What happened to lazy summers? Sure the students are gone but your work hasn’t stopped. In fact, your plate seems to be fuller than ever. Despite the “break” in the Junior League schedule, the committee meetings are still popping up on your calendar. Your in-laws are downsizing and need your help cleaning out the garage. The lawn won’t mow itself.

Your husband has thankfully agreed to grill on the weekends but during the week you’re still “discussing” what’s for dinner as you walk in the door from work. Neither of you really want to cook but you know if you go out you won’t be able to say no to a post dinner Butter Pecan Concrete. It’s safer to stay home.

Wouldn’t a salad be easy? Easy but boring you think. Ugh…. iceberg lettuce with ranch and grilled chicken breast…again? You know you’ll be scrounging the cupboards for flavor later. Even spinach with fresh strawberries is getting a little old.

Perk up dinner with these ideas for delicious summer salads.

Maybe it’s time to think out of the box (or bag)? I’ve been so inspired by Salad Samuri by Terry Hope Romero that I am declaring it the “Summer of Salads”. Let me share a little of what I’ve learned from this amazing vegan cookbook and from my good friend, Grace Rybarczyk, who taught an extraordinary Building a Great Salad class for me and my clients last Saturday.

Leafy greens are great but you’ve got other options for your salad base. Think red cabbage, veggie noodles, roasted cauliflower or fruit. One of my favorite recipes from Salad Samuri is the Asparagus Pad Thai. While I used pad thai noodles, you can make zucchini noodles instead along with the shaved asparagus to create a refreshing twist on a classic Asian dish.

Say yes to carbs! Your body needs smart carbs like beans and whole grains for energy. Bean based salads are extremely easy to put together and make a great lunch for the office. When I made the Seared Garlic Chickpea, Spinach & Farro dish from Salad Samuri, I blended everything together EXCEPT the spinach for easy leftovers and then placed my serving over a bed of baby spinach when I was ready to eat.

Don’t forget your protein. Of course you can do chicken but hardboiled eggs, beans, edamame, tempeh and roasted tofu are delicious protein options for filling supper salad. Ever since Grace’s previous class on roasting, I have become the master of roasting tofu. (Click here for the recipe for a basic marinade I love to use for tofu.) I make sure to press the tofu first, then marinade for 30-60 minutes. I roast in a 425 oven for about 10 minutes, turn over the pieces and roast again for another 5-10 minutes. I made the Almond Butter Hemp Dressing from Salad Samuri and, along with the roasted tofu, used it to top a mixture of kale, red cabbage, pumpkin seeds and fresh cilantro.

Make your own dressing. Speaking of dressing, it’s really not hard to whip up a flavorful and fresh dressing. You’ll know exactly what’s in it (bottled salad dressing can be loaded with hidden sugar and chemicals) and enjoy less waste by making exactly the right amount. Here’s a recipe for Almond Orange Dressing that Grace shared with us in class.

Almond Orange Salad Dressing

Fresh juice of 1 Valencia orange
1 1/2-2 Tbsp almond butter (I used the fresh ground, roasted)
2 tsp olive oil
Generous 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste (optional, I prefer salt & pepper on salad rather than in dressing)

Whisk all ingredients together and serve! Grace says it goes great on a salad with avocado, radish, chickpeas.

Ready to take a fresh look at salads? I can’t wait to see your fresh creations. Follow me on Instagram to see my veggie adventures and use the hashtag #SummerofSalads to share yours!


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