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Lettuce enjoy 3 summer salad recipes that go beyond the greens

Green green salad with green goddess dressing. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Green green salad with green goddess dressing. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

What defines a salad?

According to Merriam Webster, a salad is “any of various usually cold dishes: such as raw greens (such as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing.”

That strikes me as an awfully limited definition.

A salad can be any combination of foods — vegetables, poultry, fish, meat, grains, pasta — combined or composed and topped with some sort of dressing or vinaigrette.

The goal with these three recipes is to open up your view of what a salad can be beyond a side dish or an afterthought. And a salad need not be all about just plain lettuce, as these three recipes prove.

Grilled salmon and radicchio salad with grilled lemon and olive topping

The first salad is for grilled radicchio (a bitter, gorgeous, maroon and white type of chicory) that is grilled (which mellows the bitterness) and topped with thick slices of grilled salmon, chopped olives, and a dressing made up of grilled lemon, olive oil and herbs.

Serves 2 to 3.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound salmon filet
  • 1 medium sized head radicchio, cut in half
  • 3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large or 2 small lemon(s), cut in half
  • ¾ cup pitted green and/or black olives, coarsely chopped*


*To pit olives, place a large knife down in the center of the olive and use some force to press down. The olive should split in half; remove the pit and then chop.

Instructions 

  1. Place a baking tray or vegetable rack on a charcoal or gas grill and heat until hot, about 400 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle the salmon, radicchio, and lemon with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the dill and half the parsley on the salmon flesh. Place all three ingredients on the hot grill rack, placing the salmon skin side down, the radicchio inside leaves down, and the lemon flesh side down. Grill the salmon for 12 minutes. After the salmon has grilled for 5 minutes, flip the filet over, flesh-side down, and grill about 2 minutes, then flip back over so the flesh side is up again. Grill the radicchio for 12 minutes, flipping it over 2 to 3 times. Grill the lemon for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping it over once over twice until nicely browned.
  3. Remove the fish, radicchio, and lemon and let cool slightly.
  4. Core and thinly slice the radicchio. Arrange the radicchio slices on a serving plate or platter. When the salmon is almost cool, cut into ½-inch thick slices and arrange on top of the radicchio. Squeeze the grilled lemon halves on top and arrange the olives and remaining parsley and dill on top. Season with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Mango, avocado, and chicken salad with salted peanuts with ginger-lime-mint dressing

The bright colors and fresh tropical flavors of this salad are ideal for a hot summer afternoon or evening. Cubes of fresh mango are tossed with cucumber, avocado, lime, cilantro and salty, crunchy peanuts. Grilled (or leftover) chicken cubes are delicious tossed with the salad, as well. The dressing is flavored with fresh ginger, cilantro, mint, olive oil, lime juice and vinegar. The salad is topped with crunchy salted peanuts for added texture.

You can easily omit the chicken and substitute another vegetable, such as grilled onions or scallions or very thinly sliced red cabbage, or cooked shrimp. Serve with a warm baguette or rolls.

The Ginger-lime-mint dressing is delicious on any salad, but pairs well with seafood, grilled vegetables or cold noodles.

Serves 3 to 4.

Ingredients 

The salad:

  • 2 mangoes, cubed, about 2 cups
  • 1 ripe (but not mushy) avocado, cubed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • About 2 ½ tablespoons lime juice, from one large lime
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed, optional
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ⅓ cup salted peanut, coarsely chopped or left whole


The ginger-lime-mint dressing

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice, from 1 medium lime
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Instructions

  1. Make the salad: Place the mango upright on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut down one side of the mango, working close to the pit. Repeat on the other side of the pit. Take one of the pieces you cut from the side and cut a large tic-tac-toe-like pattern in the flesh. Working from the skin side, push the mango squares out of the skin. Repeat with the other half. You can cut off any remaining fruit from the sides of the pit.
  2. Place the mango cubes and any juices that were released when you cut it into a medium bowl. Gently toss with the avocado, cucumber, lime zest and juice, ginger, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the salad in the center of a medium serving plate. Arrange the chicken along the outside of the salad and sprinkle with the cilantro.
  3. To make the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients and taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as needed. Spoon the dressing over the chicken and the mango salad and sprinkle the top with the peanuts. Serve cold or room temperature.

Green green salad with green goddess dressing

I wanted to create a simple summer salad that only used green ingredients. Crunchy green lettuce, check. Fresh early summer peas, check. Lightly sauteed zucchini, check. Pale green celery, fresh mint, and chives, check. And then to dress it all: an herby green goddess dressing. This is the salad for a very hot summer day when you don’t want to create any extra heat in your kitchen. Saute the zucchini in the morning and you can put the salad together in no time at all. Fresh herbs will make all the difference in this salad.

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients

 

  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into thin slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head crunchy lettuce, like romaine, leaves left whole or chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, minced
  • ½ cup fresh peas, if frozen thaw and dry
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small stalks celery, thinly sliced


The green goddess dressing

  • ½ ripe, but not mushy avocado
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, curly or Italian-style
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of about 1 to 2 large lemons, about ¼ cup
  • About ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Instructions

  1. Cook the zucchini: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini in one layer, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Gently flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside (you can do this step several hours ahead of time).
  2. Make the dressing: Place the avocado, parsley, basil, and yogurt in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until almost smooth. Add half the lemon juice and all the oil, salt and pepper and blend. Taste for seasoning. If you want a very thick, chunky dressing you are all set. If you want a thinner, more pourable dressing add a bit more oil (another 1 to 3 tablespoons) and the full ¼ cup lemon juice and season to taste. The dressing can be stored in a glass jar and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  3. To arrange the salad: On a large platter or salad bowl, arrange half the lettuce. Sprinkle half the mint, chives, peas, cucumber slices, zucchini slices and celery on top. Place the remaining half of the lettuce on top and sprinkle with the remaining herbs, peas, cucumber slices, zucchini slices and celery. Serve the dressing on the side or spoon on top and toss at the table. Serve cold.


Other favorite summer salads:

  • Click here for how to make grilled steak salad with blue cheese, tomatoes and greens; grilled chicken nicoise; Vietnamese-flavored grilled pork lettuce wraps with grated vegetables and peanuts.
  • Click here for how to make my favorite salad combinations: Mediterranean-style orzo salad with corn, Middle eastern chopped salad with za’atar pita chips, and bistro-style frisée salad with spring ramps.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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