Summer Salads

horiatiki3The minute the weather turns hot and humid, my food cravings change. I no longer want homemade soups and stews, and the comforting carb-filled foods of winter. I want salads!

Without a doubt, my very favorite, go-to summer salad is a Greek peasant salad, or Horiatiki. Unlike the Greek salad more frequently found in restaurants here in the U.S., the peasant salad has no lettuce. It’s just chunks of feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers (absolutely fresh and crispy are a must for me), and Greek olives.

I generally add some white beans to it for a bit of protein in addition to the feta. Many restaurants add peppers, and I’ve even seen beets in one restaurant, but I don’t add either to mine. When I had this salad in Greece, the feta was served in a big slab on top of the cucumbers and tomatoes. I like the feta in cubes throughout the salad, so do it that way instead.

A number of the recipes I’ve seen for Horiatiki call simply for a dressing of olive oil and oregano. That’s a bit heavy for me, so I generally mix in some red wine vinegar with the olive oil, and sometimes add some lemon to it.

Another favorite summer salad is quinoa and black bean salad. I saw someone make a variant of this on a cooking show years ago, and have been adapting it ever since. At this point I don’t even have a recipe, but this one at recipezaar is pretty close to what I do. No matter how I make it, this salad will always have quinoa, a can or two of black beans (well drained), tomatoes, and corn (missing from the recipezaar recipe). Sometimes I add cilantro, while other times I do fresh parsley. My dressing might be based in lime or lemon, depends on my mood.

I’ve recently become interested in pasta salads, and have been experimenting with recipes sent me by friends. So far, I’ve done an interesting — and very simple — salad with whole wheat shell pasta, tuna, celery, peas, and a dressing that’s half mayonnaise and half Russian dressing.

I long ago had a wonderful chicken salad recipe made with fruits — mangoes chief among them. Somehow, I managed to lose the recipe in one of my many moves. So, this summer I’m on a mission to recreate a delicious chicken salad with mangoes.

Do you have any favorite summer salads? If so, would you be willing to share?


30 thoughts on “Summer Salads

  1. kathy

    I love salads too. One of my favorites is pea salad with eggs and cheese and red onions and water chestnut mixed with light mayo.

  2. Maureen

    The salad looked so good that I just had to have it. Picked up a cucumber and a pepper at the grocery store – I had the rest of the ingredients. Yum. Perfect dinner on a warm evening. I had a glass of wine with it too. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Beth W

    One of my favorites is orzo and garbanzo beans with oregano and goat cheese. – just mix a can of garbanzo beans with 1 1/2 cups cooked orzo and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, fresh oregano, and crumbled goat cheese. Delicious!

    I’m also a big fan of tabouli salad. I usually just make the Near East brand out of a box, but add in not only tomatoes but goat cheese, kalamata olives, and cucumbers.

  4. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Oh, Maureen. I’m so glad you liked it. I had it for dinner tonight as well…with a glass of wine!

    Beth, I really like orzo, but had never thought to use it in a salad. That sounds delicious!

    I’m also a huge tabouli fan. I do add cucumbers to it, but never thought of adding goat cheese or olives. That’s a wonderful suggestion. Thanks! I think I’ll be heading to the grocery store tomorrow for the ingredients.

  5. Susan/DC

    Last year my husband had a business trip to Istanbul and I was lucky enough to be able to go too (thank you, frequent flier miles). I loved the city, and one of the best discoveries was the food. Among my favorites was the Shepherd salad. It’s a lot like the Greek salad LinnieGayl describes, but it also contains lots of finely chopped parsley, which makes it a very refreshing salad. I think this kind of salad is fairly common around the Mediterranean; there are similar Israeli and Lebanese salads, and I like them all.

  6. Jean AAR

    I love tabouli, but I don’t do anything special – just very basic tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, and whatever else I have in the fridge; once I did roasted zucchini which worked well, and chucking in beans couldn’t hurt.

  7. Missie

    All these salads sound so lovely! I love tabbouleh, too — like Beth W, I use a mix, but generally only add tomatoes. Adding cucumber and/or olives would be yummy, too. It also makes a lovely stuffing for grape leaves. Alas, my hubby doesn’t care for tabbouleh, but my mom LOVES it, so I’ll make some up sometime to share with her.

    An easy but refreshing chicken salad recipe is chicken mixed with some light Miracle Whip or mayo (I prefer the “tangy zip of Miracle Whip!” *LOL*) and halved red seedless grapes. Add in some finely sliced celery and/or chopped walnuts if you like, as well, and season all to taste with salt & pepper.

  8. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Missie, I’d never thought of stuffing grape leaves with tabbouleh. That sounds like a great idea. Hmm….I’m thinking I could just add mangoes to your chicken salad recipe and come close. Although I think the dressing in my long-lost recipe may have had a bit of mustard.

  9. Missie

    That’s the fun thing with salads — it’s easy enough to give it little tastes with each addition and see if you want to add a bit of this or that, such as mustard :-)

    My box of tabouli (apparently “tabouli” and “tabbouleh” are both accepted spellings) (Casbah) has this as a serving suggestion:

    Tabouli Stuffing

    Use as a stuffing for tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, or grape leaves.

    1. Prepare tabouli according to directions without adding diced tomatoes.

    2. Add 2/3 cup tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional).

    3. Stuff vegetables.

    4. Place stuffed vegetables in a covered pot with 1 cup water, Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes over low heat.

    NOTE: I did not do my grape leaves quite as described in step 4 above; I followed more the directions in a Greek cookbook I have.

  10. Missie

    Oh, I agree, LinnieGayl, I think stuffed tomatoes would be divine — and I agree, no need to cook or simmer the tomato if you don’t want to.

    I bet your quinoa and black bean salad would make an excellent “stuffing” for vegetables, as well.

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