Vanessa Salads.jpeg

This nutritious and hearty quinoa salad is high in fiber and can easily help one get in their daily vegetable intake. 

Salads are more than just romaine lettuce and a few veggies. They’re customizable and can include fruits, vegetables and proteins of one’s choice. Not only are salads healthy, but they’re light, refreshing and good to eat in the summer heat. Here are five tasty salads to make that are anything but boring. 

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa has many health benefits. It’s high in fiber, high in protein and contains a substantial amount of antioxidants. Quinoa blends nicely with chopped vegetables and can create the perfect summer salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, cooked with broth

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 2 cups roasted corn kernels 

  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved 

  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced

  • ½ cup peppers, diced 

  • 1 avocado, cut into ½ inch pieces 

  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped 

  • Zest of 1 lime

  • ¼ cup olive oil 

  • ¾ cup cilantro salad dressing

  • Sea salt and pepper 

Instructions:

Cook the quinoa with chicken or vegetable broth, following package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, combine the corn kernels, black beans, avocado pieces, halved tomatoes, chopped onion and diced pepper in a separate bowl. Pour the cilantro dressing on top and toss. Add salt, pepper and lime on top. Top off with cilantro and toss again. Set aside.

Once the quinoa is cooked, add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool. Combine the cooked quinoa with all other ingredients previously mixed in a large bowl. 

Tuna Poke and Mango Salad 

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish, but unlike the popular poke bowl that’s made with sushi rice, this salad focuses on the tuna and mango. The sweet flavor of mango works well with the spiciness of the wasabi and saltiness of the tuna.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • ½ teaspoon prepared wasabi

  • 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce 

  • ½ cup seaweed salad 

  • ½ teaspoon black sesame seeds 

  • 2-3 cups loosely packed spring lettuce mix

  • 4 ounces sushi-grade tuna chopped in large chunks

  • ½ mango chopped in large chunks

  • ½ sliced avocado 

  • ¼ teaspoon pink Hawaiian sea salt 

Instructions:

Whisk the oil, wasabi and ponzu sauce in a small bowl until blended. In another bowl, combine the tuna, seaweed salad and mango and pour a teaspoon of the dressing onto the mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. 

In a separate bowl, combine the avocado and lettuce and top with the tuna mixture. Pour more dressing if desired and add a dash of Hawaiian sea salt and additional sesame seeds. Serve right away. 

Mediterranean Salad

This salad is light and flavorful and has all the veggies one can get in a single meal. The sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese add a nice touch. Sun-dried tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, and feta cheese is high in calcium, which benefits bone health. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced 

  • ½ cup black olives, sliced

  • 1 medium cucumber, diced

  • 1 cup red onion, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled

  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and black pepper 

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, black olives, cucumber pieces, red onion, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad mixture, toss gently and add fresh parsley to finish.

Chicken Avocado Caprese Salad 

This salad is refreshing for hot summer days. It’s nutritious and delicious. Avocados have potassium and fatty acids, tomatoes are high in antioxidants and chicken is rich in protein. 

Ingredients for marinade and/or dressing:

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 

Ingredients for salad: 

  • 4 chicken thigh filets, skin removed

  • 5 cups lettuce leaves, washed and dried

  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 avocado, sliced

  • ½ cup mini mozzarella/bocconcini cheese balls

  • ¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

  • Salt and pepper to season 

Instructions:

Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Place the skinned chicken on a dish and drizzle four tablespoons of the marinade onto it so it’s evenly coated. Leave the rest of the marinade to use as dressing later on.

Heat oil in a pan or skillet over medium-high heat and grill the chicken on each side until golden brown. Let the chicken cool onto its side when it’s done cooking. After a few minutes, cut the chicken into strips and combine the lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella cheese and chicken. Sprinkle basil on top, add the remaining dressing and season it with salt and pepper. 

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette 

This salad is a great meatless option for a light lunch or dinner. Kale is a superfood that’s worth adding to one’s diet. It’s loaded with antioxidants, is one of the best sources of vitamin K and is proven to help lower cholesterol. Kale may have a bitter taste, but the lemon vinaigrette adds a nice flavor that makes the salad more enjoyable. 

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup olive oil 

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 3 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice 

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Ingredients for salad:

  • 4 cups chopped kale

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa

  • 1 avocado, diced

  • ½ cup pomegranate arils

  • ½ cup chopped pecans

  • ¼ crumbled goat cheese 

Instructions:

Combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl to mix the vinaigrette, then set aside. Throw kale in a large bowl and add the diced avocado, cooked quinoa, pomegranate arils, pecans and goat cheese. Toss the bowl lightly to mix all ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and gently mix it once more. 

Contact Vanessa Nikolic at nikolivx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.