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Summer Salads

Summertime Salads

Summer is the season for keeping things simple — and that definitely includes meals. Salads are the perfect answer when times call for a simple, light meal choice. You can store salads in the refrigerator until you need them, serve them cold, grab them when headed out for a picnic — and a salad requires little if any cooking, thus eliminating the need for a hot stove on an already warm day. There's no doubt about it — salads are summer-friendly fare.

Conjuring up a salad is also a fun way to express your creativity — you can change ingredients to fit the produce from your own garden or your favorite farmer's market. The array of fresh produce is at its peak in the summer, and prices are low for seasonal offerings. The trend of organic gardening and cooking — and saving with home-cooked meals — has produced an abundance of farmer's markets and neighborhood gardeners — so you shouldn't be at a loss when it comes to finding good salad ingredients nearby.

No other meal component is as versatile, either — with salads easily serving as either main dishes or side dishes, depending on your preference. Healthy, flavor-filled and colorful salads add interest to your table and menu. Since this is the season for harvesting fresh produce, we'll start you off with some vegetable salads that take full advantage of this — some main and some side dishes:

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Summer Vegetable Salad

The tomatoes in this salad provide half of your daily requirement of vitamin C! Tomatoes are also a good source of the anti-oxidant lycopene. Enjoy knowing you’re treating yourself right.

cherry tomatoesIngredients
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 package Simply Organic Mushroom Sauce Mix
1 cup diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
1 diced yellow bell pepper
1 diced squash or zucchini
1/3 cup diced green olives
1/2 cup cubed mozzarella cheese

Directions
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk water, vinegar and Simply Organic Mushroom Sauce Mix together. Heat mixture in microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside and dice all vegetables. Toss vegetables and cheese in sauce. Chill until ready serve.

Chef Suggestions
Add diced cooked chicken or tofu to create a great summertime meal.

MORE RECIPES:

Broccoli Slaw
Sauerkraut Salad

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With the addition of pasta, breads, or protein, you can turn your salad into a main dish:

Southwest Seafood Salad

Here’s a quick way to add the rich, smoked flavor of mesquite to shrimp for a delicious, unexpected seafood salad twist.

clementinesIngredients
2 tablespoons oil
8 ounces chopped seafood (shrimp, scallops, etc.)
1 package Simply Organic Mesquite Barbecue Marinade Mix
fresh mixed greens
shredded cheese
cooked black beans
salsa
sour cream

Directions
Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Add seafood and Mesquite Barbeque Marinade Mix, and sauté. Prepare fresh greens and place cooked seafood on top. Accent with black beans and shredded cheese.

Chef Suggestions
Add decorative dollops of sour cream and salsa.

MORE RECIPES

Panzanella a la Simply Organic (Italian Bread Salad)
Spicy Chicken Salad

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Your grilled ribs might be renowned, your chicken might be the best on the block, but a good side salad will garner raves for your all-around menu. The success of a side dish is determined by its ability to enhance the main dish, but it should be strong enough to stand on its own. Below are some side salads designed to bring out the most in your main dishes. They also serve as fun additions to a picnic or potluck.

Tomato-Onion Salad with Walnut Vinagigrette

Make your salad dressing ahead of time; enjoy this crunchy salad for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients
1/4 cup walnut oil
1-1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
walnuts1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, garlic, tarragon, salt, and pepper.
On individual plates or a serving platter, overlap the tomato and onion slices in an alternating pattern until all the slices have been used. Drizzle with the tarragon-garlic dressing mixture. Top with the walnuts.

Chef Suggestions
Make the dressing ahead; it stores well in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

MORE RECIPES:

Southwest Salad
Curried Asian Salad
Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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Let us not forget the venerable lettuce salad. Shop for your favorite kinds of lettuce, then be creative with additions — cheese and nuts can add flavor to both the lettuce and any other vegetables you might add. Lettuce options include Romaine, leaf, endive, radicchio, Swiss chard, spinach, and arugula. Top your mix with your favorite dressing (see below), oil and vinegar, or a squeeze of lemon juice.

Almost everyone has a favorite salad dressing. You might have a new one after you try this fresh twist:

Simply Organic Greek Dressing
Our herb-infused spaghetti sauce mix transforms itself into a versatile salad dressing option!

Greek dressingIngredients
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1 package Simply Organic Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Mix

Directions
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients in the order above. Chill until ready to serve.

Chef Suggestions
Serve over fresh mixed greens topped with feta cheese. Makes 6 servings.

We’ve got you covered dressing-wise when it comes to simplicity. Check out our dressing mixes, and all the different ways to use them. Flavors range from an assortment of vinaigrettes to classic Caesar.

The Art of Salad Serving

Lately, the word "plate" is gaining favor as a verb, and some hostesses are currently "plating" salads. Rather than having guests serve themselves from a bowl, you can "plate" individual salads. This gives you more control and adds a formal note if desired. This method works for any salad — either on a plate, or in a fruit slice (melon, peach, or pear), on a lettuce leaf, etc. Be creative — think taco salad served in a tortilla or salads served on muffin halves, bread slices, or hollowed out tomatoes or peppers.

And don't forget to garnish. The simplest garnish can be the special finishing flourish on a salad. Sprinkle salads with a dash of chopped parsley, chives or other fresh herbs, add colorful chopped red onions, diced peppers, toasted chopped nuts, sliced olives or mushrooms — and let the classic paprika add a crowning touch.

Go back to Cooking Articles & Tips.

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