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5 Scrumptious Main Dish Salads Perfect For Summer

And we've even included the best wine pairings.

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illustration of wine and salad pairings for the summer season
Meredith Miotke
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After a winter of hearty stews and soups, I plan my summer dinners around seasonal main dish salads and often use a grill instead of my oven. Each of these five salads serves four and goes great with crusty sourdough bread or a baguette — and refreshing summer wines that hold up to vinegar-based dressings.

If you’re craving something sweet afterward, there’s nothing better than a scoop of your favorite ice cream topped with fresh berries, peaches and all the summer fruit you’ll miss once fall arrives.

Corn, Cheddar and Avocado Salad

Corn, Cheddar and Avocado Salad_by_Meredith Miotke_1280x704.jpg
Meredith Miotke

Created by Candy Schulman, winner of the Vermont Cabot Creamery Recipe Contest

Salad Dressing (can be made in advance)
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
Shake everything together in a glass container.

4 ears fresh corn
1 pound boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh pepper, to taste
3-4 cups assorted salad greens (Boston, red leaf, etc.), washed and torn into bite-size pieces
¼ pound grated cheddar
2 avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
Tortilla chips, to taste

  • In a covered pot filled with a few inches of water, boil the corn for 8 minutes. Cool; slice off the kernels.
  • Grill the boneless chicken, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the greens in a large bowl.
  • Top with the corn, chicken slices, grated cheddar, avocado slices and tomatoes.
  • Toss the salad with the dressing.
  • Arrange with the tortilla chips, points down, all around the edge of the bowl, in a circular pattern, and serve.

Note: Eliminate the chicken for a tasty vegetarian version.

Wine pairing: Chablis or Spanish cava

Warm Potato–Goat Cheese Turkey Salad

Warm Potato–Goat Cheese Turkey Salad_by_Meredith Miotke_1280x704.jpg
Meredith Miotke

Created by Candy Schulman

Salad Dressing
1 heaping tablespoon honeycup stone-ground mustard
1/8 cup cranberry-pear or other fruity white balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Whisk together the mustard and vinegar.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while constantly whisking.
  • Add salt and pepper; whisk again.

12 small fingerling, new or purple potatoes
3-4 cups assorted salad greens (Boston, mesclun or red leaf), washed and torn into bite-size pieces
½ pound smoked turkey, sliced thickly and cut into chunks
½ cup black olives
3-4 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese

  • Cover the potatoes with water and boil until tender, for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Place the greens in a large bowl. Add the turkey chunks and olives.
  • Dot the top with small spoonfuls of goat cheese.
  • Drain the potatoes; cut them into bite-size pieces. Place the warm potatoes directly over the goat cheese so it melts, forming a creamy consistency when it’s tossed with the dressing; serve.

Note: Be creative with summer vegetables; al dente asparagus, green beans, fresh peas and broccoli all make delicious additions in summer salads.

Wine pairing: Riesling or Vouvray

Salmon or Tuna Salade Niçoise

Salmon or Tuna Salade Niçoise_by_Meredith Miotke_1280x704.jpg
Meredith Miotke

Adapted from Epicurious; created by Susan Herrmann Loomis

Salad Dressing
3 tablespoons champagne or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and fresh tarragon, basil or chervil, to taste

  • Whisk the vinegar with Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle the olive oil into the bowl slowly while constantly whisking.
  • Add the minced garlic, salt and fresh herbs; whisk again.

1½ pounds sushi-grade salmon or tuna fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh pepper, to taste
Market vegetables and assorted salad greens (see steps 4 and 5)
1 cup niçoise olives
8 anchovies, drained

  • Drizzle the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Grill to medium rare.
  • Slice the fish into thin lengths.
  • The rest is DIY, any assortment or amount: al dente green beans, quartered hard-boiled eggs, cooked new potatoes sliced in half, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, chopped celery, grilled red peppers and sliced red onion.
  • Create a long platter with assorted greens torn into bite-size pieces, topped with an appealing design of all ingredients plus niçoise olives and anchovies; serve.

Wine pairing: Sauvignon blanc or Sancerre (salmon); chilled sake, Chablis, or French or Spanish rosé (tuna)

Charred Broccolini Caesar With Kale and Chickpeas

Charred Broccolini Caesar With Kale and Chickpeas_by_Meredith Miotke_1280x704.jpg
Meredith Miotke

Adapted from Food & Wine; created by Justin Chapple

Salad Dressing
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon each salt and fresh pepper
6 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped into a paste

  • Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper into the anchovy paste.
  • Add additional salt and pepper, to taste.

1½ pounds broccolini, washed and trimmed, stalks cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon each salt and fresh pepper
½ cup crushed hazelnuts
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups little gem or assorted lettuces
1 bunch lacinato kale, approximately 4 cups, washed, stemmed and chopped
1 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • Heat the oven to 425°F.
  • Toss broccolini with oil, salt and pepper.
  • Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast until the broccolini is lightly charred and the stems are crisp tender, for about 15 minutes.
  • Roast the nuts until they are browned, for 5 minutes.
  • Toss the charred broccolini, chickpeas, torn lettuce, kale and onion in a salad bowl.
  • Toss with the anchovy dressing and serve.

Wine pairing: Pouillly-Fumé or Gruner Veltliner

Grilled Beef Salad With Oranges

Grilled Beef Salad With Oranges_by_Meredith Miotke_1280x704.jpg
Meredith Miotke

Adapted from Food & Wine; created by Charles Phan

Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients.

1½ pounds strip steaks, 1-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
¼ cup sugar
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut into sections
6-8 ounces watercress
6 ounces frisée, torn into small pieces
Salt and fresh pepper, to taste

  • Toast the peppercorns and coriander in a dry pan, shaking for 1 minute, until fragrant. Cool. Crack them with a mortar and pestle or the back of a knife.
  • Marinate the steaks in a plastic bag containing the garlic, soy sauce and sugar. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Grill the steaks (10 minutes for medium rare).
  • Mix the orange sections and the greens, tossing with dressing and with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange on four plates, not in bowls. Top with slices of steak cut across the grain; serve.

Wine pairing: Slightly chilled pinot noir or Beaujolais

What's your favorite thing to cook in the summer? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle