Summer Salads

Recipes for spiced up salads with a twist.
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Grilled Avocado Cobb Salad with Apricot Dressing

SERVES 6 TO 8 It first occurred to me to grill avocados when I had a bunch of really hard ones that I wanted to use that night. I thought about how to soften them up and, since I grill everything, decided to throw them on and see what happened. I tossed the halves with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and voilà-avocados with a smoky taste. For grilling, be sure to choose avocados that are still fairly firm; soft ones don’t work. The apricot preserves are just the right accent for the blue cheese and smoky bacon in the salad. _3 large firm avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 1/ 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice_ Apricot Dressing _2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar 1/ 4 cup apricot preserves 1/ 3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper_ _8 cups chopped iceberg, romaine, or butter leaf lettuce 1 cup diced tomato 1 cup drained, diced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes 2 large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, whites and yolks coarsely chopped separately 6 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled 1/ 2 cup crumbled blue cheese_ To grill the avocados: Preheat a gas grill on medium-high heat or light a charcoal grill. Brush or spray the avocados evenly with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the avocado halves just until grill marks form, 2 to 3 minutes. With a spatula, carefully turn the halves and cook for a few minutes more, until marks appear on the other side. Remove to a side dish and sprinkle lime juice over each half. Cool the avocados to room temperature or refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the salad. For the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, apricot preserves, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. To assemble the salad: In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the dressing. Transfer the dressed lettuce to a large platter. Carefully cut the grilled avocados on the bias into thick slices and place them down the center of the salad. In a small bowl, mix the fresh and sun-dried tomatoes together. Spoon the yolks, whites, bacon, tomatoes, and cheese around the avocado. Serve. From Cat Cora’s Classics With a Twist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Available now at
Photo from Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist

Leek and Zucchini Salad

_8 medium leeks, white parts only, quartered, and rinsed in cold water to remove any grit 4 small zucchini, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces and quartered 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon acacia honey 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill_ 1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook for 7-minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season to taste. Add the leeks and zucchini and toss gently to combine. 3. Serve garnished with fresh dill. From French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano (Atria Books). Available now at
Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Cranberry Pecan Salad

Serves 8 to 10 This recipe comes from my partner Hank’s aunt, who resides in Bardstown, Kentucky. _1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/4 cups water 4 cups fresh cranberries 2 tablespoons (2 packages) plain gelatin 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 2/3 cup chopped pecans 1 cup diced celery 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced Grapes and orange sections, for garnish_ Oil a 2-quart mold or glass baking dish. Bring the sugar and 1 cup of the water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cranberries and cook until the skins burst. Cook for about 5 minutes; remove from the heat. Soften the gelatin in the remaining 1/4 cup cold water and add to the cranberries, stirring until dissolved. Add the lemon juice and let cool slightly. When the mixture begins to thicken, 5 to 7 minutes, fold in the pecans, celery, and apple. Place in the mold or glass baking dish and chill for at least 6 hours. Remove from the mold and garnish with grapes and orange sections. From Mary Mac’s Tea Room: 65 Years of Recipes from Atlanta’s Favorite Dining Room by John Ferrell (Andrews McMeel Publishing_. Available now at
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Avocado, Mango and Grilled Scallop Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 4 minutes _4 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons lime juice 1/4 teaspoon grated lime peel garlic clove, minced teaspoon salt teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 pound dry sea scallops, halved crosswise 4 large Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced 1/4-inch thick 1 medium mango, pitted, peeled, and sliced 1/4-inch thick 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds_ 1. To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lime juice and peel, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside. 2. Combine the scallops, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a bowl; toss to coat. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the scallops. Cook until they have a rich brown crust, about 2 minutes; turn and repeat. Set aside. 3. Place a lettuce leaf on each serving plate. Alternate 4 or 5 slices each of avocado and mango in a row in each lettuce cup. Top with a few onion rounds. Add scallops, and drizzle with vinaigrette. By Ellie Krieger. First published to July 2010.
Con Poulos

Papaya and Mango Salad with Strawberries, Mint and Mandarins

Prep time: 23 minutes Serves 8 _4 medium ripe papayas, peeled, seeded and cubed 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and liced 2 cups strawberries, hulled 1?3 cup superfine sugar Juice of 2 mandarin oranges 1/4 cup white rum 10 mint leaves, chopped_ 1. Place papayas and mangoes in individual bowls. 2. Place the strawberries, sugar, mandarin juice, rum and chopped mint in a blender or food processor. Puree well, then pour over the papaya and mango. Garnish with mint sprig. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later. From Babette’s Feast by Babette de Rozieres. First published to October 2009. See more recipes from your favorite celebrity chefs here
Peter Krumhardt

Chipotle Caesar Mexicano

Snappy Caesar salad gets a Mexican makeover. _Chipotle variation of Creamy Ancho Chile Dressing (see below) 5 to 6 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces 2 cups freshly made fried tortilla strips 2 cups seeded and diced ripe red tomato_ Creamy Ancho Chile Dressing _Makes slightly less than 1 cup of dressing Time: Less than 10 minutes_ Enjoy more spicy, creamy, tangy goodness with your salad! Not just for salads anymore, use this dressing as a dip for French fries or as an alternative topping for Mexican Side-Street Corn. The chipotle variation is even faster and easier, but don’t let it distract you from making the tasty ancho original at least once. _2 ounces dried ancho chiles (3 to 4 large dried chiles) 3?4 cup vegan mayonnaise 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon vegan ketchup_ 1. Slice open the dried chiles and remove and discard the stems and seeds. In a pre-heated cast-iron pan over medium heat, toast the chiles, using a metal spatula to press them down onto the pan. Toast for about 1 minute each side until the chiles darken slightly and the skin appears somewhat brittle. 2. Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl, cover with enough boiling water to cover, and soak for 5 minutes. Discard the soaking water and, in a food processor, puree together the soaked chiles, mayonnaise, lime juice, and ketchup until very smooth. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning with more lime juice, if desired. For a thinner dressing, blend in a tablespoon of soy milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached. From Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero (Lifelong Books). Available now at
Courtesy of Amazon

Spinach-Brazil Nut – Gazpacho Salad

Your everyday spinach salad on a sassy tropical vacation. _Fresh Gazpacho Salsa Dressing (see below) 4 cups spinach, washed well and torn into bite-size pieces 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and sliced 2 cups or 1 (14-ounce) can cooked black beans, rinsed 1?2 cup toasted chopped Brazil nuts 1?2 large sweet white onion, sliced into thin strips_ Fresh Gazpacho Salsa Dressing makes about 1 cup of dressing _1/2 pound ripe red tomatoes 1/2 cup diced sweet white onion 1/2 green, red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely 1 green chile pepper, seeded and chopped 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon salt a pinch of sugar (optional) Freshly ground pepper_ Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Use immediately or store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. From Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero (Lifelong Books). Available now at For more recipes from your favorite celebrities click here
Mike Jensen

Watermelon Mint Salad

_4 cups (about 1 pound, 3 ounces) 1-inch-diced watermelon 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice 2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions, white and green parts 6 large fresh mint leaves, finely julienned_ In a large bowl, gently toss the watermelon with the lime juice, jalapeno, scallions, and mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. From B. Smith Cooks Southern Style by Barbara Smith (Scribner). Available now at"
Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Seafood Salad with Collard Greens Slaw

yields 6 servings _1 pound small littleneck clams or Manila clams, scrubbed 2 tablespoons packed chopped fresh basil 11?2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded 11?2 tablespoons drained capers 1 cup dry white wine 11?2 large cloves garlic, minced 1 pound sea scallops, connective side tissue trimmed 11?2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1?4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper 3?4 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1?4 cup extra virgin olive oil Collard Greens Slaw for serving 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar_ 1. In large wide pot, combine the clams, mussels, and wine. Cover lid tightly, and cook over high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the clams and mussels open. Discard any clams and mussels that do not open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams and mussels to a very large bowl. Strain the cooking liquid into a medium bowl and set aside. 2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the scallops until just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the scallops from the saucepan and add to the clams and mussels. 3. Return the water in the saucepan to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook just until opaque in the cen¬ter, about 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and transfer to the bowl with the shell?sh. (Seafood can be prepared 4 hours ahead and refrigerated until serving.) 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, basil, parsley, capers, garlic, mustard, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk 1?3 cup of the reserved cooking liquid into the dressing (reserve remaining cooking liquid for another use). Dressing can be made up to 4 hours ahead; cover tightly, refrigerate, and bring to room temperature before using. 5. Pour the dressing over the shell?sh and toss to combine. Serve over Collard Greens Slaw. From B. Smith Cooks Southern Style by Barbara Smith (Scribner). Available now at" For more great summer recipes from Top Chefs’ click here



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