8 cool recipes that turn hot summer days into salads

For those hot summer days, sometimes a fresh salad is all you want to make or eat. Mixing any type of greens – lettuce, kale, spinach – with any type of ingredient you have in your kitchen, including fruits, vegetables, meat or pasta can make a nutritious and colorful meal. Of course, in the South, we also love our “frozen salads,” a fancy name for gelatin mixes with fruits, whipped toppings, nuts, and a number of other ingredients that are a mainstay at holiday gatherings. or potluck dinners.

But don’t stop there. Think beyond lettuce and Jell-O. “I want to encourage your readers to be adventurous when it comes to making their salads,” says Tera Glenn, Regional Extension Officer II for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Sometimes we can get into a rut and use the same old ingredients every time we make our salads. Take a chance on an ingredient you’re not entirely sure about.

To save time (because it can take a long time to chop your veggies and prep all the ingredients at once), Glenn suggests doing a little prep at the start of the week. “Go ahead and have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go, so it’s easy to mix them up when it’s time to make the salad,” she says. “Salads are a great way to pack a variety of nutrients and minerals into one meal.”

To mix together

Here are Glenn’s tips for making salads special:

  • Change your greens. Don’t be afraid to mix different types of vegetables together.
  • To beef up your salad, add your favorite grains (quinoa, brown rice, wild rice) or even pasta.
  • Fill your salad with vegetables. To save money, be sure to buy vegetables that are in season.
  • For extra flavor, add your favorite fruits – strawberries, blueberries and oranges.
  • To make your salad more hearty, add protein (chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, shrimp, eggs).
  • Beans or peas can also be a great addition. Glenn often adds chickpeas to the salad, and it’s common to add snow peas or snap peas.
  • Add some crunch to your salad with your favorite nuts and seeds.
  • If you have more time, make your own salad dressings from ingredients you have in your pantry or fridge. (When choosing store-bought dressing, be careful about how much you use, as it can be very high in sugar, fat, and salt: if you make your own dressing at home, you can control your ingredients. )
  • Use fresh herbs and spices for added flavor.
This Italian tortellini salad with house dressing is anything but boring. (The Buttered House)

Italian tortellini salad

Salads don’t have to be boring. A good salad is like nice pants: you can add anything to it to make it more stylish. This Italian tortellini salad is proof. If you love the flavors of Italian charcuterie with creamy pasta, this salad is for you. And we show you how easy it is to make a delicious homemade dressing to complete the meal.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 3 cups green leaf lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup chopped pepperoni
  • ½ cup chopped hard salami
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 pound package frozen cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, grated or shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and cool. Chop lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoni, salami and onion. Combine vegetables, salami, pepperoni, shredded mozzarella and shredded or grated Parmesan in a large bowl with pasta and toss. Combine vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and whisk or shake in a jar to combine. Pour over the salad and toss until everything is covered. Garnish with parmesan shavings and chopped basil.

Brooke Burk, The buttered house

An aversion to waste led Jimmie Lou Horton Carpenter to create this watermelon salad. Her granddaughter, Angela Bradley, swears by her today. (Brooke Echols/Alabama Living)

watermelon salad

Angela Bradley’s grandmother, Jimmie Lou Horton Carpenter, never wanted to waste food, so using all the meat in a watermelon was important to her. “We cut the meat off the rind and put it in bowls, but it was starting to dry out, so she started making this salad,” says Bradley. “She was fearless that way. Even if she had never heard of something, seen it, or eaten it, she would try it. The recipe fluctuated from time to time to include what was in season or on sale at the IGA. The salad, made tangy with the addition of lemon juice and cayenne pepper adding a kick, is always something Bradley does, “especially when the melons are in season. There always seems to be more than you can eat, so it’s a great way to avoid wasting it. I like to serve it best after a big meal like Sunday dinner or a barbecue. It’s better than a pie or cake on a hot day.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey (or substitute blue agave syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

Instructions

Whisk together the lemon juice, honey, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix with fruit and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Angela Bradley

Fresh apple salad

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 2 large red apples, unpeeled
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, reserving juice for dressing
  • 2 cups seedless green grapes
  • 1½ cups toasted pecans
  • 1-2 teaspoons of poppy seeds

For the dressing:

  • Pineapple juice reserved for salad
  • ¼ cup margarine
  • ¼ cup) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 cup mayonnaise or ½ cup mayonnaise and ½ cup plain yogurt

Instructions

First prepare the dressing. Combine pineapple juice, margarine, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water to make a paste and add to hot mixture. Cook until thick and smooth. Cool completely, then stir in mayonnaise or mayonnaise and yogurt.

Chop apples and grapes (green apples and red grapes also work). Toast the pecans and let cool. Combine apples, pineapple chunks, green grapes and poppy seeds. Pour in the prepared dressing and mix well. Garnish with pecans.

Joyce Gibson

A special dressing helps this chicken salad from Karen Turnquist stand out. (Brooke Echols/Alabama Living)

Chicken salad

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 3 cups chicken, cubed
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 package green grapes, halved
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup walnuts

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2½ tablespoons orange marmalade
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1-2 dashes of pepper
  • 1 pinch of salt

Instructions

Combine chicken, red onion, grapes, avocado and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the mixture to your liking and toss gently. Cook’s Note: The dressing is also good brushed on steaks or ribs and chicken while cooking.

Karen Turnquist

Roasted Cauliflower Summer Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bag 12 oz cauliflower, chopped (or chop your own into small pieces)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • ¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chopped cauliflower on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is lightly browned. Place the cooked cauliflower in a large serving dish and add the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Kathy Phillips

Coke salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of Cherry Jell-O
  • 1 package 8 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 Coca-Cola 20 ounces
  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained, but reserve the juice
  • 1 large jar maraschino cherries, sliced ​​and drained, but reserve the juice
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions

Pour reserved cherry juice and reserved pineapple juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over Jell-O. Let cool. With an electric mixer, mix the Coke and the cream cheese. Mix Jell-O with cream cheese and Coke. Stir in pineapple, cherries and pecans. Refrigerate until set.

Mary Grace Miller

strawberry delight

Ingredients

  • 1 can (21 ounces) strawberry pie filling
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large Cool Whip
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate.

Mary Grace Miller

Here’s another tasty twist on Judy Kennett’s Italian tortellini salad. (Brooke Echols/Alabama Living)

Italian tortellini salad

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 packet of dry Italian dressing
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 5 cups cheese-filled tortellini, cooked
  • 1 can 15 ounce kidney beans, well drained
  • 1 8-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can sliced ​​black olives, drained
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, basil and Italian dressing mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are well coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Makes up to 7 cups of salad.

Judy Kennet

This story originally appeared in Living in Alabama Magazine.

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