3 Summery Salads That Are Actually Satisfying for Dinner - Cupcakes & Cashmere

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3 Summery Salads That Are Actually Satisfying for Dinner

I've already made this basil-lime salad three times this week...
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Even when testing and developing recipes was my full-time job, dinner salads—the kind you can sink your teeth into, and that truly satisfy—always eluded me. I spent the majority of my adult life buying $14 sweetgreen salads and Caesar packs because my own creations felt disjointed and never filling enough, like the only-slightly-better version of mesclun mixes served at every "athletic banquet" in high school (you know the one). Over the course of the past few months, I've finally cracked the code on satisfying salads, and have found three I love—two are my own recipe, while another is so good I had to share it. Below are three of my favorite summery salads sure to satisfy:

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This salad, like some of my favorite recipes I've ever created was the result of a mistake. After Emily suggested I make her favorite roasted vegetable salad from The Ivy, I burnt my tray of vegetables to an unsalvageable crisp—with the exception of zucchinis! Not only was I able to salvage it with the contents of my fridge, but I ended up creating one of my favorite salads in the process, that's also one of my favorite recovery foods after a tough workout thanks to all the good fat in it (from the salmon, avocados, and almonds!).

How to make it: 

For the salad:

3 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces and roasted (or, better yet, grilled)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, for roasting, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lemon, divided
1 pound wild salmon (this is enough for four servings—I also often use canned wild salmon, which is significantly less expensive and still delicious)
1 bag butter lettuce (I used the Trader Joe's mix)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 avocado
7 beets, roasted or boiled cut into quarters (I use the ready-made packs from Trader Joe's)

For the dressing:

Juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons Dijon
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare your zucchini by cutting it into bite-sized pieces (I quarter it length-wise, then cut into small pieces), toss in a baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and juice from half the lemon and add to the oven. (You don't have to be precious when roasting vegetables, so feel free to just stick it in there even if it isn't fully heated yet!)
2. Turn your oven down to 275° F. While it pre-heats, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and add the salmon skin side down. Brush with enough olive oil to cover, add a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, but be careful not to over-cook it! Check your vegetables, and remove them if they're done at this point! Allow to cool mostly to room temperature. (This can all be done ahead, and left in the fridge until dinner time.)
3. Meanwhile, make your dressing. Mix everything in a jar up to the olive oil until combined. While whisking with a fork, slowly add in the olive oil until combined. Feel free to taste, and adjust to taste!
4. Toss the butter lettuce with the almonds, zucchini, and lemon dressing. Plate the greens, with the avocado fanned out, the salmon, and however many beets you'd like. 

P.S. I used my oven because I don't have access to outdoor space or a grill, but the salmon and zucchini would be even better grilled! 

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Both of my favorite Caesar salad dressings aren't strictly Caesars—the first is a cheat recipe from Food52's Genius Recipes. The other is this deliciously hearty vegan (!) option from Jenné Claiborne's site Sweet Potato Soul that use soaked sunflower seeds and spiced crispy chickpeas.

Recipe is available here!

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Last, but certainly not least (this may be my favorite salad in this post), when our previous Editorial Intern, Caroline, posted a salad chock-full of summer vegetables to her Instagram Stories, I immediately screen-shotted it then DMed her to ask for the recipe. She said she made it up on the spot, but that it tastes great with lime, so I riffed to create what I imagined it tasting like—and it's possibly my new favorite summer salad. It's as simple as it gets, and so, so good!

How to make it:

For the salad: 

16 ounces cherry or small tomatoes 
6 Persian cumbers (or 3 to 4 regular)
3 ears boiled corn, kernels removed from cob
3 large handfuls basil (tear larger leaves to bite-sized)
3 ounces crumbed feta (or 6 if you're really excited about cheese!)
Grilled chicken (optional)

For the dressing: 

Juice from 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro (I used one Trader Joe's package) 
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon coriander 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil (I used Brightland's Chile Olive Oil for a kick!) 

1. Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into matching, bite-sized pieces. Toss with all other salad ingredients in your largest bowl, up to the chicken.
2. In a food processor or small blender, add all dressing ingredients except the olive oil. Blitz until fully blended/almost creamy. Add the olive oil a little at a time and blend until fully combined. 
3. When ready to eat, toss with dressing to taste, pour yourself a beer, and add grilled chicken on top you'd like with an extra squeeze of lime before you're worth it. 

Do you have any favorite dinner salads? Tell me in the comments! 

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