This couscous has chewy cranberries, fresh mint, and a citrus dressing. Side dishes are tricky to have energy for or coordination for, but this has just a few ingredients and is great made ahead of time – who doesn’t need a dinner head start?!
Turmeric Couscous Salad Ingredients (for 4): 1 cup Israeli couscous 1/2 cup dried cranberries 3/4 cup orange juice (mine was orange tangerine) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon turmeric fresh mint
Directions: Cook the couscous and allow it to cool.
Mix in the juice, olive oil, cranberries, turmeric, and fresh mint. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.
Add another splash of juice before serving, if needed.
We have so so much mint so I could have added even more. The orange juice dressing and the fresh mint are really the dominant flavors here.
This was nice for variety since the kids will eat any form of pasta anytime but the turmeric added a pop of color we don’t see all the time. One kid ate tons, one ate some without strong feelings either way but overall I’d say it’s a winner and something I’d make again. The sweetness goes well with sausages or grilled chicken or falafel, or would definitely be of interest at your next BBQ!
This salad is perfectly served alongside tacos! It is flavorful, cool, and so so easy. I’m including a bunch of alternatives. We often have black beans or avocado on the side and this time was just a touch more special as a salad with dressing.
I loved it. I ended up scooping the remnants up with tortilla chips.
Black Bean & Avocado Salad Ingredients: (side for ~4) 1 can black beans 1/2 avocado 1/4 cup cheese (cotija or feta) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon cilantro (chopped or from a tube or frozen cube) 1 teaspoon honey lime juice from half a lime salt & pepper
Directions: Drain the black beans and add to a bowl with chopped avocado, chopped tomato, and cheese.
Then mix up the dressing – add olive oil, cilantro, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper and shake in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.
Add the dressing to the beans/avo/tomato and stir gently (too much stirring will mash up the avocado!). Enjoy!
I loved this. Chopping everything smaller would make a good dip – or my littlest one put it inside her tortilla and ate it like a taco. Our bigger kid ate the avocado and tomatoes out of it but was more into the tacos.
Substitute the tomatoes for corn, or red onion, or bell peppers, or whatever you like! Skip the cheese if you need it dairy-free. The avocado means it can’t quite be made in advance but everything else could be ready and add the avocado before serving.
Crispy Fish with Poppyseed Slaw Ingredients: (for 2 servings) 4 breaded fish fillets (I use a variation of these) 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts 1/4 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup poppyseed dressing 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 pita pockets – optional
Directions: Cook the fish – I airfried mine for 12ish minutes. (They do well in the toaster oven for 15-20 minutes.) While the fish is cooking, mix together the shredded brussels sprouts, cranberries, dressing, dijon, lemon juice.
Serve the crispy fish over the slaw or in a pita with the slaw.
I loved this! It was great to have something I pigeon-hole into one set of flavors in a new way.
The slaw would be great with broccoli slaw, or cabbage, or shredded carrots- whatever you want! I intended to use broccoli slaw but it was sold out. The dressing is my go-to for slaw – coleslaw isn’t a signature dish and this bottled dressing is perfect. I never pick it for a regular salad but it is great to have on hand to mix slaw as needed.
Make your tacos for cinco de mayo and have the remaining fish around for these!
This salad is a great side or it eats like a meal too. It miiiight not be the most picturesque but I couldn’t not share it. Think crunchy purple cabbage and carrots with peanut sauce and some shredded chicken- or skip the chicken. Either way, it is great and so fast.
Cabbage & Carrot Slaw with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients: (for ~4-5 as sides, or ~2 as a meal)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 large carrots, shredded
~1 cup roasted chicken, shredded (optional)
Shake the sauce together in a jar (or whisk together in a bowl) the soy sauce, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Refrigerate until serving or make and serve.
Mix the cabbage and the carrot.
Drizzle in the peanut sauce and mix well. Add in the chicken – if using- and stir gently.
I loved this! Know that brown sauce – like peanut sauce – is not beautiful but so tasty. We had it with sesame noodles and edamame- that’s on the regular rotation here. This slaw was great for a crunch and for the peanut flavor. My 5-year-old pb lover liked it and ate a bunch. My ~2-year-old pb lover only ate a little.
All these lettuce-less salad series will not be exclusively with fruit, but this was too good not to come next. Also, we bought a whole watermelon and the kids are just not as into it as other fruit so finding all the ways to use it was necessary. I chopped it up really finely to use the salad as a relish/topping, but it would be great on the side!
Watermelon Mint Salad
Ingredients: (for 4 as a side, for 6 as a topping)
1 cup watermelon
~10 mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Chop the watermelon, cucumber, shallot, and mint and add to a bowl.
Add in the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice plus some salt and pepper and chili powder. Stir well and chill until serving.
This salad is so fresh and light and flavorful. It could be spiced up with jalapenos or other peppers. It would be great as salsa with chips too or in larger pieces as a side. We had it on top of grilled chicken this time.
July brings us a lettuce-less salad series! Lettuce is often my least fav part of salad and my kids are not so into lettuce- maybe for the texture? This salad is all summer with peach, fresh mozzarella, tomato, and cucumber with balsamic reduction. When I say peach, I often mean nectarine but you do you. This was a hit for all of us! It may have turned Mr. J onto nectarines!
Peach, Mozzarella & Tomato Salad
Ingredients: (for 4)
1 8 oz fresh mozzarella ball
1 cup grape tomatoes
2/3 of a cucumber
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
Chop the peach, mozzarella, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Mix and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
If making it ahead of time, chop only the peach, tomatoes and cucumbers. Then chop the mozzarella and drizzle just before serving. Mini mozzarella balls would work well for this too!
The flavors and textures here are so perfect for summer. We ate it as a side with dinner and all of us loved it- we’re very into nectarines right now! I bought balsamic reduction since we’ll eat it a lot this summer and it just makes life a little easier but it is also so simple to make. Just bring balsamic vinegar to a boil and simmer for ~10 minutes until thickened. Then cool before using. That’s an easier way to have a smaller amount too.
I have a few more lettuce-less salads coming. Stay tuned!
Fruit in salad instantly elevates the salad. I wanted to uplevel the traditional spinach/strawberry/poppy seed salad by adding some cute tiny bowtie pasta and avocado. I used this balsamic fig dressing from Trader Joe’s but think shaking up some fig jam with some balsamic vinegar together in a jar would do the same thing!
Not Your Average Spinach Strawberry Salad
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 1/2 cups mini bow tie pasta
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons fig balsamic dressing (or 1 tbs fig jam and 1 tbs balsamic whisked together)
Boil the pasta, cook, drain, and let cool.
Mix together the spinach, pasta, strawberries, avocado, pasta, and poppy seeds. Mix gently.
Add in the dressing and mix again.
This was a fun one! We thought red onion would have been tasty in here too. I allllmost swapped the poppy seeds for everything bagel seasoning but didn’t in the end. Some shredded chicken would add some protein to turn this into a substantial meal. Spinach is pretty delicate so keep the dressing separate until serving.
This slaw screams SUMMER. All caps screaming! At first it was whispering summer, but I tweaked it and then the flavor was really pumped up. I put the slaw onto fish tacos but will make again just as a side slaw. It would be great with pulled pork or burgers- on them or alongside them! It has an ideal mix of creaminess and brightness.
12 oz (bag) shredded cabbage/broccoli slaw
1/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup lemonade
1 teaspoon lemonade drink powder mix
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
Mix & enjoy!
I used a single serving lemonade mix, like what to mix into a 16-oz bottle. One teaspoon of the powder went into the slaw then I mixed the rest with ~10 oz of water to make (strong) lemonade to add some into the slaw. The lemon juice served as my acid where I’d normally use vinegar. The lemonade mix sweetened where sugar would normally be.
The little guy ate his slaw separately from his taco, but Mr. J and I put it right on it. We don’t make tons of fish at home but frozen breaded fish pieces are super quick and are a crowd-pleaser inside a taco!
This salad lunch has all. the. things. After the buffalo chicken nachos, we were due for something healthier and summery, right? Balance is the name of the game.
It has a grain to be really filling and some greens for freshness and fruit for a pop of summer. I’m not enthused about meal-salads with just a bunch of greens. An hour later I’d be hungry. I made a batch of farro to also use in a dinner and it could easily swap with brown rice, cracked wheat, lentils, quinoa, or whatever you like/have leftover! Swap the greens for your favorite too, the arugula just holds up so well.
This salad works great as a meal – mine was lunch, or it’d be a great side or even a snack for those times you’re starving and know you’d like to make a good choice.
Farro & Arugula Salad with Summer Fruits
Ingredients: (for 1 meal or 2 sides)
3/4 cup prepared farro (or grain of your choosing)
1/2 cup blueberries
2 cups arugula (or greens of your choosing)
~2-3 slices of watermelon
2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (I used my fav Italian Dressing)
Chop the watermelon into bite size pieces and the arugula just once through.
Mix the farro, arugula, blueberries, and dressing to coat, then lightly toss in the watermelon.
This has great balance. I used allllll the arugula I had or I would have loaded in more. This was so fresh and actually filling. With so few ingredients this one is a winner to me. I’d pack this for lunch at work, keeping the watermelon & dressing separate until actually eating. I really wanted radishes in here but I didn’t find any at the grocery store and my farmer’s market is just opening. That super crunch would be great! I purposely went meatless but I can’t help but think grilled chicken would go well too!
Winter doesn’t scream salad because a) nothing locally is in season here in New England b) it isn’t warm & comforting like winter food and c) aren’t we wearing chunky knit sweaters for a reason? However, hitting a bunch of food groups in one dish makes me feel accomplished and there’s nothing more grown up for my lunch than arugula salad – compared to eating the crust of somebody’s pb & fluff sandwich while doing something else. This is a home lunch, or a dinner! I do not condone warming fish at the office. Nope. I bring you this salad with juicy shrimp, peppery arugula and pear to inch us towards the local produce that will be, once the seasons change and because we all deserve a restaurant-quality salad at home.
Veg, fruit, nuts, and fish -all in one dish? Yesss! Plus, my dressing hack takes zero brainpower and is ohh-so-perfect!
Winter Salad with Shrimp, Arugula & Pear
Ingredients: (for 1)
~4 large shrimp (~4 per person depending on med/lg/jumbo or swap with salmon/etc)
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups arugula
1/2 pear, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon Honey Mustard Dressing
In a completely dry pan, toast the walnuts over medium-low heat, being careful not to let them burn – about 3-5 minutes.
Peal & de-vein the shrimp. Then heat a small pan to medium heat with the butter. Sear the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side until pink and just cooked through. Remove promptly from the heat and set to the side.
Mix together the arugula, toasted walnuts, pear and shrimp.
In a small jar (or in a bowl with a whisk) shake together the two dressings.
Toss the salad in the dressing.
Serve and enjoy!
I love the sweet pear with the peppery arugula. There is such great flavor here without becoming super complicated- which is how I normally like salads = all.the.stuff. The dressing is spot-on and would be that dressing at a restaurant you love that you can’t put your finger on what exactly it is. The Italian dressing decreases the sweetness of the honey mustard. The best Italian is this one – seriously, so perfect.