Today’s blog post is all about salad. In our house, we often start chanting that classic Simpsons episode whenever a salad hits the table: “You don’t win friends with salad.” I never said we were a high brow sort over here.
Anyway, today I’m sharing five refreshing summer salads that keep the pep in your step, especially when it’s way too hot to cook. Scroll down to see more!
1. Thai Eggplant Salad
Nothing — and I mean nothing — makes sense from the outside of this salad. There’s grilled eggplant and half-boiled eggs, which seems like it might make just a mushy mess. But add in crunchy roasted peanuts, zesty lime and fiery chopped chili peppers, and suddenly there’s a party all up in your mouth. The cilantro, spring onions and garlic just add freshness and zing to an already crazy sensation of silky, spicy flavors. Trust me on this one — you’ll be addicted to this Thai eggplant salad before you know it.
The key in making this celery, apple and mint slaw is precise knife work. Cut your celery and apples into thin, long matchsticks around the same size and thickness, and you’ll make a beautiful slaw when everything’s tossed with splashes of fresh lemon juice and finely chopped mint. I love this salad with grilled steaks or chicken as a tart, sweet contrast to the smoky char. Alternatively, you can eat this as one of a few salads, if you do a salad-only night (which we do when I can’t take sweating over a hot stove).
Up next in the five refreshing summer salads you need to try is this French carrot salad. I tried this salad for the first time on a trip to Antibes in the south of France a few years ago, and I was instantly hooked on its bright, crunchy flavors. Carrot is easily grated with a box grater, but I run mine through my trusty food processor with the grating blade attached. A simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, garlic, shallots and olive oil is pulled together with a good, vigorous whisking, and then finely minced parsley is scattered on top. With a lively toss or two, this French carrot salad is on the table in minutes. It pairs wonderfully with lightly pan-fried fish or roast chicken.
This miso red cabbage slaw with slices of crunchy radishes and cucumbers was a side dish I originally made two summers ago to pair with buttermilk fried chicken. The chicken was crunchy in all the right places, and the creamy miso dressing was a nice hit of salty and sour right after sinking your teeth into a bit of juicy meat. Considering that Ge Ge (my 7-year-old son) recently told us that he believes his natural scent is “miso,” we’ll be making a lot more of this miso red cabbage slaw to help him realize his best self (or whatever version of him emits miso all the time).
Did you know that lettuce takes on this delightfully smoky, hearty flavor when it’s grilled ever-so-slightly? I didn’t until a few years ago, and it blew my mind. If you haven’t before, try grilled romaine lettuce for your summer salads as a base for a multi-dimensional Caesar salad or this version I made with sliced ripe peaches, creamy blue brie cheese and glossy candied pecans. By the way, if you’re a fan of blue cheese, there’s a special place in heaven waiting for you with a silver platter of blue brie cheese on it. It’s creamy, salty, and marvelous.