Six Summer Salads

Sick of corn and tomatoes accessorizing your burgers and dogs? Of course you aren’t! But I thought I’d give some options for summery side dishes anyway. Be sure to stock up on your olive oil, lemons, salt, and pepper because this time of year, that’s pretty much all you need to lift your side acts to show-stealers.

Wheat Berry Salad with Feta, Cherries, Walnuts and Onions
I’m sick of quinoa. I know Andy has outed me before about this, and it’s not necessarily that I’m sick of eating it. It’s just that there are so many other grains worthy of the rock star status that we have bestowed upon quinoa that I feel it’s my duty to ignite a new grain frenzy going forward. Let’s start with the humble wheat berry: Firm, flavorful, nutty, hard to overcook, a delicious vehicle for any greens or summer vegetables you might want to mix in with it. For now, try tossing in lots of chopped mint, dried cherries (be generous here; you want one in every bite), chopped walnuts, squeeze of lemon, olive oil and red onions that have been sauteed in olive oil and finished with balsamic vinegar. (I set aside a small bowl without feta for a guest at our table who was pregnant and not eating feta) Basic wheat berries instructions: Combine 2 cups wheat berries, 6 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy about 45 minutes to an hour. The berries should be slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

Arugula with Radishes and Mint As always, I discover some of my most favorite things when I’m challenged to cook for someone with dietary limiations. In this case I was charged with bringing a salad to my neighbor’s backyard barbecue, which shouldn’t seem like too much of a challenge, given that this time of year greens are about as good as they ever get so don’t need much by way of creative adornment. But no matter how fresh, I usually like just a little feta or Parm -(scratch that…neighbor is dairy free ) or barring that, maybe a splash of  rice vinegar or soy sauce (abort: neighbor is also gluten-free) or, since I can’t use soy sauce, at least a little bit of my new favorite ingredient, fish sauce….woops, you guessed it: he’s also vegan. So instead I tossed arugula, fresh snow peas, scallions, radishes, tons of mint and cilantro then just tossed with a vinaigrette made of equal parts rice vinegar and grapeseed oil with a squeeze of lime and a dash of hot pepper flakes. And guess what? I found myself making it last night for a decidedly more omnivorous crowd: my kids. So insanely fresh tasting and flavorful.

Tomatoes White Beans & Rosemary Phoebe’s camp incorporates cooking again this year, which means that every few days she hops in the car and tells me what we need to have for dinner. This was the inspired idea last week. So easy! So satisfying! So fast! If a bunch of ten-year-olds can make it, you can, too. We used one 15-ounce can of white beans (such as cannelini, rinsed and drained), a handful of cherry tomatoes (halved), 3 scallions (chopped), 1 tablespoon or so of rosemary (chopped), olive oil, squeeze of lemon (+ a bit of lemon zest), salt, pepper.

Shredded Kale Salad Cannot. Get. Enough Kale. I don’t know what it is. When I pick up my stash at the farmer’s market and other people on line inevitably ask what I do with it, I bestow upon them these simple words: Shred, my friend, Shred! I don’t know why it makes such a difference but when it’s presented like confetti, it has a tenderizing effect so the kids are more likely to eat it, it’s summery, easy, and with every bite, you feel like you’ve added a year onto your life. On this particular night, we tossed the kale (I like lacinato or Tuscan) with avocado, pecorino, scallions, a drizzle of good-quality olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, then salt and freshly ground pepper.

Oldie but Goodie Our friends Todd and Anne were having friends over for dinner and being the neighborly person I am I decide to stop by unannounced to drop off a few albums that Andy has been meaning to give them. Well of course I interrupted the whole beautiful dinner — everyone stopped eating and got up to say hello and I felt terrible. But not terrible enough to not notice what they were eating: some delicious looking homemade vegetarian pizzas with eggplant plus Matt & Ted Lee’s soybean and cherry tomato salad with buttermilk dressing that I made all the time two summers ago and had completely forgotten about. Well, guess what I made the very next night?

Yogurt-Dressed Salads I am so loving the yogurt dressing trend. (Or has it been a trend for a while and I just didn’t notice and now everyone’s on to tahini or something?) Anyway, this cole slaw with apple-yogurt dressing caught my eye as did David Tanis’s beet salad with yogurt-dill dressing. Haven’t made either yet, but plan to remedy this very soon. (Photo by Marcus Nilsson)

Related: Julia Moskin interviewed me and a bunch of parent cookbook authors for her New York Times story called “Raw Panic,” i.e. dealing with the summer bounty that “comes with a deadline.” Some delicious looking solutions in there.

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Loving these salad ideas – can’t wait to try the mint! We have been making one that sort of combines two of yours – a wheat berry salad with avocado-based dressing and shredded kale … lots of lemon and toasted almonds … also can’t get enough of it. Now I am going to try it with dried cherries – genius. I think this post might be my week’s menu 🙂 Thanks guys!


The wheat berry salad is now on my dinner list for this week! I’m pregnant now, so I’ll have to forgo the feta 🙁 Goat cheese is normally my cheese of choice, and I’m missing it this summer. I am one of those who always forgets about salad, and when I finally get around to making one, can’t believe I’ve waited this long.


These all look delicious! I used to be a big time quinoa pusher myself, but since I discovered farro a few months ago it’s my new obsession. I’ll cook up the entire bag one day and store it in the refrigerator. Then I just add bits of whatever veggies, herbs, and cheese I have around to a bowl of it for a different lunch salad several times a week. Last week I topped it with Fried Egg, Spinach, and Soy Sauce – sound familiar?


I’m definitely not sick of either tomatoes or corn–but these salads look great nonetheless! The white bean and tomato salad looks perfect for summer lunch. I also love yogurt-dressed salads–especially on a peppery potato and green bean salad. Hooray!


The only thing our garden has produced this summer is kale and it just keeps coming. Great recipe, thank you! I used lime juice but it worked out well just the same.


I love kale, too! I can’t wait to add avocado! Great idea! Thanks! And as I’m reading this, I’m eating a bowl of wheat berry salad I made on Monday. My mouth is on fire because I love sriracha way too much. Thanks for the post!


At 38 weeks pregnant in the hottest summer ever all I can remotely fit in my stomach right now is summer salads, so, thank you for this. They all look so refreshing and light. I can’t wait to try the wheat berry salad, how healthy for my bebe!

Have you cooked with smoked paprika before? This is a life changing ingredient, IMO. My sister and I just made an awesome smoked paprika cous cous summer salad last night. It’s already completely disappeared out of our fridge:


Loved the kale recipe. The avocado makes it. I served it alongside some baked white fish and it felt like such a power meal. Bonus #1: had leftovers with scrambled eggs for breakfast (yum!) Bonus 2: I love that my kids will eat this kind of stuff. Great recipes!


I’m about to make the Kale salad. Right. Now. The white bean one looks lovely too! Your cookbook is on my wishlist! (And my birthday is around the corner, so, here’s hoping!)
Thanks for all in the inspiration!