Five Summer Salads

I think once a week since the Atkins craze seized us in the 90s, I’ve told myself that I’m going to try to limit the carbs — and at dinner have two vegetable sides instead of one vegetable and one bready-ricey-potatoey thing. Problem is, I like those bready-ricey-potatoey things a lot. And so do the kids. So I barely make it through one meal before I’ve fallen off the strach wagon. But if ever there was a time of year that I had a shot of making this happen, it’s summer, when our farmer’s market opens for the season and the fridge is overflowing with fresh vegetables. We’ve been rockin’ the summer salads for the past few weeks and thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

1. Market Greens with Beets, Sugar Snaps, Candied Walnuts, and Toasted Quinoa (Above) Wrap beets in foil and cook at 400°F for 40 minutes until a knife slips easily through them. Let cool, then peel and chop. Toss into market greens with chopped sugar snap peas, candied walnuts, scallions, and toasted quinoa. (See bottom of post for instructions.) Toss with your favorite vinaigrette, but nothing too overwhelming. (I’d stay away from one that’s balsamic-based.)

2. Sugar Snaps with Cilantro, Pickled Cabbage. Trim peas and chop into bite size pieces. Add handful of cilantro, finely diced red onion, few tablespoons pickled cabbage (here’s a quick pickle recipe if you want; just replace carrots with red cabbage). Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Chilled Napa Cabbage with Cilantro and Shallots I know you’re going to think this is overstating things, but I dreamed of this salad all night long after making it last week. I had a head of Napa cabbage and wasn’t in the mood for a mayo-heavy slaw, so I did what any self-respecting farmer’s market-frequenter would do: I referred to Alice Waters’ bible, Vegetables. (You’ll be hearing more from me about this book very soon.) Waters suggested macerating (i.e. soaking) shallots in white wine vinegar for 15 minutes then tossing with shredded cabbage, cilantro, and really good olive oil, salt, and pepper. I’m telling you — it sounds boring, but when the cabbage is fresh, you won’t believe how perfectly the whole thing cuts the char of a grilled steak.

4. Market Greens with Homemade Ranch Dressing The thing is, when the greens are this good, you don’t need to do a lot. A simple homemade ranch dressing does the job just fine. See recipe at the bottom of this post.

5. Mustardy Potato Salad See what I mean! I can’t ever resist the potato-starchy component. We’ve been making some version of this classic for years now — originally a Mark Bittman recipe. Basically, you peel then boil red or Yukon gold potatoes (about as many as you see above) for 15 minutes — until a knife slips through potatoes with no resistance whatsoever. You don’t want to undercook potatoes, but they also need a little structure. While potatoes are cooking, to a large bowl add a heaping tablespoon whole grain mustard, a heaping tablespoon Dijon, then whisk in about 1/3 cup of olive oil and a splash of a mild vinegar (champagne or white wine or red wine). If you have time to fry a few red onion slices or shallots in bacon fat (from one slice bacon) go for it, otherwise just add a handful of them chopped to the dressing. (Crumble cooked bacon in there, too.) Toss in potatoes while still warm and add fresh herbs, like fresh oregano which we had in our CSA box.

I stole both the toasted-quinoa technique and the buttermilk-ranch recipe from my friend Shaina at Stone Barns, who you might have gathered, is a genius.

Toasted Quinoa:

Add a handful of uncooked quinoa to a pan set over medium-high heat and toast until aromatic and nutty smelling, about 3 mintues. Shake pan so the quinoa rotates and doesn’t burn.

Homemade Ranch dressing:

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk

Add lemon juice, mustard, garlic salt, salt, pepper, onions and herbs to a jar. Cover and shake until ingredients come together. Add olive oil and buttermilk and shake again. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

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Love this very much. And have you all considered a parenting book/memoir? (Forgive me if I’m the 70000th person to suggest it.) Not because you’re experts, but because you’re lovely people who’ve put a lot of thought into how you approach things. And I inevitably think when I read your posts, “that is such a great idea”, and sometimes it’s more about the parenting than the food. 🙂

Meanwhile, tonight you are reducing my stress for the gazillionth time with the mustard-apricot chicken recipe, now adapted to the slow cooker. Thank you!


Yum! Do you have a favorite cilantro substitute, for those poor souls like me who are doomed to taste soap when we eat it?


I’m sorry Miss Jenny, (just felt like saying that)
Do you mean toast uncooked quinoa? Or toast it after it’s cooked?

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag

SALADS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been growing my own lettuce! Which is beyond thrilling. Except my lettuces are a teensy bit bitter. But anyway, I’ve been having a salad for lunch every day. Cannot wait to try your ranch, and that potato salad!!!

PARIS BEE kids blog

THANK YOU for these! I am all about eating salads at the moment and my husband is starting to complain about the lack of variety so I need to change things up for him! These are going to be great additions to our dinner table!!

xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog


just what i needed… thank you!
Have been devouring the slaw from the cookbook and will give the newest recommendation a try pronto.

Maria Tadic

These are some really good combos! I’ve been on such a cabbage kick lately…dunno what’s gotten into me. But I have an excess in my fridge that needs to be used! Can’t wait to try some of these awesome recipes!

Margo, Thrift at Home

TOASTED QUINOA?!!! Mind blown. Must try. All these salads look amazing. We’ve been obsessing over shuba, a Russian potato salad with beets and sardines. Going to blog about it soon.

A Life From Scratch

Any salad with beets is a winner in my book. And that potato salad is sooooo yummy. I love the trick of tossing everything together while the potatoes are still warm, to absorb all that flavor!


Cabbage came in my farm box this week
Headed right to the store to buy cilantro
And steak
So inspiring – cant wait to try


If you’re cutting down on carbs, you need to up the protein and fat. Greens are great, but don’t give the energy that you get from the other food groups. It would be counter productive to eat between meals due to hunger or weakness.