Summer salads are quick, easy, and don’t heat up the kitchen. They may contain dozens of ingredients, or just three — a simple caprese salad with tomato, basil, mozzarella, and a light drizzling of balsamic & olive oil is still one of our favorite summertime appetizers.
You can make your summer salads spicy, sweet, peppery, savory, or sour — all without adding an ounce of dressing—by adding the following greens with (or in place of) lettuce. And if you’re a gardener or fortunate enough to have a Tower Garden, you can easily grow them yourself!
- Arugula: Famous for a delightfully nutty, peppery punch, arugula is a popular staple in grocery store mixed greens bags.
- Asian greens: Common in stir-fry dishes, Asian greens such as bok choy, tatsoi, and mizuna are slightly spicy. For summer salads, younger leaves are typically best, as they’re milder in flavor.
- Dandelion: Once you taste the earthy, slightly bitter leaves of dandelion, you’ll wonder who decided the plant was a weed.
- Herbs: Technically not greens, fresh herbs make fantastic summer salad toppers, from the floral notes of lavender to the refreshing nip of mint to the savory addition of basil.
- Frisée: Also known as chicory and curly endive, frisée is a peppery, highly textured green.
- Kale: This fast-growing, faintly bitter green is rich in fiber and loaded with vitamins.
- Mâche: Sometimes called “the mayonnaise of greens,” mâche (or lamb’s lettuce) adds a sweet, note to your summer salads.
- Mustard: Fans of the spicy condiment of the same name (made from the plant’s seeds) will not be disappointed by the taste of the leaves. They will introduce a similar pungency to your salads.
- Sorrel: High levels of oxalic acid give sorrel a unique tangy flavor, comparable to a sour green apple. A handful of these tasty greens will add wonderful zest to your salad.
- Spinach: Tricky to grow, spinach is nevertheless the most popular salad green next to lettuce, due to its simple, pleasant taste and dense concentration of nutrients.
- Swiss chard: Try using young leaves of this very mild green to balance out the bolder flavors of sorrel or mustard.
- Watercress: While this is a bitter green, it’s one the most healthful superfoods you can grow. Even small portions will significantly increase the nutritional value of your salads.
Avocado gives this dish its creamy texture and heartiness. You’ll be full and satisfied after this meal!
- 8-10 kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1 orange pepper, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 avocado
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Hemp seed, to taste
- Sunflower sprouts, to taste
- Massage all ingredients together.
- Let chill for a few hours in the refrigerator.
- Top with hemp seed and sunflower sprouts.
Can you feel the power? This slightly sweet salad is packed with superfoods.
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Coarsely ground pepper
- 8 cups kale, Swiss chard, Bibb and red leaf lettuce
- 3 cups strawberries, halved
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a closed jar, and shake to combine.
- Toss the greens with vinaigrette.
- Top with strawberries berries and feta cheese.
Quinoa Herb Salad
As one of very few plant-based complete proteins, quinoa has a lot to offer in the way of nutrition.
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup basil-infused grape seed oil
- 1 tbsp light balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 oz low sodium black olives, drained
- 1 large Swiss chard leaf
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced
- 2 cups chives, chopped
- 1 cup basil, chopped
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels
- Add the rinsed quinoa, cumin, and two cups of water in a saucepan.
- Heat on a stove burner at medium heat until the water bubbles.
- Reduce to a simmer, and cook about 20 minutes.
- Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and transfer it to a large bowl or baking dish to cool.
- Roll the Swiss chard, ribbon-cut the leaf, and slice the stalk.
- Place the Swiss chard in a large mixing bowl and add beans, olives, jalapeño, chives, corn, and basil.
- Mash up the avocado in a medium bowl, and mix it with the remaining dressing ingredients.
- Toss the quinoa with the veggie mixture, add the dressing, and thoroughly mix.
- Let stand at least an hour before serving.