Three Ways to Take Summer Salads from Boring to Brilliant

August 14, 2018

See how tasty nutrient-packed vegetables can be, with recipes from local kitchen pros that feature summer’s bounty. Bet you’ll be back for seconds!

Summer Greek Salad

“I love this in the summer because the cucumbers are so cool and crunchy,” says Lindsay Sterling, host of and a food writer from Freeport, Maine.

Prepare the salad:

In a large bowl, combine lettuce and sliced tomato, cucumber, green onions, red pepper, green pepper, crumbled feta cheese and kalamata olives.

Add a small handful of fresh mint leaves (tear larger leaves in halves or thirds). “They make the salad come alive,” adds Lindsay. “But you could substitute a pinch of dried oregano or dried mint.”

Prepare the dressing:

Nothing beats fresh lemon juice and olive oil for flavor – so bright and refreshing – and it’s simple to make. No lemon handy? Use red wine vinegar instead.

Cut a lemon in half. Over a cereal bowl, press the tines of a fork into the open half of lemon to start the juice flowing.

Pour the lemon juice through a strainer to discard any seeds, or pick them out with a fork.

Add a little more olive oil than you have lemon juice, or use equal parts if you like your dressing strong and tangy.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Use the same dressing from Lindsay’s Greek Salad to start off another summer favorite.

Prepare the dressing:

Start with the oil-and-lemon dressing in our Greek Salad recipe.

Add chopped garlic and chopped fresh herbs (Lindsay uses parsley, oregano, and thyme from her garden) and a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

Prepare the vegetables:

Prepare whole portobello mushroom caps, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, corn, and zucchini sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks and planks of red bell pepper

Lightly dress the vegetables, reserving the rest for serving.

Grill vegetables.

Place a mound of lettuce on a serving platter (Lindsay’s pick: arugula). Arrange grilled veggies on top. Drizzle on some dressing, nestle in wedge of blue cheese and serve.

Spinach, Arugula, Carrot Thinnings and Sunshine Vinaigrette

Carrots grow in crowded rows that need to be thinned. Luckily, those thinnings – or sliced carrots from your nearby market – make a great addition to a summer salad like this one, featured in Full Moon Suppers (Roost Books, 2017), by Annemarie Ahearn, founder of the Salt Water Farm Cooking School in Lincolnville, Maine. Annemarie’s assistant, Rebecca, named the dressing – and its combination of sweet, acid, and aromatic flavors is sure to delight!


Prepare the dressing:


Mash two cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle (or a rolling pin and cutting board). Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons minced lemon thyme, 2 tablespoons minced lemon balm, 1 tablespoon minced sorrel and more salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in a half-cup of olive oil. Let flavors meld for 15 minutes.


Prepare the salad:


Place 2 cups of young spinach and 2 cups of young arugula (clean and dry) in a large bowl.


Add 1 large handful carrots thinned from your garden or thinly sliced carrots.


Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then toss with some of the dressing.


Serve remaining dressing on the side.