Salads are perfect for summer when many people would like to keep complicated preparations and cooking time to a minimum. Unfortunately, after a few days of the same old greens, salads can stop being exciting and turn into yet another humdrum dining experience. Who says you have to play by the rules of basic greens and typical add-ins? Turn your typical salad on its head with some of these fun recipes and tips that combine lots of good-for-you foods for tasty dishes that are anything but boring.
I thought my love affair with veggies at breakfast would mainly revolve around The Pioneer Woman’s Carb Buster Breakfast. Oh, readers, I was so wrong. That delicious dish was just the beginning. Thanks to Gina Eykemans, creator of the blog So…Let’s Hang Out, I am now incorporating breakfast salads into my life as well. It’s such a smart idea. Why limit salads to lunch and dinner when you can enjoy plant power all day long? Eykemans’ recipe for what she calls her “gateway breakfast salad,” BLT Breakfast Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs and Avocado is a no-brainer. Bacon and eggs are a classic combination, and these breakfast staples take on a whole new feel when combined with vibrant kale dressed in a tangy vinaigrette. This salad is a bit time-consuming but easy to make; try it for a lovely Sunday brunch. Cooking Light is in on the trend, too, with this simple Fried Egg and Rye Breakfast Salad that is a bit easier to whip up. If you’re missing the bread with your BLT salad, try sprinkling your kale with some toasted bread crumbs à la Cooking Light’s recipe. Ready to try building your own breakfast salads from scratch? Check out the Cooking Light recipe above as well as Eykemans’ tips for creating breakfast salads at The Kitchn for even more ideas.
Sometimes, salads aren’t all about the greens. If you’re craving a more substantial dish, try this Lentil and Rice Salad from Food Network icon Giada De Laurentiis. It is the perfect meal for summer, studded with onions, carrots and olives and dressed with fruity olive oil and fragrant lemon zest. It also tastes even better the next day, as all the flavors mingle and the lemon zest has time to permeate the entire dish. This salad is easily adaptable. Though the recipe calls for white rice, I used brown rice, and it gave the dish an earthy, slightly nutty flavor. Be sure to cook your brown rice using the directions on the package for guidance so you don’t end up with uneven or undercooked rice. Vegetarians can use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. This salad is delicious as is, but it’s also a wonderful base for yummy summer vegetables and a number of add-ins. I took my leftovers and dressed them up using some of the ideas below, which made for a great balance of flavors. The veggies and toppings retained their wonderful textures without overpowering the brightness of the lentils and rice.
Take a cue from the Green Powerhouse Pesto Plate recipe at Oh She Glows and top your lentil rice salad with zucchini and a creamy pesto, or try some of the components from the Lentils with Garden Vegetables, Avocado, Walnuts and Hummus recipe at Bev Cooks. If you’re not a fan of walnuts, dry roasted almonds work as well. And, of course, cheese is always welcome to the party, as seen in the Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus and Spinach recipe from Green Valley Kitchen. (Serious question: is there anything feta can’t fix? Asking for a friend.)
Speaking of feta, the salty, crumbly cheese is a stunner in Cookin’ Canuck’s recipe for Quinoa, Blueberry and Avocado Salad. This salad is a bonanza of textures and flavors. Sweet, salty, savory, tangy, creamy, and chewy—the bases are all covered here. The dressing in this recipe calls for lime juice, but I substituted that with lemon because that’s what I had on hand, and it worked just fine. This is a light, bright, beautiful salad bursting with freshness.
If this recipe whets your appetite for even more salads with fruit, check out HellaWella’s round up of 9 ways to add fruit to your salads.
Let these inspired dishes spark your creativity and help you take your salad game to the next level.