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Salads You'll Want to Eat for Dinner

Beat the heat tonight with one of these seasonal and satisfying mains featuring summer's best produce

chef devin alexander showing us a kale peach salad dish with salmon and a thai beef salad

Riley Hallead; Mitch Mandel

En español |  One of the best parts of summer is the plentiful, affordable, delectable fruit. And these simple, entrée-worthy salads highlight the season's sweet cherries, juicy peaches and berries galore, along with sneaking in those healthy greens. If you follow a vegetarian diet, skip the suggested proteins and opt for grilled tempeh or tofu while substituting vegetarian cheeses where desired.

watermelon feta salad with shrimp

Mitch Mandell

Watermelon Feta Salad

Last summer, I was asked to make dinner for a political candidate's campaign where the attendees were paying $5,000 per plate. Needless to say, I felt a bit of pressure to serve the perfect menu. Having noticed some particularly perfect watermelon at the market, I ended up building this salad around it (though I dressed it with a homemade champagne vinaigrette instead of the bottled balsamic I've used here to keep things quick and easy). It was a huge hit, as the slightly unexpected combination of flavors worked so well. Just be sure to get a really fresh watermelon — the cubes should be bright hot pink, almost red, not dull pink.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups loosely packed mixed green lettuce
  • 6 medium fresh basil leaves, slivered or to taste
  • 3/4 ounce reduced-fat, crumbled feta cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural, reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette
  • 4 ounces large, peeled and deveined chilled, steamed shrimp
  • 3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) 1/2-inch cubes watermelon

Preparation

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the greens, basil and about two-thirds of the feta with the dressing until well combined. Mound the salad on a plate and top it with the shrimp and the remaining feta. Place the watermelon evenly around the edge of the plate. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving: 275 calories, 31 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates (14 g sugar), 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 179 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 733 mg sodium.

Reprinted from The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook by Devin Alexander (©) 2011 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. 'The Biggest Loser' (TM) and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc.

plate of arugula lettuce salad with sliced cherries goat cheese and nuts

Michelle Pederson

Arugula Sweet Cherry Goat Cheese California Walnut Salad

This salad is so good I often quadruple the recipe and take it to summer parties. It's always met with rave reviews, and it's so easy to throw together! The nuts and cheese help balance the relatively high sugar level of the cherries, delivering a steady dose of energy.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (loosely packed) arugula leaves, coarse stems removed
  • 8 cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3/4 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped California walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon light champagne vinaigrette, or more to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, optional
  • 4-ounce lean grilled chicken breast, salmon fillet, tofu or tempeh (optional)

Preparation

Mound the arugula on a dinner plate or salad bowl. Place the cherries around the outer perimeter. Sprinkle the goat cheese and walnuts over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Toss, if desired. Top with chicken, salmon, tofu or tempeh. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving (nutritional information does not include added protein): 240 calories, 8 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 3 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 139 mg sodium.


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Balsamic-Drizzled Baby Kale Salad With Peaches, Feta and Almonds

You'll love this salad, which hinges on making sure your peach is perfectly ripe. Plan ahead by storing the fruit in a paper bag until it's ripe. After that, transfer it to a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. If you don't have a perfectly ripe peach, fresh cherries will make this salad memorable, too. Just be careful when selecting your balsamic. Some have as much as 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (loosely packed) baby kale leaves, coarse stems removed
  • 1/2 peach, skin and pit removed, sliced into about 8 slices
  • 3/4 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) light feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped roasted almonds (salted, if desired)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette, or to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, optional
  • 4-ounce grilled wild salmon fillet, lean grilled chicken breast, tofu or tempeh (optional)

Preparation

Mound the kale on a dinner plate or salad bowl. Place the peaches around the outer perimeter. Sprinkle the feta and almonds over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired, and toss. Top with salmon, chicken, tofu or tempeh, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving (nutritional information does not include added protein): 262 calories, 14 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 11.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 6 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 446 mg sodium.

thai beef papaya salad

Mitch Mandell

Thai Beef Papaya Salad

Fish sauce is a common ingredient in many Southeast Asian dishes. Made with fermenting fish, it has a very strong, distinct flavor that is essential to a lot of recipes, including this salad. You'll notice I use only a small amount here — it's high in sodium, so I recommend adding it sparingly.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces trimmed top round steak, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 teaspoon all-natural salt-free Thai seasoning (available in the spice aisle of most grocery stores or online)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh lemongrass stalk
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-natural fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup thin, bite-size strips fresh papaya
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup red onion slivers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely slivered fresh red chile peppers (also called Fresno chiles; wear plastic gloves when handling) (Note: For a less spicy salad, seed the chile. If you prefer a spicier salad, don't seed it.)
  • 3 cups mixed baby greens

Preparation

Preheat the grill to high.

Rub the oil evenly over the steak, then do the same with the seasoning. Let the steak stand until the grill is hot.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemongrass, fish sauce and coconut sugar.

Grill the steak for 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes while the juices redistribute.

In a large serving bowl, combine the papaya, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro and chiles. Slice the steak and add it to the bowl. Add the lime juice dressing and toss until well combined.

Spread the greens evenly over a dinner plate. Mound the steak mixture in the center, atop the greens. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving: 234 calories, 29 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates (14 g sugar), 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 363 mg sodium. 

Recipies above reprinted from The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook by Devin Alexander (©) 2011 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. The Biggest Loser (TM) and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., www.devinalexander.com

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