When the summer temps start to hit the level of blazing hot, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is…
- Eat anything heavy.
- Turn on the oven.
- Stand over the hot stove.
So I live off of summer salads.
My husband tends to be pretty agreeable to whatever food I put in front of him (except eggs, but whatever) and my 17 month old baby eats anything and everything that is considered food, even if it isn’t. My 4 year old is a different story. So if you have finicky people in your family, know that I am standing in solidarity with you, sister, and making up PB&Js, because ya got protein, whole grains, and fruit. It’s fine. For the rest of us, salads are so great because they’re not heavy, you can pig out on them and not have to worry so much about sucking in your belly around the pool, they can be customized to suit any and all taste buds, and there’s just something special about summer produce. Here are three of my top favorite summer salads that you can eat all day, every day.
The key to summer salad living is to prepare in advance.
If you’ve done Whole 30 or win at home management, you’re very familiar with the importance of this. If I lost you at “advance preparation,” please just hear me out. You can do hard things and all of us here at Scottsdale Moms Blog are cheering for you. Trust me, I tend to be Hot Mess Mom and even I manage to get my prep work done.
Step 1 Make chicken (if chicken is your thing). Add chicken tenders to a large zip lock baggie, sprinkle with 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s or Mrs. Dash, approximately a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (balsamic or red wine vinegar works, too) or lemon juice and 2-ish tablespoons of olive oil. (Gee, I should write a cookbook!) Zip up the baggie and massage all that with the chicken, then empty out into your crockpot and add ¼ cup water or chicken broth. Protip: Plug in your crockpot in the garage and let it do its magic. Give it about 3 ½ – 4 hours on low. Shred or cut up into chunks or leave it whole. It’s your life. The chicken goes into every salad. Or not. No pressure. You do want to have some kind of protein on hand for each salad, though, so if you’re vegetarian, omit the chicken and use your protein of choice.
Step 2 Pre-chop things like cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, and whatever else your little heart desires.
Step 3 Buy assorted bags of lettuce varieties to make life easier, or buy actual lettuces and rinse & chop them yourself to save money. I recommend having romaine, spinach, kale, mixed greens, and Napa cabbage on hand. You can also have purple cabbage and shredded carrots on hand, too. Nobody’s gonna get mad at your for having more veg in your salad. Except for your finicky, precious 4 year old.
Ready to make some ensalade? Let’s go!
Please note that my measurements are non-existent and you should base them on whatever size salad you’re making. The more people you’re feeding, the more ingredients you’ll add. Go with what feels right. Also, my house is dairy free because of food allergies, so I don’t include cheese or other dairy in any of these recipes.
Southwest Chopped Salad – It’s like a zesty produce fiesta in your mouth and 1,000 times more delicious than a restaurant version.
- Start with a base of romaine lettuce
- Canned black beans, drained
- Roasted corn (find it frozen at Trader Joe’s and thaw), or canned corn, drained
- Chopped tomatoes
- Any other veggies you’ve prepared in advance (good job, by the way!)
- Dress with salsa of choice and a drizzle of ranch (I use Follow Your Heart brand vegan ranch)
Spinach & Berry Salad – So light, refreshing and sweet, this salad is sure to bring you good vibes this summer.
- Start with a base of baby spinach (kale massaged with a little EVOO works well, too)
- Strawberries, sliced
- Any other fruit you might have on hand if you’re feeling it (personally love the craisins with blueberry flavoring by Ocean Spray, apples or canned & drained Mandarin oranges)
- Any other veggies you’ve prepared in advance.I’m not big on onions, but sliced red onions would be good if you’re into it. Those cucumbers would be amazing!
- Go ahead and add croutons if carbs make you happy
- Dress with poppy seed dressing
Chinese Chicken Salad – A colorful, tasty salad that’s light but filing and perfect for summer.
- Start with a base of mixed greens and Napa cabbage, chopped
- Add assorted veggies, such as carrot shreds, cucumber, green onion, purple cabbage, mini sweet bells, avocado, etc
- Mandarin oranges
- Slivered Almonds
- Crunchy Lo Mein noodles
- Dress with sesame ginger dressing
Each and every one of these salads pairs well with iced tea or a crisp, chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Enjoy!