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Cool and Easy Summertime Dining

with One-Bowl Supper Salads

by Linda Gabris RSS

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My grandma used to say that the best way to cool the body down and beat the summer heat was to toss up a light, bright refreshing salad. And when it comes to salads, I can vouch for grandma’s endless array of ‘one bowl’ specialities that fit the bill perfectly as the main meal of the day!

Come warmer weather I, like grandma, find it’s time to put away my stew pots and get out my favourite salad bowls, tongs and cruets. These come in handy for the long, leisurely, salad season when garden produce is at it’s finest.

One of the main features in many salad bowls is a base of crisp greenery. Since there are so many delectable salad greens to choose from, I never worry about serving the ‘same old bowl’ twice! I like to work with whatever organic picks that my garden or local vegetable market are producing – everything from spinach and beet tops to Swiss chard and all kinds of lettuces (iceberg, Romaine, endive, loose-leaf), as well as kale and red and green cabbage that add colour and crunch to the bowl.

And then there are the wild greens such as dandelion leaves, lamb’s quarters, chickweed, and fireweed (but do remember to harvest in areas that are free of pesticides, herbicides and road dust).

Lettuces and other greens are a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals essential for good health and well being. They contain powerful antioxidants and, according to notes recorded in grandma’s old doctoring journals, help to build strong teeth and bones as well as keeping the mind alert. A diet rich in greenery is also known to help prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and various types of cancers.  

After the leafy greens have been chosen, the next thing to consider when tossing a main course meal is a good dose of protein, needed to build and maintain strong muscles because we all know summer is one of the biggest energy-burning seasons of the year!

Some of my top picks for protein are halibut or other lean fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, grains, and last but not least by any means – beans and lentils, which were grandma's number one favourites for packing protein and punch into the bowl.

And  “salad dressings,” as grandma used to say, “are meant for drizzling not drowning,” which is why I often use a cruet set, especially when featuring simple tossed green salads, as this allows everyone to splash as little or as much as they desire. When using a cruet set, I like to fill one container with extra virgin olive oil (which is always my chosen oil for salads) and the other container with vinegar (organic apple cider, balsamic, red or white wine vinegars are much healthier choices than plain white distilled vinegar). For endless variety, I often infuse the oil and/or the vinegars with herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, fruits, berries or anything else that tickles my fancy!

So now let’s toss up a few salads. Do remember these are mere ideas for the bowl and all measures are given loosely. Grandma’s old motto was to use whatever you have in amounts to suit your own tastes to a tee! When serving salads as the main course, then the only extra thing needed is a basket of crusty rolls. Recipes below serve 4 to 6 people.

Tex Mex Veggie-Grain Salad combines black beans, corn, and peppers to create a hearty and delicious gluten-free summer meal in a bowl

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Sometimes I make this with barley as below, other times with wheat berries, coloured quinoa, or rice. Or I use a mixture of whatever cooked grains I might have lingering in the fridge or freezer – bits of leftovers saved from other recipes. They’re great in salads!

Ingredients:

  • The Salad
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels (frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 stick sliced celery
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1 cup whole grape tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • The Dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
Mixed Bean and Kale Salad

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Like grandma, I prefer to use dried beans that I cook myself because they are more economical than store-bought canned beans and have a firmer texture, but you can use canned beans if you’d rather. A thrifty tip is to cook a big batch of mixed beans in one shot, divvy them up into zip-lock freezer bags and freeze, especially handy for salad making. This makes a wonderful picnic salad because it really does taste better after it has had time to chill out, which not only allows the beans to draw in the flavours of the dressing, but also helps to soften the kale a little.

Ingredients:

  • Making the Salad
  • 4 cups washed, shredded kale (or other green of choice)
  • 2 cups (more or less) of mixed, cooked, drained beans (chickpeas, kidney, lima, pinto and black are some of my favourites)
  • 1 sliced red onion
  • 2 shredded carrots
  • 1 chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup organic golden raisins (optional)
  • (Ed note: Raw kale can be hard to digest, so feel free to steam or stir-fry it first if needed for increased palatability.)
  • Making the Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon or two of whole coriander seeds or a pinch of ground coriander

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Homemade chickpea pasta makes a delicious gluten-free salad and the good news is – it’s super easy to make; and even better news is – it doesn’t go soggy in the salad bowl! A perfect salad to make during prime tomato season!

Ingredients:

  • Making chickpea pasta
  • 1-1/2 cups chickpea (chana) flour
  • 2 organic eggs
  • Cooking the pasta and preparing the salad
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • a couple diced sweet peppers
  • diced jalapeno, optional
  • The Dressing
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or green onions
  • minced sprigs of fresh mixed herbs of choice (basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
Chunky Sweet Potato Salad

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This puts Old World potato salad to shame! Delightfully pretty and ever-so-good.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of sweet potatoes cut into 3/4-inch chunks.
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 chopped sweet pepper
  • The dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (more or less to suit taste) maple syrup
Veggie Noodle Salad

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This is so colourful and delicious, your family never has to know it’s good for them!

Ingredients:

  • The salad
  • 1 large zucchini
  • fresh garden cucumber
  • a couple of large carrots
  • a handful or two of tender snap or snow peas, or lightly steamed whole green beans
  • shredded red cabbage
  • chopped sweet onion
  • diced green peppers
  • The dressing
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • pinch of crushed chili flakes (optional)

References

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About the Author

More Articles by Linda Gabris

Linda Gabris

Linda Gabris is an avid cook who enjoys sharing her grandmother’s old recipes and medicinal preparations as they were recorded in the handwritten journals passed down to her.

Linda also enjoys gardening and foraging for edible wild foods. Over the years, she has taught cooking courses in Prince George, B.C., with a focus on healthy eating, food preparation, and International cuisine.