Sensational Summer Salads

As the weather warms and fresh produce beckons from supermarket shelves, it’s time to try a few new salad combinations. Salads are an easy way to increase your daily fruit and vegetable count. I prefer to make my own dressing as I can use fresh ingredients and control the calorie content.

Here are a few of my favorite salad combinations. To make the salad a meal, top with a low-fat protein such as grilled chicken breast, shrimp, tuna or thinly-sliced sirloin or tenderloin steak. Recipes for dressings follow the list of suggestions.

1. Spinach, sliced strawberries and toasted pecans (toast in a 350° oven for 5 minutes) with balsamic vinaigrette.

2. Field greens, raspberries, diced and seeded cucumbers with raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

3. Boston butter lettuce, walnuts, dried cranberries and store-bought, low-fat blue cheese dressing.

3. Field greens, sliced pears, blue cheese, and candied walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette.

4. Spinach, fresh or canned peaches, sliced almonds and creamy peach dressing.

5. Spinach, sliced strawberries and orange poppy seed dressing.

6. Romaine, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, sliced red onion, cucumber, and feta cheese with Greek dressing.

7. Iceberg lettuce cut into wedges with bacon bits and store-bought, low-fat Ranch dressing.

8. Spinach, fresh orange slices and balsamic vinaigrette.

9. Field greens, sliced red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes with honey mustard dressing.

10. Romaine, tomatoes, black olives, sliced red onion, pepperoncinis, croutons and grated Parmesan cheese with Italian dressing (I like the lighter version on the Good Seasons dressing packets).

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. This makes enough dressing for 4-5 salads:

¼ cup balsamic vinegar (or use raspberry balsamic, white balsamic, etc.)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. white wine (you can skip this)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Creamy Peach Dressing

This recipe isn’t very precise as it depends on how many salads you are making, but it is so delicious over the spinach, peach and almond salad.

¼ – ½ tub lowfat cream cheese spread
Juice from canned peaches
Allow the cream cheese to soften, then slowly whisk in enough canned peach juice until the dressing is thin enough to pour over the salad.

Orange Poppyseed Dressing

1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
¼ orange juice (fresh or from a carton)
1 tsp. poppy seeds
In a small bowl, slowly whisk in orange juice into mayo. (Don’t add all at once or it will be lumpy.) Stir in poppy seeds. You may have to adjust the amount of orange juice to get the consistency you like in the dressing.

Greek Dressing

¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried dill
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (you can skip this)
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. You can also use fresh herbs if you have them on hand.

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
2 ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 ½ Tbsp. coarse grain mustard
1 ½ Tbsp. rice vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl with a wire whisk. Chill before serving.

Copyright 2012 Peggy Bowes

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