Say ooh la la to summer with sophisticated salads
We don’t call it “Vacationland” for nothing. As Mainers, we know better than most that the warmer spring and summer months are host to myriad opportunities for outdoor fun. It’s a time of year that calls for us to come out and play. Cooking complicated meals might just be the last thing on your to-do list.
Who says fast food can’t be healthy? That’s where nutritious and colorful salads come in. Supper salads are the perfect solutions to eating healthy with as little fuss as possible.
⇓ Salade Niçoise
Our first contender, Salade Niçoise, is loaded with wholesome ingredients and topped with a flavorful dressing. Protein can come in the form of fresh grilled salmon or a convenient can or two of your favorite brand of tuna. You can even try this dish with lobster, shrimp, tofu or tempeh.
For the dressing
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
1 head frisée lettuce
1–2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 ounces haricots verts (blanched)
4 ounces tiny new potatoes, cooked with skin on (I use red and purple for color)
2 tablespoons capers (I use a few very large caper berries for dramatic effect)
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup niçoise olives (or any black pitted olives)
1 pound grilled salmon or two 8-ounce cans premium white Albacore tuna, flaked
Whisk ingredients for dressing together and set aside. (I use my mini food processor for a well-blended dressing. I also double the recipe and use this tasty vinaigrette on salads for days.)
Compose your salad for maximum beauty and effect. Let your inner artist create a culinary masterpiece.
Salade Niçoise Pro Tips
• There are no hard and fast rules for this dish. Use your favorite lettuce—Boston or bib, romaine or radicchio, arugula or mâche.
• While tuna is traditional, other fish choices also work well. Salmon adds flavor or color. Lobster makes it uniquely Maine. And if you’re following a plant-based diet, even tofu will shine in this salad.
• Potatoes add a hearty element to the dish. I like to use the smallest, most tender new potatoes to enhance the light theme of the salad.
• I like to make a big batch of blanched green beans or haricot verts at the beginning of the week. They’re a great addition to almost any salad, but they’re also a tasty snack, plain or dipped in your favorite salad dressing.
• If you’re a fan, adding anchovy fillets to the salad really imparts an authentic, flavorful pop.
⇓ Light & Luscious Fruit Salad
This dish is so beautiful; it makes a spectacular and easy-to-prepare supper or lunch for unexpected guests.
Bite-sized pieces of your favorite seasonal fruits
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup local honey
Juice and zest of one lime
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped, and leaves for garnish
Combine yogurt, honey and lime juice with zest in a bowl. Dollop dressing on each serving of fruit. You can double the dressing recipe and make a colorful parfait by layering fruit and yogurt dressing in stemmed glass for a more elegant presentation. Garnish with mint.
Fruit salad is a tasty accompaniment to lunch or dinner or a healthy and refreshing afternoon snack.
Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Follow her on Instagram: @candacekaru or at candacekaru.com.