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Salads with Substance

A protein-and-vegetable-packed bed of greens is the kind of vibrant, low-effort meal that anyone can appreciate on a scorching summer evening.

Published June 1, 2021.

A big green salad loaded up with precooked proteins; chunks of juicy, tangy fruit; cool, crisp vegetables; and a bright, creamy dressing is just the kind of hearty, low-effort meal that I want to make and eat when it’s too hot to do any real cooking. The prototype that always comes to mind is a chef’s salad, but frankly I could do without the cold cuts and characterless greens. In fact, I knew that with a bit more effort and imagination I could riff on the minimal cooking/maximum sustenance model and come up with all kinds of combinations that were equally substantial but far more dynamic and flavorful.

After a couple weeks’ worth of salads, I had a diverse trio featuring one with cooked chicken, mango, and broccolini drizzled with a spicy peanut dressing; another with hot-smoked salmon done up deli platter–style with hard-cooked eggs, capers, and dill; and finally a meatless combo of pan-seared halloumi, chickpeas, and crunchy pickled cauliflower florets. More important, I also came away with a number of basic salad‑making principles—a blueprint of sorts that helped me identify not just why these particular combinations work well but also how the ingredients I might already have on hand could be put to use in other nutritious, vibrant, flavor-packed salads.

Blueprint for Super Salad

Follow these best practices for combinations that are substantial, nutritious, eye-catching, and full of flavor.

 

Hearty Green Salad with Spicy Peanut Chicken

A protein-and-vegetable-packed bed of greens is the kind of vibrant, low-effort meal that anyone can appreciate on a scorching summer evening.
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