With summer heat in full swing, our family meals have shifted primarily to salads. We’ve ditched the bread to shed a few extra pounds and keep up our energy in the frenetic existence that has become our daily life. With all of this salad-making going on, sometimes I need some inspiration and I’m sure you do to! I’ve collected some of my favorite healthy summer salad recipes here and on my Pinterest board to share.
Between working (more) than full time in my husband’s new business, raising a toddler, blogging, keeping up the house and cooking nearly every meal we eat from scratch, I barely have time to rest. That’s where salad-making comes in. It saves me a lot of time because all I have to do is prep. There’s usually very little cooking involved and a salad goes a long way in using up all of the fresh veggies and fruit I keep on hand.
Do I sound a little stressed? Omg, I am. Here I am wanting to write lovingly about healthy summer salads and all I can think about is how I’m going to fit in my grocery shopping for the week in-between my son’s nap, some unexpected dinner guests—and dinner. I have to cook dinner!
Which brings me back to how awesome these healthy summer salads are. I can do a quick sauté of some shrimp, throw a bag of organic salad greens in a bowl, dice up some veggies and fruit and I’m done. The extra bonus is that I still feel full of energy after eating even though I only slept five hours the last few nights in a row. That’s important.
It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy these gorgeous, healthy summer salad recipes on a carefree day at the pool or sitting in a cubicle at the office. What matters is you enjoy the food you eat, and you take that short time to really be thankful for the delicious, fresh produce of the season. Enjoy!
All images used with permission and copyright of their respective blogs and blog owners.
Summer is mango season in Miami. Right now, trees all over the city are dripping with ripening fruit. In celebration of the coming months, I created this simple mango salad with mozzarella and mint. It features mango in all its glory, along with soft buffalo mozzarella, fresh mint and tangy pickled onions. A drizzle of good olive oil, 18 year balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh pepper are the only seasoning needed. This is the type of recipe that focuses on the quality of the ingredients instead of a lot of fuss—my favorite kind!
Mangos start ripening as early as April in Miami, depending on the species. There are hundreds of species and the different varieties continue producing until January. Peak season is during the summer months.
In July, we visit the Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This botanical garden holds the largest mango festival in the world, featuring hundreds of mango species. You can taste different mango varieties, eat mango -filled goodies and purchase fresh fruit and trees at the festival. It’s definitely a must-see for any foodie family.
Many Miami homeowners have mango trees in their backyard. We planted a dwarf mango two years ago, and this is the first year it fruited. We only harvested three little mangoes, but they were our mangoes. If you don’t have your own mango tree, this is the time of year when you wish you were friends with the grumpy neighbor who’s massive old mango tree is loaded with fruit.
The older trees bear so much fruit, many people hire pickers to come harvest the fruit from their yards; others just let it rot on the ground. If you drive through some of the old neighborhoods, you will see boxes of fruit for the taking, along with a tip jar.
Mangoes can be found cheaply throughout the city right now. You can sometimes find them in the grocery store for as little as $.25. They aren’t in as good condition as they would be straight off the tree, but for that price, I’ll take a few bruises. If you want really good prices and quality, visit the Spanish grocery stores. They get their fruit from small local producers and it is often in better condition than the fruit in the big stores.
I hope you get to try some good mangoes this year. Be sure to come by the Mango festival if you are visiting Miami in July. It’s hot, but there is plenty of good eating!
Yield: 2-4 servings
To prepare the mango, carefully remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cutting lengthwise in the direction of the seed, slice two slices from the mango. Lay the slices cut-side down and cut into thin slices.
Arrange salad greens on plates. Layer a slice of mozzarella, three slices of mango, another slice of mozzarella and three more slices of mango. Add onion and mint leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I’ve shared a lot of recipes so far on Love and Duck Fat, but I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS LONG to share this one. You see, my orzo salad recipe is legendary (in my small circle of friends and family). It has actually made an appearance once on my blog before in photos, but I never got around to posting the recipe. You can see it here at my son’s first birthday party.
Orzo salad is one of the recipes I make over and over. I serve it at parties, I pack it up for lunch, we eat it for dinner, late night snacks and even the occasional breakfast–and we never tire of it.
The inspiration for my orzo salad recipe first came from Whole Food’s orzo salad; which is good. When I lived in Boston, I regularly picked up a pint of it on my way to work. I decided to improve on their recipe, which is why this salad is so much better. I make sure that every bite has something fresh and yummy in it. The mix of tastes and textures make this orzo salad so much fun to eat. There’s feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, baby spinach, artichokes, black olives, roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar and lots of good olive oil. I mix in fresh herbs like rosemary and mint and they really amp up the flavor.
Most of these ingredients are something I keep on hand in my pantry and refrigerator at all times, so it’s easy to make this salad whenever I want. It’s also easy to customize, adding or subtracting whatever you have on hand or desire.
Once made, this orzo salad keeps well too. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and still be as good as when you first made it. Bring it to a pot luck or serve it at a barbecue this summer and see it disappear. Every time I make it, I get asked for the recipe, which is why I’m so happy to finally share it here with everyone on Love and Duck Fat.
If you do make this salad, I would love to hear how much you enjoyed it in the comment section below.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain pasta and add it to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss. Allow to cool completely.
Using a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium-high heat until they are slightly brown and fragrant.
Toss the orzo with the pine nuts, tomato, onion, herbs, artichokes, olives, feta cheese, cucumber and red pepper.
Add the spinach leaves and vinaigrette. Toss again. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Roasting vegetables has become my “thing”. It’s my go-to for cooking just about anything–like this Burrata cheese and roasted vegetable stack– because the flavors are so good. When you roast something, the flavors intensify because the liquid is released and flavors concentrate. Very little fuss is needed beyond a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil to bring out the best in any vegetable.
The opposite happens when you boil or steam a vegetable. Do it too long, and you end up with a waterlogged, bland and floppy excuse for a veggie on your plate. No wonder so many people don’t like to eat their vegetables.
Whether you love to eat your vegetables or not, this recipe will blow your mind. There’s the creamy-sweet taste of eggplant, mild zucchini and yellow squash, and an intense zing from the tomato, all combined with deliriously-buttery Burrata cheese. Combine that with a drizzle of 18-year-old Balsamic vinegar and I guarantee clean plates. It’s a Meatless Monday (or any day) recipe everyone will love. I served mine with a side of angle hair pasta tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs. It’s that simple.
It’s also a meal you will pay a good amount of money for in a good restaurant. Instead, you get to eat your roasted vegetable & Burrata cheese stack in your pajamas on the couch, while catching up on past episodes of Game of Thrones. The baby is sleeping and your husband leans over to kiss your cheek saying, “kiss the cook,” because that’s what he does every time you cook a good (or bad) meal. Who could ask for more?
More roasted vegetable recipes:
Try this Burrata appetizer recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/190 degrees C
Slice the eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini into 1/2-inch discs, crosswise. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat.
Note: You may need to use two sheet pans to roast all of the vegetables depending on size. In that case, use more olive oil. The tomatoes release a lot of liquid, so it's best to cook them separately.
Place the vegetables in the oven to roast for 20 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove the vegetables from the oven when they are lightly browned and tender. The tomatoes should be shrunken in size and collapsed. Plate them warm, or allow to cool to room temperature.
Stack the vegetables on serving plates, alternating each type so you have 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of yellow squash, 1 tomato (or 4 cherry) and 1 green onion per plate.
Slice the Burrata in half and scoop onto the stack using a spoon. Drizzle the plate with balsamic vinegar.
There was a restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts that served halibut with sherry cream sauce and I still crave it fifteen years later. They served a perfectly pan-seared filet of halibut perched on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with asparagus. The best part was the intensely-flavored sherry cream sauce. Fantastic paired with any fish or seafood; this sauce is incredibly tasty.
This is the kind of sauce that can be difficult to create at home because the secret is in the stock. In the restaurant, they had an ample supply of shrimp and lobster shells, along with celery tops, herbs and onion skins available. Boiled for an afternoon, the stock was then strained and reduced with sherry and lots of cream. The result was a heady jolt of fresh seafood flavor, along with the flavors of celery and herbs mingling with sweet sherry.
Home chefs usually don’t go to all that trouble. Who has the time? With a baby at home, I sure don’t!
With a little creativity, I managed to make a pretty close approximation of the dish with easy-to-find ingredients. It didn’t take me all day and everyone loved it. I substituted a slab of roasted cauliflower for the mashed potatoes. It’s a fun way to serve this vegetable, and a great substitute for buttery mashed potatoes.
Do you have a favorite restaurant dish you would love to make at home? Please share in the comments!
Yield: 4 servings
Heat a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Melt the butter and add the shallots and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and sherry. Add the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook on low heat until the mixture is reduced, about 10 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and cook on low heat for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pat the halibut fillets dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Add olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the halibut and cook on medium high heat until brown on the bottom, about five minutes. Flip the fillets and add the butter to the pan. Cook 2 minutes longer, tilting the pan and spooning the butter over the top of the fillets. Transfer fillets to a plate.
Okra holds a special place in my heart. I grew up eating it in the grossest way. While most people try to cook okra in a way that will make it less slimy, my mother encouraged–even reveled in it. We ate okra boiled whole in salted water. Nothing else. You ate it in a bowl with the slimy “sauce” poured on top.
Doesn’t that sound good?
My dad hated the stuff. Anyone who tried it hated the stuff, and it took me a very long time to figure out that maybe it wasn’t the okra that was so disgusting. Maybe it needed to be cooked a different way.
This recipe for roasted okra with soy and garlic glaze is simple. It doesn’t hide the okra. It actually highlights it. The sweet okra flavor is more pronounced. The texture is tender—not slimy. Each little pod is beautifully shellacked in golden soy sauce, split open to reveal the little seeds inside.
This is one of those recipes I will make over and over because it’s that good. It’s eat-the-whole-batch-yourself-good. If you are one of the few people in the world who love okra, and want your family to love it too, this is your recipe.
There are only four ingredients at work in this recipe, but one of them is a little harder to find. Dark soy sauce (you can substitute regular soy if that’s all you have). Dark soy sauce is reddish-brown in color and thick like molasses (but not sweet). You can find it in Asian markets for a few dollars. Regular soy sauce and the “light” soy sauce are thin, saltier and better for adding at the end of cooking. Dark soy sauce is better for slow cooking and for giving sauces deep color and flavor. You can spoon it over roasts or duck to form a beautiful glaze. It works well with vegetables, too because it “sticks” better.
Let me know if you give this recipe a try. I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to hear your favorite way to eat okra. Please share!
Wash and dry okra. Cut off the hard stem and “head” of larger okra. Slice lengthwise. On a large sheet pan, mix okra, olive oil, soy sauce and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer and roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping twice, until okra is tender and rich brown on the edges. Taste and sprinkle with salt if necessary. Serve warm.