Cool salad for a hot day!

What to eat when it's 95 degrees outside and 60 percent humidity?! I know when I get home the in the dog days of summer, the last thing I want to think about is cooking. I don't know about you, but the hotter it gets the less I want to eat... finding something that is light, healthy and appeals to heat-wilted taste buds is a bit of a challenge. I find that in summer we often choose a protein that can be cooked on the grill (avoid heating up the kitchen) and a large salad.

For me, making a salad that has surprising and different flavors is a challenge and you know I love the opportunity to play with food. This led to my previously posted roasted beet salad, which is a rich and delicious salad that can become a main dish. The down side is that beet-roasting takes about 45 minutes of oven time, which is not that appealing during June in Hampton Roads. So I have had to experiment with some new twists on salads to keep my family interested and I am going to let you in on the results of my experimentation so you can escape the heat of the day with a cool salad. These are less recipes than formulas for a salad that is a delicious respite on these hot days. So grab some greens... and go!

Tex-Mex Salad

2 heads romaine or iceberg lettuce, torn into pieces
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 red onion chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 ounces cheese cut in chunks (pepper jack, cheddar, queso fresco are all good choices)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh are great (good use for leftover corn on the cob) but canned or frozen work well too), drained

Toss all ingredients together. If you have leftover chicken or other meat, you could add to make the salad heartier but with the cheese and beans, no meat is needed. I serve this with a dressing made of 1/2 cup of ranch dressing mixed with 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning mix (I know it's gauche, but my family loves it! You could toss a vinaigrette with cumin and smoked chipotle chili powder as an alternative)

Salad with Dried Blueberries

2 heads of butter lettuce (I love the delicate taste of this), torn into pieces

2 whole ripe pears (if you can find them) peeled and sliced or 1 can pear slices, drained

4 ounces goat cheese or blue cheese (my personal favorite, but brie would also be great) broken into pieces

1/4 cup broken walnuts

1/2 cup dried blueberries


1/2 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tsp sugar or 1 packet of Splenda (for diabetic husband)

Toss all salad ingredients. Shake all ingredients together until smooth. Toss salad with dressing.
You could make a simple raspberry vinaigrette for this but the creaminess of this dressing with the acidic kick of raspberry vinegar is delish!


Lindsey said…
I love salad! Have you ever tried dried black currants? I found some at Trader Joe's and used them in a similar salad instead of using the blueberries--and I love blueberries. It was very interesting. Everyone thought they were blueberries.

Thanks for you comment on my blog. I have never seen frozen grapefruit concentrate. Where do you get it? I think it would be interesting to try it out. I love the bitterness of grapefruit. I think it would work well. Thanks for the idea!
C'tina said…
Refreshing topic! I love pears and blue cheese.
One of my favorites is
Kristen said…
That Tex Mex salad sounds divine! Oh yum.
s'kat said…
We've been doing a lot of salads lately as well. Chicken pasta, crab, blt, etc. What could be more perfect?
Deborah Dowd said…
Lindsey- I need to look at Trader Joes for black currants, I have never tried them. Usually you can find frozen grapefruit juice concentrate where the frozen orange juice is.

c'tina- Thanks for the tip!

Kristen- It can easily become a main dish,which is great for the summer!

Shelley- And we haven't even gotten to the hottest part of the summer yet!
ArtfulSub said…
Looks yummy. Have you entered the grand Salad Contest yet? Link below:

I'd say you have a good shot at Second Place.
LĂ­dia said…
Hi Deborah,
I loved your ideas, specially the Tex Mex. I will try it one of these days. It's very hot here too...

For that tex mex salad you should try adding fried corn tortilla strips for an extra crunch :)
Deborah Dowd said…
Artful-anks for the good words and the link!

Lidia- I would love to hear more about what life is like where you live...since I have neither time or money to travel, it is a geat way to experience other cultures!

CFG- Thanks, I hadn't thought of that... and avocado, which I love!
JMom said…
it is definitely salad time again. I like both salads you posted. They both sound delicious!
Deborah Dowd said…
JMom- Thanks for stopping by, and give these two a try on a hot summer day!