salad

The Ultimate summer salad recipe

I am so excited summer is here! Well it’s not officially summer but the weather has been gorgeous. We have had temperatures reaching the 80’s recently which is awesome. Because we are now homeowners with a backyard of our own it means we can have outdoor barbecues and lunches which I have been looking forward to. What better meal to eat in the summer other than a fresh homemade salad with all the fixings. Today I am sharing the ultimate summer salad recipe. 

With a salad like this you don’t even need to eat anything else with it. Even my hubby who has a healthy appetite was pretty satisfied. So, what ingredients does one add to the ultimate summer salad? Lettuce is a must because it adds volume to the salad and is the base ingredient. I like Romaine lettuce for this because of its firmness, dark green color and slight savory taste compared to iceberg lettuce.

Another must in this salad are red bell peppers, both fresh and fire roasted. I used 2 whole red bell peppers and one fire roasted. Red bell peppers are sweet and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Of all the bell pepper colors the red one is my favorite. I think a lot of people would agree with me. 

Last of the must have ingredients for the salad are cucumbers. Cucumbers add some bite and great texture to any salad. Instead of slicing them the usual way in circles, try to slice them diagonally. Slicing them diagonally will expose more surface area and looks better in my opinion. 

The rest of the ingredients can be substituted and switched around as you prefer. I added cherry tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, shredded carrots, blueberries, capers and fresh mozzarella. The result is a absolutely delicious and beautiful salad. No busy dressing needed here. I used a garlic and lemon favored Carlson Olive oil packet which was all I needed. 

Do you like salads? What is your favorite salad combination? I would love to learn from you in the comment box below. I have the perfect drink to serve this summer, check out the recipe here

The Ultimate Summer Salad
Serves 4
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 heads romaine lettuce roughly chopped
  2. 2 Persian cucumbers sliced diagonally
  3. 1/2 large red onion sliced
  4. 2 red bell pepper sliced
  5. 1 cup roasted red peppers sliced
  6. 1 cup shredded carrots
  7. 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  8. 1 mozzarella ball sliced
  9. 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  10. 1 cup basil leaves torn
  11. 2 tbsp capers
  12. salt and freshly ground pepper
Dressing
  1. 1 packet Carlson Olive Your Heart lemon flavored oil
  2. 1 packet Carlson Olive Your Heart garlic flavored oil
Instructions
  1. Add all vegetables in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper then top with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Spoons and Stilettos http://www.spoonsandstilettos.com/

Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta Salad

If you were given the challenge to make an easy dish with one unlikely ingredient what would you make? I was recently working on a campaign with the Soy Vay brand and they encouraged us to make a simple dish with an unlikely combination of ingredients. This got my creative juices flowing but after much debate I decided to go with a Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta salad. What makes this salad unique is the addition of fresh mandarins to it.

Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta Salad

I must admit that I was not a big fan of sweet and sour dishes for a very long time until I had an amazing orange chicken dish at an Asian restaurant. Since then I have opened up more to the sweet and sour world.

I initially thought of adding sliced peaches but I scratched that idea because these are out of season and the ones I found at the store were flavorless and expensive. Pineapple is a popular sweet addition to savory dishes but I figured the fibrous texture and tartness may not go too well with the other ingredients. Mandarins were the next best choice as they complement spinach very well and offer a great flavor contrast to the other ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta Salad

I know what you are thinking….this can’t possibly taste good, but let me tell you it really does!

Why bow tie pasta? I chose bow tie pasta because it’s flat surface can be easily picked up with a fork in a salad. Hoisin garlic sauce which has a strong salty and slightly sweet flavor provides the perfect contrast to the fresh mandarins. Green onions, carrots and red cabbage, fresh ginger all elevate the flavor of this salad and together they created a party of bold flavors.

Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta Salad

A salad like this is best served for a light Saturday lunch or packed lunch for work on a weekday. It even tastes better the next day plus it’s easy, unique and very tasty!

If you are looking for a more traditional pasta salad you will love my Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad.

Print Recipe
Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Sweet and Sour bow Tie Pasta Salad
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 16 ounce package Bow Tie Pasta
  • 4 cups Fresh organic spinach
  • 1 cup Sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup Shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin Garlic Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Minced Fresh ginger
  • 3 small Peeled and segmented mandarins
  • 2 Green onions sliced
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 16 ounce package Bow Tie Pasta
  • 4 cups Fresh organic spinach
  • 1 cup Sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup Shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin Garlic Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp Minced Fresh ginger
  • 3 small Peeled and segmented mandarins
  • 2 Green onions sliced
Sweet and Sour bow Tie Pasta Salad
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook bowtie pasta at a boil till al dente i.e tender but with a bite, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Mix pasta, spinach, cabbage, onion, carrots, ginger and mandarins in a large bowl.
  3. Mix Hoisin sauce and oil together and pour over pasta mixture. Stir to coat. Serve warm or cold.

Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad

Sponsored post written by me on behalf of DaVinci Pasta. The opinions and text are all mine.

You know that moment when you get home, open the fridge and just stare at it as if some dish is going to miraculously appear? This happened the other day when I had no idea what to cook until I noticed a bag of precut veggies sitting in the fridge. I then remembered I had received some bags of DaVinci Orzo pasta a few days before. If there is a pasta that goes well with veggies it is Orzo pasta. I had all I needed to make a delicious Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad.

Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad

For the beginner cook wondering what Orzo is; It is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. Because of its similarity to rice it is often used as a rice substitute. DaVinci Orzo pasta is made in Italy with the finest ingredients, making it the perfect canvas for creative meal ideas like this Zesty Orzo and Veggie Pasta Salad. DaVinci Orzo can be found in Italian markets as well as a variety of grocery stores including your local store. The different varieties of DaVinci Pasta can be found using the product locator

Orzo pasta is very popular in salads because it goes very well with crunchy veggies and it is a good way to bulk up a salad. It is great in soups, pilafs, casseroles and risotto. In the cold weather, a hot bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup is my favorite. Another fun way to use Orzo pasta is to stuff it into halved avocados or tomatoes for pretty presentation.

Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad

My Orzo Salad is quick, easy and there are so many ingredients that can be added to it. Delicious possibilities include cucumbers, radishes, dill, tomatoes, red onion, green peas, asparagus, feta, basil and more. You simply cannot go wrong with Orzo as it goes well with many things.

I spiced up my orzo salad with a little curry. The addition of curry may seem a little strange in this dish but it does not overpower the dish at all. I added a little lemon juice which mellows the strong curry flavor. The curry creates a unique depth in flavor unlike any orzo salad you will have. Another unexpected ingredient in this salad is capers which provide a hint of saltiness.

Zesty Orzo and Veggie SaladZesty Orzo and Veggie SaladThis zesty Orzo and veggie salad can be served warm and it will keep well in the fridge for a few days. It makes a great take to work lunch meal. Since I made more than enough for dinner, my fiancé and I were able to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Orzo salad can be served with any protein from chicken, beef, pork or fish like I did. If you like you can eat it alone or even top with a fried or poached egg.

Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad

Looking for more Orzo salad inspiration? Check out my delicious Orzo and Hearts of Palm Salad recipe too.

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Print Recipe
Veggie Orzo Salad
zesty orzo and veggie salad
Course Side dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 3 cups mixed veggies broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts,
  • 1 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp capers
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • red and yellow peppers sliced
  • Lemon zest
Course Side dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 3 cups mixed veggies broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts,
  • 1 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp capers
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • red and yellow peppers sliced
  • Lemon zest
zesty orzo and veggie salad
Instructions
  1. Cook orzo per package directions
  2. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, ginger, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper. Set aside
  3. In a large wok sauté onion for 3 minutes. Add curry powder and cook another 2 minutes. Add mixed veggies to onions and cook for 5 minutes until veggies are tender but still have a bite to them.
  4. Drain orzo and rinse under cold water.
  5. When the pasta and vegetables are ready, transfer them to a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Taste the salad and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Orzo & Hearts of Palm Salad with lemon dill dressing

Just when I thought I had tried every ingredient, hearts of palm came along. If you have not heard of hearts of palm, they are a delicious vegetable that comes from the stem of palm trees. Hearts of Palm are considered a delicacy and have started gaining some traction in the food world. One of my favorite ways of using hearts of palm is in an Orzo & Hearts of Palm Salad with lemon dill dressing. My go to brand is Reese Hearts of Palm. It is absolutely the best tasting.

Orzo & Hearts of Palm Salad with lemon dill dressingThe crunchy texture of hearts of palm makes them wonderful additions salads including this Orzo & Hearts of Palm Salad with lemon dill dressing. The addition of fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, artichoke hearts with the lemon and dill dressing makes a delicious combo sure to be a hit at any summer cook out.

I only use the Reese brand because all their Hearts of Palm products are Non-GMO verified, low cholesterol, rich in potassium and very versatile. The convenience is a plus too, just open the package and you are good to go!

In addition to hearts of palm, Reese also has artichoke hearts, capers, anchovies, water chestnuts and more. I especially love the artichoke hearts which are great on pizza and in a spinach artichoke dip. I highly recommend trying the Hearts of Palm & the Artichoke Hearts. Best of all you can earn rebates on Reese products if you download the Ibotta app.

I always love to know when you try my recipes and look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. You can share photos of your dishes on Instagram and be sure to tag Reese on Instagram

FYI: This post is in partnership with Reese. As always, the images and content in this post are my own.  

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Print Recipe
Orzo & Hearts of Palm Salad with lemon dill dressing
Course Side dish
Cuisine Meditterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Whole Wheat Orzo pasta
  • 1 cup Reese Canned Hearts of Palm
  • 3 tbsp Reese Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 small yellow or red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 3 stems green onions thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium lemon zested and juiced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Course Side dish
Cuisine Meditterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Whole Wheat Orzo pasta
  • 1 cup Reese Canned Hearts of Palm
  • 3 tbsp Reese Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 small yellow or red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 3 stems green onions thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium lemon zested and juiced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, black pepper and set aside.
  2. Cook Orzo per package instructions for about 12 minutes till cooked. Make sure pasta is aldente and not overcooked and mushy.
  3. When pasta is cooked rinse it it under cold water to remove excess starch and place in a large bowl.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, dressing and mix gently. Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to combine.

Mozzarella and cucumber salad

When it comes packed lunches I am one of those people who tends to use leftovers but every now and then I like to prepare a packed lunch. This beautiful mozzarella and cucumber salad is very easy and is perfect for a quick packed lunch.

Mozzarella and cucumber salad

Now lets talk about the two main  ingredients in this lovely salad.

Persian cucumbers I used Persian cucumbers for this salad because they travel well compared to other cucumber varieties which lose their water quickly. Persian cucumbers also have softer skin and smaller seeds than other cucumbers which makes them perfect for salads. Fun fact, cucumbers are technically fruits but are used as a vegetable.

Fresh Mozzarella  Feta cheese would have worked fine for this salad however mozzarella is perfect. I used buffalo mozzarella which is by far the best mozzarella cheese. Yes, it costs more than cow’s milk mozzarella cheese but its worth the splurge. After all you would have probably used that extra money for a latte at one of those fancy coffee shops.

Let me know if you try this Mozzarella and cucumber salad recipe, you can shoot me direct message or tag me on Instagram. I am always looking forward to hearing from you. You can also try the ultimate orzo pasta salad . This is one of my favorite as it tastes even better the next day and therefore is a great salad to pack for lunch.

Things you may need:

This post contains affiliate links which means I get a small commission when you click through the product links and make a purchase. Click here for my full disclosure policy.


Print Recipe
Mozzarella and Cucumber salad
Cuisine Meditterranean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 2 Persian cucumber thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes sliced
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves torn
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cuisine Meditterranean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 2 Persian cucumber thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes sliced
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves torn
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix arugula, spinach and basil leaves and place in a lunch container preferably glass.
  2. Add slices of tomato, cucumber and mozzarella on top and drizzle with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe Notes

You can also place olive oil in a small container and drizzle it when its time to eat.

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