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5 salad recipes with a refreshing kick of heat

(Tom McCorkle For The Washington Post/Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
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If you find yourself groaning at the word “salad,” let me try to convert you. A salad doesn’t have to be boring or relegated to a side dish. In fact, a salad is more fun when it becomes a colorful, spicy adventure through your pantry.

Lately, I’ve been dreaming about the seemingly endless combinations of leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, spice and dressing. The obvious conclusion was there all along: Salad invites flavor and zest and a personal favorite of mine, spice. A dash of it might be the key to turning a salad skeptic into a salad savant.

How to make the best salad ever

In just a few simple steps, you can spice up your salad and sweat out the summer heat. For more hot and spicy salads, search for the salad course in our Recipe Finder.

Spicy Thai Corn Salad (above). Summer corn is in full swing during the hottest months of the year. So indulge in this plump vegetable (once you learn how to shuck it) mixed with a spicy Thai bird’s eye chile, or for a milder kick, try serrano or jalapeños.

Spicy Tahini Slaw. For a crunchy and cool topping for steak, hot dogs or a slice of bread, look no further than this slaw. To save time, you can purchase pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. Any leftover tahini dressing can be drizzled over noodles or pasta for a follow-up meal.

Sweet Potato Salsa Salad. A zesty salsa tops a mountain of roasted, garlicky potatoes because, guess what, salsas can be salads, too. Thinly sliced jalapeño adds a sweet bite of heat. If you find yourself with a full fridge, substitute other vegetables and legumes into this hearty plate.

Your guide to salad greens, plus tips to pick, prep and store them

Koshimbir With Tadka (Indian Salad). The secret ingredient to any delicious koshimbir is tadka — spice-infused oil or ghee. Drizzle this aromatic oil on your choice of vegetables and fruits for a flavorful salad that packs a punch.

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Smacked Cucumber in Garlicky Sauce. Cold cucumbers mixed with a spicy suan ni wei (garlic paste flavor) makes for a more refreshing bite. The same sauce can also be used on wontons, fresh-cut noodles or fried dumplings.