There are many good reasons to make salads the main dish in your routine meal plans this season. For one, salads can be the most convenient option when it comes to preparing quick and easy meals during the warm, summer months. Unsurprisingly, salads can also provide a number of health and beauty benefits, being naturally packed with nutrients to help keep your body healthy, and your skin more radiant. Finally, salads can also make meal-planning a breeze to help save time, so you can spend more of it enjoying the outdoors soaking up the sunshine (and that extra dose of Vitamin D) with family and friends.
If you love a healthy salad and plan to maximize your time this summer, but you’re also tired of making the usual, then you can say goodbye to boring salads for good with these delicious recipes.
Cherry-Glazed Duck Breast Salad
*Recipe and photo courtesy of Chef Ted Cizma on behalf of Maple Leaf Farms
Greens can instantly transform into a unique meal when you add creative options like duck breast to help elevate the dish. Because it’s a red meat, duck breast provides a hearty taste, similar to steak, while being leaner and lower in saturated fat than other red meats.
In this Cherry-Glazed Duck Breast Salad, homemade cherry vinaigrette glazes duck breast and dresses baby spinach while blue cheese and slivered almonds add texture and flavor. As a bonus, you can save the duck breast skin to make cracklins for a quick snack or crunchy salad topping.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 cups dried cherries, divided
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 Maple Leaf Farms Boneless Duck Breasts
- 6 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
- 2 cups blue cheese
- 2 cups slivered almonds
To make Cherry Vinaigrette: In small saucepan over low heat, cover 1 cup cherries with water. Bring to simmer, cover pan and remove from heat. Let cherries soak in hot water 15-20 minutes. Strain cherries and reserve liquid.
In food processor or blender, puree cherries until smooth, adding reserved liquid as necessary. Add raspberry vinegar to cherry mixture. With blender or food processor on low, slowly add olive oil, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Season mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set aside Cherry Vinaigrette.
Heat grill to medium heat. Remove skin from duck breasts. Rub with remaining olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Pour some Cherry Vinaigrette into separate container to use as glaze; reserve remaining for dressing. Using pastry brush, coat duck breasts with Cherry Vinaigrette.
Cook duck until crisp and dark brown (about 5-6 minutes), turn over and recoat with Cherry Vinaigrette. Continue cooking until second side is crisp and brown, brushing with vinaigrette as needed, about 4 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 155 F. Remove to cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes.
Place spinach in mixing bowl. Toss spinach with enough dressing to coat leaves. Add blue cheese, almonds and most of remaining dried cherries, reserving some of each for garnish. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide spinach mixture among four bowls. Slice duck breast thinly on bias, starting at one end of each breast with knife at 45-degree angle. Fan slices of duck on top of each salad. Sprinkle each salad with crumbled blue cheese, almonds and dried cherries.
*Recipe and photo courtesy of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership Eating Heart Healthy Program
Consider stepping up your picnic game with a refreshing option like seafood. Eating seafood two times per week, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, can provide unique health benefits as a lean protein and source of omega-3s, healthy fats that are beneficial for your heart and your brain.
- 1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons green onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 ounce walnuts (about 14 halves)
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 bag (8 ounces) spinach
- 1 can (6 ounces) crab meat or fresh lump crab
- 1/2 cup lentils, cooked
- 1 grapefruit, cut into sections
Heat oven to 300 F.
To make dressing: Mix yogurt, lemon juice, green onions and olive oil. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Toss walnuts with cayenne pepper, to taste, and bake 4-5 minutes. Make sure walnuts do not burn. Remove walnuts from oven and let cool.
Toss spinach with dressing. Toss with crab meat. Sprinkle lentils on top and add walnuts. Place grapefruit pieces around edge.
Spiced Pecan Grilled Peach Salad with Goat Cheese
*Recipe and photo courtesy of American Pecan Council
A nutritious and versatile ingredient, American Pecans can be your secret weapon for a variety of entertaining occasions. Add one bag of pecans to your shopping list and transform standby recipes into wholesome and delicious meals and snacks.
- 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 teaspoons, extra-virgin olive oil or pecan oil, divided
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 large peaches, halved and pitted
- 6 cups mixed baby greens
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese
To make spiced pecans: Heat oven to 275 F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In bowl, whisk egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt until well combined. Fold in pecans and mix until evenly coated. Spread in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally until pecans are fragrant and golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
To make salad: In bowl, whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Brush cut sides of peach halves with remaining olive oil; grill until grill lines appear and peaches become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Remove peaches and slice.
Divide greens among four plates. Top with grilled peach slices and goat cheese. Divide 1 cup spiced pecans evenly among salads and reserve remaining for snack. Top each salad with drizzle of vinaigrette.
Check out more food and drink recipe features in the latest issues of VERGE Lifestyle & Urban Culture Magazine. Click here to shop the issues now, and become inspired!