One of the best things about summer is all the salad. A bounty of fresh produce makes for texturally complex piles of veggies layered with bright, light dressings on hideously hot days.
The absolute best part of a summer salad, though, is the fruit.
To me, a complete salad must include some fruit — end of story. I need the touch of sweetness and the texture of fresh fruit, a play of sweet on savory to break up the greens that, while delicious, can sometimes taste like a big ol’ bowl of earth.
With that said, here are 10 smart ways to use summer fruit in your salads.
People wait at the edge of their seats for the brief and beautiful window in summer when stone fruit are at their best.
Nectarine Salad With Warm Bacon and Nectarine Dressing, above. Take the opportunity to not only eat them, but artfully arrange them in swirls atop a bed of greens with crunchy little sunflower seeds, crispy bacon and a warm dressing with bacon and nectarine preserves to amp up the nectarine. Salty and sweet? Count us in.
Fresh Summer Peach Salad. You’ve never had a salad like this one: peach, mango and cucumber in a funky dressing, tossed with a whole bunch of fresh herbs? Wow. A little peanut crunch completes it.
You can get berries at any time of the year, but ripe summer berries are sweeter and brighter — an ideal foil to crunchy salad greens.
Couscous Salad With Summer Fruit and Arugula. This one is a hearty mix of pearled couscous, greens and any berries that are ready and ripe. Use any ratio of blackberries to raspberries to blueberries, whose sweetness meets its match with tangy dressing and salty feta cheese.
Grilled Chicken Paillards With Sugar Snap Peas and Strawberry Salad. Candy-sweet summer strawberries pair with bright and crunchy sugar snap peas. Toasted almonds add another layer of crunch, while grilled chicken provides protein in this dinner-worthy salad.
Baby Spinach Salad With Strawberries, Oranges and Toasted Pecans. This salad is jam-packed with fruit. A honey Dijon dressing, baby spinach and toasted pecans provide the foundation for this classic summer combo.
Most of us wish we could be on a beach right now, enjoying the sea breeze, hot sand and a piña colada (or two). Bring some of that energy at home by grabbing some tropical fruit for your kitchen.
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum Thai). You might see this salad quite a lot as a starter in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Crunchy, shredded green papaya in a spicy, funky dressing could be an appetizer, side dish or, when tossed with some shrimp, a light main course.
Spicy Pineapple and Pepper Salad. A little heat and sweetness goes well on top of toasty bread, as a relish for a grilled steak or as a salsa on fish tacos.
It’s tough to find a good melon at any other time of the year. Heck, it’s hard enough finding a good one when they’re in season! Here’s how to flex them into masterpieces.
Tomato Watermelon Salad. Alongside the slices you will inevitably serve at a cookout, mixing chunks of watermelon with tomato with mint, feta and nuts is going to be a hit.
Cantaloupe Salad With Arugula and Crispy Prosciutto. Cantaloupe and salty prosciutto are a match made in heaven. When prosciutto is crisped up and served alongside the buttery melon, it takes a classic appetizer and turns it into a main course.
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