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It’s summertime, and the eating is easy. With that sense of endless days and steamy nights, not to mention all that glorious fresh fruits and vegetables around us, summer’s main meal can be as simple as a salad. Especially salads full of the variety of greens available everywhere – from your traditional romaines, spinach and kale to spicy arugulas, dandelion and buttery Boston bibbs, the sky’s the limit.
Main dish salads are perfect for summertime eating – easy on everyone, including the cook! Here’s a fabulous selection of summer salads that can be created in no time, and always delicious.
Smoky Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad
Just-picked corn is super sweet and when grilled on the barbecue, the flavour is enhanced. Look for bright green husks, moist dark silk and plump kernels. Serves 4-6. Recipe; courtesy Foodlandontario.ca.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce or chipotle hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. each dried oregano, grated lime rind and salt
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cups grilled corn kernels
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup packed fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
Half sweet red pepper, chopped
4 to 6 cups torn salad greens (romaine, spinach, arugula, red and green leaf lettuce)
Dressing: In small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together oil, lime juice, chipotle, garlic, oregano, lime rind and salt. Remove 1 Tbsp. of dressing and brush on both sides of chicken. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 185°F on meat thermometer. Transfer to cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes. Slice diagonally into thin strips. (Chicken can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
In large serving bowl, combine chicken, corn, tomatoes, coriander, onions and red pepper; toss with remaining dressing. Divide salad greens among plates and evenly distribute salad over top.
Tip: To grill corn, soak 4 large cobs, with green husks, in cold water for at least 30 minutes. To avoid flare up, trim off any loose strands of husks. Place on grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning frequently, for about 20 minutes or until husks are charred and corn is tender. Let cool slightly, then cut kernels off cobs. For charred marks, place stripped cobs on grill for a few minutes until brown on all sides.
If cooking corn and chicken together, grill corn for 10 minutes and then add chicken to the grill and cook according to recipe.
Sweet and Savoury Spinach Salad
Crisp, aromatic greens blended with smooth, tangy cheese and sweet tender fruit make this summer salad the star of the picnic. Assemble and toss with dressing just before serving. Serves 4. Recipe courtesy foodlandontario.ca
1/4 cup EACH olive oil, honey, freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
3 cups EACH baby spinach, arugula (torn)
1 cup EACH thinly sliced plums and nectarines
1/2 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup EACH pumpkin seeds, crumbled bacon or crispy prosciutto
In small jar with tight fitting lid, place oil, honey lime juice and poppy seeds. Seal; shake well.
Salad: In medium shallow bowl, place spinach and arugula, top with plums, nectarines, cheese and onion. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, toss with half of the dressing. Arrange salad on plates. Top each with pumpkin seeds and bacon. Serve with additional dressing, if desired.
Summer Fruit Salad Rolls
Fresh and light, these sweet summer fruit salad rolls with a hint of mint are perfect as a starter, dessert or snack. Serves 6. Courtesy ontariotenderfruit.ca.
2 pears, cored and thinly sliced
2 nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced
3 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
12 rice paper wraps
24 large mint leaves
Coronation Grape Sauce
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 cups Coronation grapes (or any sweet, red grapes)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salad Rolls: Toss pears, nectarines and plums with honey and chopped mint. Soak a rice paper wrap in hot tap water for 10 seconds or until pliable; carefully transfer to a slightly damp kitchen towel. Arrange 2 mint leaves in centre of wrap, leaving space on sides. Top with some of fruit mixture.
Firmly fold bottom half of wrap over filling. Fold in sides and roll up to completely enclose filling. Repeat with remaining fruit wraps. Store in refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap for up to 2 hours.
Cut in half, on an angle, before serving with grape sauce for dipping.
Coronation Grape Sauce: Whisk water with cornstarch and until smooth; set aside. Add grapes, sugar, lemon juice and salt to a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, crushing fruit with potato masher to release its juice. Boil, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve; discard solids. Cool completely.
NOTE: Any leftover sauce can be used in yogurt, over ice cream.
TIP: Blend grape sauce with thick yogurt and drizzle over rolls.
Lentil and Apple Salad
A hearty salad that’s nutritious, quick to make and travels well for lunch the next day. Serves 8. Recipe courtesy foodlandontario.ca.
1 medium beet
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) lentils, preferably green
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (approx)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
Peel beet and cut into pieces no larger than 1/2-inch. Place on large baking sheet and toss with about 1/2 tsp, of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in 400°F oven, stirring once or twice, until beet is tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in small frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove to paper towel and pat dry.
Drain lentils and rinse with water, then drain well. In medium-size serving bowl, stir together beets, lentils, carrot and parsley.
Whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper; stir into lentil mixture. Core apples and coarsely chop; stir into salad. Taste and add a little more lemon juice, salt or pepper if needed. Sprinkle with bacon and feta (if using). Serve at room temperature. (Salad will last refrigerated for a few days.)