Refreshing summer salads

There’s nothing wrong with half an iceberg lettuce and some chunks of cucumber thrown together in a bowl with a glug of olive oil.

However, if you’re looking to stealthily up your household’s veg intake over the summer months, it’s time to expand your salad game.

Start with one of these four salad building blocks, and the barbecue sides might just end up gone before the burgers.

1. One with zucchinis

Zucchinis are brilliantly versatile, which comes in handy considering they’re so abundant during summer. Slice them thinly and grill on the barbecue before dressing with mint, chilli and olive oil, then eat at room temperature; grate them raw and douse in a mustardy dressing; or pickle slices with dill and lemon for crunch and zing.

Here’s a quick Mediterranean grilled zucchini salad to try:

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchini squash, sliced into rounds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup packed chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • feta or goats’ cheese, optional

Method

  1. Place the zucchini into a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with cumin. Toss to combine.
  2. Heat a grill or griddle until hot, add zucchini in batches (do not crowd). Grill for 4 minutes or so, turning over a couple of times until zucchini is cooked through and perfectly charred.
  3. Transfer grilled zucchini back to the bowl. Add lemon juice, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add fresh herbs and toss again gently.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and top with a sprinkle of feta or goats’ cheese, if you like. Serve at room temperature.

2. One with corn on the cob

You may usually just slather some butter on corn on the cob before gnawing on it, but you can also make a great Mexican-style salad. Grill it whole before slicing the kernels off and topping with feta, chilli and crispy onions; add coriander leaves, sliced cherry tomatoes and half-moons of red onion to just-charred corn; or lace couscous with corn, radishes, cumin, lime juice and chargrilled peppers.

Mexican-style corn salad

Ingredients

  • 2 corn cobs, grilled
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes deseeded and finely diced
  • small handful coriander, roughly chopped
  • juice 2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Method

  1. Combine the sweetcorn, onion, tomatoes and coriander in a large bowl. Make the dressing by whisking the lime juice into the olive oil and add the honey. Season to taste and pour over the corn salad. Toss to coat everything before serving.

3. One with watermelon

Grab yourself a watermelon and you’ve got a base for more than fruit salad. Toss chunks of it with handfuls of feta and rocket; chop and mix with equal parts diced cucumber and scatter with mint; or grill it, douse with fresh lime juice and drizzle with balsamic.

4. One with stone fruit

Have you grilled peaches or nectarines before? It brings out all their sweetness, especially when nabbing perfectly ripe ones can be tricky. Mingle salad leaves, avocado slices and bites of nectarine; grill peaches and serve with runner beans and goats’ cheese; or drape Parma ham over slivers of both and stuff in your mouth with mozzarella.

Grilled stone fruit salad with mint honey vinaigrette

Ingredients
For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

For the salad:

  • 6 cups greens (spinach, rocket and swiss chard), packed
  • 2 apricots, skin on
  • 1 large peach, skin on
  • 1 large nectarine, skin on
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, raw

Method
Prepare the vinaigrette:

  1. Add the ingredients to a blender and blend on high until emulsified, but some flecks of mint still remain.
  2. Pour into a jar or dish with a lid, and store at room temperature until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:

  1. Grill fruit, covered, on a greased grill rack over medium-high direct heat 46 minutes. Turn and grill, uncovered until fruit is tender but not mushy 46 more minutes. Remove from heat; cool 510 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut fruit into quarters.
  2. In a large bowl, add the greens and top with the stone fruit slices, feta and almonds. Add the vinaigrette, toss and serve.

Are salads a staple in your house? What is your favourite summer dish to make?

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