[ Make A Summer Salad Splash ] ~ from MB Spice Co [ The Story of BBQ ]
Summer get-togethers beg for simple culinary fare. What fits the bill better than the all-in-one-dish and ready-to-eat salad? While the classic lettuce and tomato combo has a reservation at the table year-round, there are so many more ways to experience salad — especially while summer fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking.

When you think about it, the salad is like the summer equivalent of the winter casserole — it may contain any combination of pasta, vegetables, beans, grains, meat and cheese, either mixed together or piled in layers. The advantage of the salad, however, is that it can be served hot or cold and show up to the party "dressed" in a saucy concoction that varies between savory, spicy, salty or sweet. Similarly, while the casserole is usually the main attraction at the table, a salad can be served as an appetizer, a side dish or even as an unexpected ending to a great meal.

Salad, the modern English word adapted from the French “salade,” was commonly found at the dinner table in ancient Rome and Greece, although it was likely called "sallet." At this point, the dish was largely a pile of leafy greens moistened with brine or vinegar. By the 17th century, the standard green salad become much more interesting for the peasantry and nobility alike. The Renaissance salad typically consisted of greens as a base and all manner of leftover meats and fish, chopped boiled egg, bits of cheese and a variety of fresh or dried herbs. This salad was known as "salmagundi," a name once again inspired from the French "salmigondis," which refers to any collection of things. Over time, this word morphed into "Solomon Grundy" and the dish became more specialized as a spicy fish pâté that is still very popular throughout the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica. The original medieval potpourri version of salad is forever preserved in American culture and known today as chef’s salad.

a. five tips for making great summer salads

  • Get to know your local organic farmers. Buying seasonal produce locally not only supports your community, but also ensures fresher food because it hasn’t been touring the countryside or highway for days to get to the supermarket.

  • Introduce meats to marinade. When adding grilled chicken or steak to a salad, marinade before cooking. In addition to adding flavor, marinade helps to cut down on rogue carcinogens created by glycation, the process that causes foods to brown.

  • Clean your greens. Take the extra time to wash and prep salad greens and veggies when you bring them home from the store. This makes several days’ worth of salad ready to grab from the fridge and also reduces waste.

  • Think about texture. Everybody loves crunch! It's even better when salads combine creamy and crispy textures, like avocado slices or crumbled feta cheese with sunflower seeds or walnuts.

  • Store vegetables and fruits correctly. While salad greens and many other vegetables need refrigeration to retain freshness, tomatoes prefer to hang out in a bowl on the counter. Take a cue from the store or farmer’s market bin where the produce was purchased – if the item was cold when you picked it up to put in your basket, then refrigerate it when you get home.

b. some herbs suggestions for your summer salads
Parsley. With a bright "green" flavor profile, it's no wonder that parsley is the most popular culinary herb in the world. The fresh sprigs have been used as garnish since Apicius served gourmet meals to Tiberius in ancient Rome. Today, we enjoy the dried herb as well, which has more intense flavor and blends with anything edible under the sun.

Dill. Dill "weed" is a term used to refer to the feathery leaf of the herb to distinguish it from dill seed. Also known as Lao cilantro, dill is named after "dylle," a Norwegian word that means "to lull." While the seeds are reminiscent of caraway in flavor, the fresh taste of dill weed is similar to fennel leaves. Sprinkle dill liberally in salads to brighten flavors, especially those that contain egg, chicken, potatoes or cheese.

Paprika. This spice, made from the fruit of various peppers, may be sweet or spicy, depending on the region it is produced. Most grades of paprika have a mild to medium pungency and a vibrant color ranging from deep sienna to bright red. Paprika pairs beautifully with salads made with vegetables, eggs, cheese, fish and sweet fruits.

Basil. Sweet basil is a member of the mint family originally native to India but now widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and Asia. The sweet, pungent and slightly warm flavor is a mainstay in Italian, Asian and Indian cuisines. The flavor profile of basil complements many salads, most notably dishes that contain tomato, eggplant, squash, zucchini and peppers.

Fennel. Fennel seed is often the secret ingredient that makes the dish special and keeps everyone guessing. Add the crushed seeds to citrus dressings and to salads and slaws when an Indian and Middle Eastern flavor is desired. The mild anise-like flavor goes well with cumin, cinnamon, basil and mint.

Grilling Tips
Grilling Tips

Check out our Pinterest board for more Summer Salad Recipes
[ Summertime Salads ]