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Celebrating Summer with Delicious Salads

Veggiecurean Newsletter — Vol. 10 — July 2020

My favorite thing about living in a city with four seasons is the availability of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Shopping according to the seasons means supporting your local farmers, saving money (produce in season is bountiful and therefore costs less), and best of all eating the best-tasting produce in their respective seasons rather than being imported from other countries in off-seasons. In season, produce is picked when it’s fully ripe then stored for a short period of time; not in season, produce is picked well before it’s ripe so that it can withstand storage and traveling long distances.

Summer produce in particular is my favorite and, in my opinion, worth waiting for — basil, fresh corn, berries of all kinds, tomatoes, watermelon, avocados, green beans, and radishes, to name a few! Other more exotic summer fruits and vegetables to snatch up at your local farmers market include zucchini blossoms, cherimoya, morel mushrooms, cucamelons, pea shoots, and white strawberries. Just take a walk around the market and you’ll be amazed by the amount of variety you can find; taste a fresh raspberry and discover how it tastes nothing like the ones you buy at the store. Sometimes I get a little too excited at the farmers market and buy a ton of produce that I need to create recipes for before it goes bad, which is how I came up with many of my summer salad recipes. These quick recipes are simple ways to consume summer’s bounty without turning on the oven. Whether you’re looking to add more plant-based meals into your life or just want some salad inspiration, Veggiecurean has you covered with satisfying salad recipes that will leave you full and happy.

On cold winter nights, I aim to create hearty salad recipes that brighten up the dinner table with a colorful mix of root vegetables (especially sweet potatoes), squashes, dark leafy greens, and winter fruit such as pomegranate seeds for a sweet-tart contrast. While totally delicious, winter salads are often time-consuming and require sauce pans, baking sheets, and a hot oven. When the plants and flowers start to blossom and the days become longer, I prefer to be outside with my family rather than in the kitchen, so I look to easy no-cook recipes I can simply toss together using seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you’re in the mood for something a little more filling than a standard salad, try adding noodles or tofu like in my Pad Thai Salad Bowl. This colorful salad makes it easy to load up on fresh raw summer veggies including red bell peppers, snap peas, radishes, carrots, and cabbage, and is served with easy-to-cook rice noodles. Smothered with a creamy peanut butter sauce that you’ll want to drizzle on just about everything, this dish will make you rethink any boring salad you’ve ever had!

Salads with tender baby greens are specials treat that are easy to put together, nutritious, and make for a delicious lunch or dinner. They’re also low in calories (just nine calories per cup!) and are a great source of micronutrients and fiber. The darker the leaves, the more beta carotene (Vitamin A) and phytochemicals, which are antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. To get the most nutritional benefit from salad greens, consume them as fresh as possible.

Furthermore, there’s nothing more refreshing than fresh fruit in a salad. Fruit adds sweetness and tartness to savory salads, and they’re even more tasty when topped with nuts. Fresh slivers of peaches and blood oranges, a handful of blueberries, and diced apples can really transform a salad with leafy greens.

My Kale Berry Salad is proof that adding fresh berries and mango can really elevate a simple kale salad. Berries in the summertime are so much sweeter and delectable than their year-round counterparts, so I decided to throw every berry I know into this salad: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. This high-antioxidant dish is so colorful and full of texture, you’ll forget you’re eating a salad!

The flavor and freshness of ripe summer fruits tends to be enough, but you can take it a step further and grill your fruit. Flavors become even more intense as the fruits caramelize and become even more naturally sweet; it’s almost like dessert! Plus, the grill marks make for a beautiful, Instagram-worthy shot.

I have such an appreciation for the taste of fresh fruit that I even started pureeing them and adding that to my salad dressings. Homemade salad dressings are actually pretty easy to make — all you need is a bowl and a whisk, or a blender if you want to make it smoother. They’re also good for you and can turn your salad into a healthy immune booster. Try my Mango Ginger Dressing for a sweet and spicy flavor with a beautiful orange color. Juicy and ripe mango is so sweet in the summertime; it’s the perfect natural sweetener for salad dressing.

Another lovely yet simple salad combination I always turn to is my nutrient-packed Raspberry Spinach Salad, topped with crunchy nuts and tossed with a homemade tangy raspberry vinaigrette. The common rule for a basic vinaigrette is a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, but we don’t do “basic” at Veggiecurean so I added some minced shallots and fresh raspberry puree for a colorful and bright flavor to balance out the vinegar. Too many raspberries in this salad now, you say? Try it and you’ll see just how delicious it is!

So go ahead and celebrate the season of fresh produce from the garden with some of my delicious summer salad recipes. From green salads to noodle salads to fruity dressings, these dishes are perfect for picnics (just pack them up in a Mason jar), serving as a side, or enjoying them as a complete entree for lunch or a light dinner.

Pad Thai Salad Bowl
Raspberry Spinach Salad
Summer Berry Kale Salad
Summer Salad with Mango Ginger Dressing

Happy summer!
–Shikha, Veggiecurean