3 Awesome Salads for Your Cookout 😎 (or anytime!)

Spinach, arugula, watermelon and feta salad

Spinach, arugula, watermelon and feta salad

With Memorial Day only minutes away, you may or may not be planning to gather around the grill, but in case you are, we thought we'd weigh in on some salad ideas for your party.  Or your un-party, as the case may be.  Frankly, anytime one of these salads shows up, it's gonna be a party. 

So first up, we've got that scrumptiously beautiful number up there that boasts lots of fresh spinach and arugula that's been dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and then topped with juicy chunks of sweet watermelon and a sprinkling of salty feta cheese.  (If you saw my watermelon post on Instagram, this is one of the first things I did with it. 😬) 

watermelon salads.jpg

My daughter-in law often brings this salad to our barbecues and it's everyone's favorite.  I like to top it with a good sprinkling of cracked black pepper, but that didn't quite make it into the photo.  So just imagine a lovely dusting of pepper on top.

Romaine, kale and avocado caesar salad

Romaine, kale and avocado caesar salad

Next up is my version of a Kale Caesar Salad that combines chopped romaine and kale combined with as much avocado as you can stand (I can stand a lot), drizzled with Caesar dressing and then topped with shredded Parmesan cheese (again, more is best).  This time I got the black pepper into the photo.  It's a must.  You can totally add croutons if you like, but I sort of prefer without.  Your call though.

Grilled corn, tomato and avocado salad

Grilled corn, tomato and avocado salad

Last but ever so not least is our Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad.  This is a salad that we've been serving at our barbecue parties for like ever and we do love it so.  The original recipe that we fell in love with called for fresh, raw corn kernels and it really is amazing.  Recently I've started grilling the corn (cuz that's super easy) and then slicing it off the cob and we pretty much dig that version too.  If you have a grill pan, you can grill the corn on the stove, or you could steam the corn or just leave it raw.  Oh, and you can also sprinkle this salad with feta cheese for an extra dimension of deliciousness!

you can also add feta cheese and it's so good!

you can also add feta cheese and it's so good!

Alrighty then, people.  Whether you're grilling out or staying in and kicking back this weekend, we've got you covered in the salad department.  (And might I mention that last week's grilled veggie flatbread wouldn't be a bad addition to the grill either.).  Here are the recipes...

Spinach, Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Click here for a printable recipe

Because this is a dead simple salad, you must be sure that each ingredient is really wonderful, starting with really fresh greens and a sweet, juicy watermelon.  And it's super important to use a really GOOD feta cheese...a creamy one in a block, not already crumbled (too dry).  I like the Pastures of Eden feta cheese from Trader Joe's, but any good feta will work.  One last thing... to make your salad look as beautiful as it tastes, only dress the greens with balsamic vinaigrette and then add the watermelon and feta to the top.  Mixing it all with the vinaigrette with discolor your watermelon and the feta cheese (but it won't affect the flavor).

Serves how ever many you need it to.

Several handfuls of fresh baby spinach and arugula
As much watermelon as you think appropriate to the amount of greens you're using
Just enough feta cheese, but not too much
Fresh cracked black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
Equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
a good amount of salt and pepper

Mix your vinaigrette in a small jar and set aside while you prep your ingredients.

Toss the spinach and arugula with the just enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves but not sog it down.

Top the dressed greens with chunks of watermelon and a good sprinkling of creamy feta cheese and a dusting of fresh, cracked black pepper.

Serve immediately.

Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad

Click here for a printable recipe

The addition of kale and avocado to our Caesar salads has been a revelation.  So good.  As for the dressing, I've given you my recipe below which is very traditional and delicious.  If I'm short on time, the only store-bought dressing that I think comes even close in flavor is Paul Newman's Creamy Caesar.  

Serves 4 as a side dish

2 cups chopped romaine
3 cups chopped kale
1 large or 2 small avocados, diced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
Lots of fresh, cracked black pepper

For the dressing:
2 eggs
4 cloves of garlic (place in microwave for 11 seconds to mellow the flavor)
2 or 3 anchovy filets
½ tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground pepper to taste
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground pepper to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a pan of cold water to a boil and add 2 eggs.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Immediately put in a bowl of cold water and let cool completely.

In a medium (2 cup) measuring cup mix together the garlic, anchovy and salt and then add in the lemon juice, mustard, worcerstershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Use a hand blender to incorporate the olive oil and then blend in the eggs.  Alternatively, you an just put all of your dressing ingredients in a blender and  with the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until well incorporated.  Any extra salad dressing can be stored in a tightly covered jar in the fridge for up to a month.

Combine the kale and romaine in a large bowl.  Add the diced avocado and mix well.  Drizzle with just enough of the dressing to coat the greens, but not make it soggy.  Toss to mix and then sprinkle with the shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.

Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Click here for a printable recipe

We love grilling the corn for this salad, but you can totally serve the corn raw (so good) or gently steamed.  Also, we sometimes sprinkle this with feta cheese and it's really, really good.

Serves 4 as a side dish

4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned and grilled, steamed and then cooled (or left raw)
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large avocado, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
feta cheese for serving (optional)

Mix together the lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a small jar or container.  Shake to combine and set aside.

Stand each ear of corn on a cookie sheet and with a sharp knife, carefully slice downward to release the kernels. 

In a bowl combine the corn, tomatoes, avocado and scallions. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired.  Taste for salt and pepper before serving.