Salad Days: Easy Main Dish Salads

July 6, 2008 at 10:42 pm 6 comments

When the weather changes, I’ve noticed that my appetite does as well. When it’s hot and humid, a bowl of steaming chili is simply not appealing to me. Spaghetti and meat sauce? Not so much. Chicken noodle soup? Not unless I’m recovering from some ailment…which, thankfully, seldom happens in warmer months.

What generally does hit the spot during hot weather is a cool, crisp salad. I still want to feel that I’ve eaten, and not be hungry an hour later — I don’t know anyone who can make it through the summer on “rabbit food.”  But it’s a great time to take advantage of all the seasonal produce at the stores and local markets to make healthy, fresh salads that don’t heat up the kitchen. Here are some easy, main dish salads that are perfect for the season. Pair them with a good loaf of bread and the drink of your choice and head out to the deck for dinner.

California Club Salad

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (if you have some leftover from grilling or roasting, that’s perfect)
2 hard-boiled eggs
4 bacon slices, cooked till crisp and crumbled
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 avocado, sliced
1 1/2 quarts lettuce (romaine or green leaf), torn into bite-sized pieces
Blue cheese dressing

Divide lettuce between four plates. Divide chicken and all other ingredients evenly between plate. Top with blue cheese dressing and serve.

Waterfront Tuna Salad

1 7-ounce can tuna, drained
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 pound fresh green beans
2 cups lettuce (green or red leaf, romaine, or butter) torn into pieces
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and diced
1 medium potato, cooked and cubes
1/2 basket cherry or grape tomatoes
Mustard dressing (recipe below)

Combine tuna, sour cream (or yogurt) and lemon juice; set aside. Cut beans into bite-sized pieces and steam in a small amount of water for 8 to 10 minutes, till tender crisp. Drain.

Divide lettuce between two salad bowls. Scoop tuna mixture into center and surround with beans, egg, potato, and tomatoes. Drizzle with mustard dressing.

Mustard dressing: Combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon prepared mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon salt with 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil in blender. Whirl until smooth and thickened.

Mexican Beef Salad

1 pound round steak, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced in thin rings
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
(Note to beginning cooks: If you don’t have every one of these herbs and spices in your cupboard, never fear! The real essentials here are chili powder and oregano. This salad will be just as tasty with those minimal seasonings.)
3 tablespoons vinegar (balsamic or cider vinegar can be used)
6 cups lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup black olives, sliced

In skillet, brown round steak strips in oil. Transfer meat to bowl and top with onion and bell pepper rings. Cover bowl and refrigerate.

To skillet drippings, add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano,  and red pepper. Heat through, then remove from heat and add vinegar. Pour into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate 3 hours.

Divide lettuce between four plates. Toss meat mixture with cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese and black olives. Top with meat mixture and drizzle dressing over to serve.


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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Judy Ferril  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Mary,
    Yep – summertime is so much salad time. The Waterfront Tuna salad is a nice variation of a Nicoise salad – one of my favorites.

    Thank you for the great salad ideas! By the way, I love the new photo on our header – looks homey and inviting.

    Take care,

  • 2. Judy Ferril  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    sorry should be your header – it is Monday morning what can I say!


  • 3. Suzanne  |  July 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    Yum! I can’t wait to try these. I think I have everything on hand for the Waterfront Tuna Salad – so that just might be lunch today.


    Suzanne Lieurance
    The Working Writer’s Coach
    “When Your Pen Won’t Budge, Read The Morning Nudge”

  • 4. Theresa  |  July 7, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Mary,

    More great recipe ideas! You have a very nice writing style, I look forward to reading your articles in the national magazines.


  • 5. Carma Dutra  |  July 7, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Hey Mary

    Thanks for the recipes. I am going to print them out and make that tuna salad. Yum


  • 6. Lisa Kirby  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:26 am


    Thank you for the recipes… I’ll be having the Mexican Beef Salad this week for sure. Sounds delicious!

    Lisa Kirby

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