Grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

This salad is fresh, clean and super easy to make–it’s just grilled vegetables, quinoa and a simple vinaigrette. I absolutely love grilling fresh veggies in the summer! They develop this amazing caramelization that brings out their natural sweetness, so you don’t have to add anything to them other than a little olive oil and salt to make them delicious. That’s probably why the dressing for this salad is so simple–just lemon juice, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Add some basil and mint for more fresh flavor, some slivered almonds for a crunch and BAM! Simple, healthy, delicious salad.

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This salad would be a perfect accompaniment to anything cooked on the grill. With all the protein from the quinoa and the almonds, you could even eat this as a tasty vegetarian, even vegan, entreé.

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Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin

Here’s another zucchini recipe to try while you can still get fresh zucchini in the market. It’s super simple and quick to put together and it’s really healthy too. There’s not a lot of flavors in the dish other than the vegetables, so it really needs to be made with fresh, in-season produce to give you the best flavor. I won’t go on another farmer’s market rant since I just did that last week, but I will encourage you again to check out your local farmer’s market.

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This gratin would be the perfect side dish for just about anything cooked on the grill. The savory, soft squash and tomatoes are complemented perfectly by the crunchy, cheesy breadcrumbs.

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Goat Cheese Tart with Marinated Tomato Zucchini Salad

This tart is a somewhat rustic yet elegant way to showcase the fresh vegetables that are so delicious this time of year. The veggies have a slight tang from marinating in a super simple vinaigrette, which perfectly complements the creamy cheese in the tart. This dish would be great as a summer appetizer or side dish. It would also be fabulous for brunch, or even dinner served alongside a fried egg with a slightly runny yolk. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, you could make the tart with just ricotta, or substitute in another soft cheese such as cream cheese.

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This tart ABSOLUTELY has to be made with fresh, in-season produce. The raw tomato and zucchini salad won’t taste even remotely the same if made with out of season produce purchased at the supermarket in the middle of January. I highly recommend visiting your local farmer’s market not only to get the ingredients for this tart, but for fresh, flavorful produce for other meals as well. At the market I was able to find heirloom cherry tomatoes that were so delicious I could have eaten the whole pint plain, and I’m not a raw tomato person AT ALL!  When I got home from the market, I weighed all my goodies and calculated what I would have paid for them at the grocery store. I ended up paying at least 35% less, got food that probably tasted better, and had the added bonus of knowing I was helping support farmers in my area. That’s a win, win, win if you ask me!

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Grilled Eggplant Salad

I know I’ve been posting a bunch of side dish recipes lately, but that’s because I’ve been finding so many new, delicious recipes! Here’s another one for you- a grilled eggplant and tomato salad. This goes great with Italian entreés like pasta or risotto, and is much more interesting than my typical go-to pasta side: green salad with an Italian or balsamic vinaigrette.

Some of you may be thinking, “but I don’t like eggplant.” Let me start off by saying that when I made this as a side dish for my parents’ birthday dinner, my mom said, “That salad was really good, and I don’t even like eggplant!” I wasn’t a big fan of eggplant myself the first time I tried cooking with it. But since then I’ve discovered the eggplant secret: liberally salt your eggplant before cooking it! Salting the eggplant and letting it sit for a bit draws out a lot of moisture, and along with that a lot of the bitter flavor that may be the reason you think you don’t like eggplant.

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Eggplant, like so many other vegetables, is absolutely delicious when grilled. When veggies are cooked on the grill they get a wonderful charred caramelization that adds a ton of flavor! Just be careful though, because veggies cook pretty quickly on the grill and even caramelized vegetables aren’t good when they’re mushy.

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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

We had this salad the other night with the keftede I posted yesterday. The salad comes together in a matter of minutes, making it a really easy side dish. Feta, kalamata olives and mint are really classic Greek flavors, so it went perfectly with the Greek meatballs. This would also be delicious with grilled chicken or beef kabobs and vegetables!

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Pea and Cauliflower Salad

For some reason I’ve always thought of this recipe as what I call “down home” cooking.  Perhaps that’s because I got it from my grandfather, who in turn got the recipe from a magazine with a very down home name that was included as a free insert in his small town newspaper.  I don’t remember the exact name of the magazine, but I think it might have included the phrase Country Cooking.  I tend to associate down home or country cooking with unhealthy recipes and lots of processed ingredients, but as I was making this salad the other day, I realized that it’s actually quite healthy.  Although the salad has a creamy dressing, all the other ingredients are fresh vegetables, making it healthier than a pasta or potato salad.  This is a great side dish for a summer cookout or to accompany hot dogs while watching the Reds game!

 

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Sweet Potato and Baby Kale Salad

Our church has a time of food and fellowship after the service every week called Coffee and Conversation. There’s always an AMAZING spread of food and I often end up not needing much if any lunch when I get home. The weeks I’m signed up to bring food I usually bring baked goods because it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to feed lots of people with them. This week though I decided to bring this salad as a healthy option (in addition to the banana bread and chocolate chip cookies I brought). And am I ever glad I did!  I have never gotten so many compliments or recipe requests in my life!!!

This sweet potato and kale salad is dressed with chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is similar to pesto but with parsley, cilantro and jalapeño instead of basil, cheese and pine nuts. You can buy premade chimichurri at most grocery stores, but in general I prefer to cook food from scratch whenever possible because it often tastes better, and that way I know exactly what’s in my food. It seems I always have a partially used bunch of parsley and/or cilantro in the fridge from one recipe or another, and it often goes bad before I can use all of it. This time I had the brilliant idea to combine leftover cilantro with olive oil in the food processor and then store it in the freezer until I ended up with a leftover bunch of parsley. Then I was able to combine them to make chimichurri. No more fresh herbs going to waste!

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The original recipe said to boil the potatoes, but I really like the added flavor vegetables get when roasted in the oven, so I roasted them instead. Both methods are included in the recipe below.

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