When summer temperatures rise, you want to eat refreshing, filling meals that keep you cool. Enter the delicious, nutritious, satisfying meal-sized dinner salad.
With some pre-planning, a beautiful, healthy dinner salad can be yours. Any combination of fresh, in-season produce can be paired with lean proteins and healthy whole-grains to make a salad a meal — and it all starts with your trip to the grocery store. Choose a variety of bright, colorful vegetables and quick-cooking proteins that can be prepared on the grill or are ready to serve. Lastly, choose a variety of whole grains that cook quickly. Then mix it all together and you have a dinner option that will happily become the superstar of your summer dinner table.
Here are a few of our favorite, flavorful ideas:
HERBY SHRIMP THAI-RICE SALAD WITH PEANUT SAUCE
For the peanut sauce:
- 1 cup unsalted peanut butter, creamy or crunchy as you prefer
- 1–2 cloves of fresh garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- Zest and juice of 1 large lime
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2–4 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk (more for a thinner consistency)
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
- Water, to thin as needed
For the salad:
- 4 cups fresh, spicy greens
- 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
- 1/2 red pepper, sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup mixed cilantro, mint and basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts
- Lime wedges, to taste
- 1-pound peeled, deveined shrimp or boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled to preference
For the peanut sauce: In the bowl of a food processor or powerful blender, combine all ingredients except the cilantro. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavor to your preference. Add the cilantro, give it another few pulses and transfer to an airtight jar. Keep in the fridge for up to one week. Note: Recipe makes 8 ounces of dressing, or roughly 16 1-tablespoon servings.
For the salad: Divide the rice, greens and vegetables between 4 individual serving-sized bowls. Top with grilled chicken or shrimp and drizzle with 1–2 tablespoons of peanut sauce. Divide the peanuts and herbs among the bowls and serve. Recipe makes 4 servings at 1 1/2 cups each.
Nutrition (per serving without peanut sauce): Calories: 270; Total Fat: 3g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 221mg; Sodium: 330mg; Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 27g
HEIRLOOM TOMATO & PLUM SALAD WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA & GRILLED CHICKEN
- 2 pounds tomatoes (a mix of small heirlooms and cherry tomatoes), halved
- 1 pound ripe stone fruits (a mix of plums, apricots, pluots and/or nectarines), halved
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/3 cup chives, chopped
- 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella, halved
- A handful of torn, fresh basil leaves
- Zest of one lemon
- An extra drizzle of olive oil or lemon oil (for finishing)
- Flaked sea salt for finishing, (optional)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled to preference
Preheat the grill to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss half the tomatoes and stone fruits with the olive oil, maple syrup or brown sugar and salt. Arrange in a single layer on the grill. Allow the fruit to char a bit before flipping. Char the second side. Remove all of the tomatoes and stone fruits from the grill. Grill the chicken next, if this has not yet been done. Set aside to cool while you finish the other salad ingredients.
Halve the mozzarella, zest the lemon and chop the chives and basil leaves.
When ready to serve, gently toss the roasted fruits with the remaining raw fruits and a bit of olive oil, most of the almonds, chives and basil, as well as all of the capers and the mozzarella. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve in individual bowls. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon each of almonds, chives and basil. Recipe makes 4 servings, at 1 1/2 cups each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 438; Total Fat: 26g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Monounsaturated Fat: 11g; Cholesterol: 63mg; Sodium: 512mg; Carbohydrate: 29g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 21g; Protein: 30g
KALE SALAD WITH QUINOA, AVOCADO, PEACHES & EDAMAME
For the pepita vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup toasted, salted pepitas
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Coarse salt, to taste
For the salad
- 3 ripe peaches, halved
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 avocados, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches of lacinato kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1–1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces frozen edamame, thawed and drained
For the dressing: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the chopped shallot with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the shallot until translucent, remove the pot from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Add the shallot mixture and a pinch of coarse salt. Lastly, whisk in the remaining olive oil to emulsify the dressing and add a couple of pinches of black pepper (and more salt if you like.) Add the pepitas.
For the salad: In a large bowl, combine the kale, quinoa, red onion, avocados and edamame. Add the pepita dressing and toss to incorporate.
Preheat your grill to 350°F. Brush the halved peaches with olive oil and place them on the grill cut side down. Allow the peaches to char slightly before flipping to char the second side. Remove the peaches from the grill and allow to cool slightly.
Just before serving, chop the peaches and add to the salad with feta. Divide into individual bowls and enjoy! Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container, for up to one day. Recipe makes 6 servings at 1 1/2 cups each.
Nutrition (per serving without vinaigrette): Calories: 305; Total Fat: 20g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 22mg; Sodium: 261mg; Carbohydrate: 24g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 9g