right in, say, a mason jar which can then go right in the fridge if you're not using it right away which cuts down on cleanup.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:59 AM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

One more: this is a perfect side for roast chicken, if you eat that. Otherwise it will go well with any sort of savory pie, or fish. It can also be served after the main, before a cheese platter.
You need a head of very good lettuce, preferably soil-grown. And fruit and or berries. My favorite is a mix of raspberries and blueberries, mostly because it is delicious, but you also get a very good nutrient profile that way. Other options are peaches, strawberries, apples, blackberries, pears, well basically anything, these are just my preferences. Clean all the produce thoroughly and dry it. rip the lettuce leaves into agreeable pieces, except for four to six that you use as the decorative base for your salad. Arrange it all on a nice big platter or in a salad bowl. Make a dressing out of whole cream, lemon juice, salt, white pepper and a bit of mustard, whipped together. The cream thickens because of the lemon, just so you know. Taste this using pieces of the lettuce till you reach the balance between cream, salt and acid you like.
Sprinkle the dressing over your salad, and kaboom! So simple, yet so pretty and delicious. You can include cucumber or peas for more green stuff, but you mentioned that you aren't a friend of peas.
posted by mumimor at 8:59 AM on June 25, 2021

I love a salad with arugula, flaked smoked salmon, baby tomatoes, and cooked farro. Whole farro has a pleasantly chewy texture that adds interest to the base of salad greens, and the nutty flavor goes well with the peppery arugula and smoked salmon. I cook a big batch of farro ahead of time, because the whole grain version takes awhile to cook. Just store in an airtight container in the fridge and scoop some out for lunches all week. "Pearled" farro is also available and is probably more common in regular American grocery stores. It cooks more quickly but isn't quite as nutritious. Wheat berries are another good sub. I'm sure marinated tofu, small shrimp, grilled chicken breast or even a seared tuna steak would be great in place of the salmon, although the smokiness of the salmon goes really well with the arugula.

I just use lemon juice and olive oil to season but it would go well with any simple vinaigrette. This would be super delicious with fresh summer tomatoes!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette (BudgetByte$) is our usual vegetable salad dressing nowadays, except I double the amount of tomato paste. Make it in a food processor.
posted by kingless at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2021

Curried chicken salad with apples and raisins

Alternatively, chicken, walnuts, and grapes.

Or fiddle the two different ones to one's taste.

I already have recipes for Greek salad and panzanella

Please advise.
posted by BWA at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2021

Emily Nunn's newsletter, The Department of Salad, is so good that I'm about to become a paying subscriber.
posted by cyndigo at 10:39 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Canned tuna (in olive oil), avocado cubed, crunchy lettuce, sliced shallot, lime juice, salt.
posted by 10ch at 10:41 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ooh, I'm gonna have to try farro in my summer salad.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:38 AM on June 25, 2021

I love a salad of grapefruit sections and sliced avocado, which doesn't need dressing, but you can add it to arugula with a small amount of olive oil, cider vinegar, a little bit of brown sugar and toasted sesame oil, a vaguely Asian vinaigrette.

I used to love the salad at Magic Pan, which was spinach, sliced, toasted almonds, sliced hard boiled eggs, mandarin oranges, with a dressing of olive oil, lemon, honey. This is my typical Passover Seder contribution. For non-Passover, croutons are nice.

Salads usually benefit from salt & pepper.
posted by theora55 at 12:41 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thinly sliced celery makes a great salad. You can really take it any direction. I like it with walnuts, Parmesan, vinaigrette. A nice option when you’re out of lettuce.
posted by bluebird at 1:50 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

my daily salads are:

handful of kale or spinach
1 protein (usually chicken or tuna)
1/2 mushy avocado (moistens it up instead of dressing)
+ something (raw broccoli, cauliflower, peppers)

I chop it all up very finely and put Cholula on it!
posted by mrmarley at 2:52 PM on June 25, 2021

Fresh corn cut off the cob mixed with pico de gallo or fresh salsa. Done. That's it.
posted by mightshould at 3:29 PM on June 25, 2021

Response by poster: Here are my contributions.

Greek salad recipe

Panzanella (Italian bread salad)
Makes two meal servings, or more side servings.

about 3 cups cubed sourdough bread (about 2-inch cubes), left out overnight
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
1 small red onion, finely minced
6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ cup shredded basil leaves
2 tbsp. capers
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.
posted by NotLost at 11:07 PM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: So many good things to try! Thank you, all.
posted by NotLost at 11:16 PM on June 25, 2021

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