If your garden is like mine these days, everything peaks at once! Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuces, beans, peas, basil, berries, radishes, eggplants, squashes—it’s almost too much, which is why I’ve started tossing it all into a salad. I feel like my salads capture summer: casual, without following recipes. If eggplant is at its best, invite them to the salad party. I usually start by laying lettuces and soft herbs in a shallow bowl or platter for a family-style meal. Then, anything goes! Make sure to have olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sea salt handy.
Here are some ideas for building your summer salads with fresh ingredients you can find now or closer to the end of summer, depending on your location. Because my garden has only just begun to grow as of writing (June 2022), I have no idea what it will yield this summer. So, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes adapted (with permission) from “In the Kitchen with Mary’s Place by the Sea: A plant-based recipe book. Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, provides a place for women with cancer to heal, mind, body, and soul. Order your own copy for more delicious recipes!
Quinoa Summer Salad
Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 2 people
- 1 large bunch of kale destemmed and torn into small pieces
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 recipe Grilled Veggies (eggplant, zucchini, squash, and red onion work well. See the recipe below, and don’t be shy to invite others!)
- 1 recipe (½ cup) I Love This Dressing (recipe below)
- Olive oil to taste
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Toss kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and massage until tender (about 2 minutes; makes all the difference in the world!).
- Line the bottom of the salad bowl with kale.
- Mix quinoa, veggies, and dressing. Place on top of kale and serve!
I Love This Dressing
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 cup parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Thin it with water, if necessary.
- 3 red peppers, seeded and halved
- 3 yellow squash or green zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ½-inch thick rectangles
- 3 eggplants, sliced lengthwise into ½-inch rectangles
- 2 medium red onions, sliced into 1-inch circles
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush veggies with olive oil to coat lightly, season with salt and pepper, and toss with half of the chopped herbs.
- While working in batches, grill the veggies until tender and lightly charred all over. Mix remaining oil, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture over the warm grilled veggies and add salt and pepper to taste.
Green Bean and Mango Salad
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- 3 cups green beans, trimmed
- 2 slightly under-ripe mangos
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup cilantro (if it does not disgust you)
- 3 green onions, sliced
- ¼ cup peanuts, crushed (feel free to omit)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon unrefined can sugar
- Boil water in a pan. Add green beans and cook for up to 2 minutes until the beans are bright green. They should be al dente. Drain. Transfer beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again. Slice beans in half lengthwise. Place beans in a bowl. Set aside.
- Peel the mango and slice mango flesh into long, thin strips. Combine mango, green beans, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and peanuts.
- Whisk together the lime juice, tamari, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour dressing over the salad, toss, and serve. I like this salad after it has chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.