Ah, the summer salad. Your local farmers’ market is overflowing with fresh leafy greens of every variety, and before you know it, your fridge is, too. Stocking up on greens during the summer is a great choice for your health and the planet – but salad fatigue is real. If you’re gluten-free, you’ve probably suffered through more than your fair share of drab salads at restaurants that aren’t gluten-free friendly. Salads often get a bad wrap, but that all ends here.
No more suffering through a salad to get to your main course – these tips will transform your greens into a mouth-watering main course. Lettuce explain (sorry, had to).
Fire Up The Grill
If you consider yourself a carnivore, pair your greens with a hearty protein. Next time you’re grilling up your famous T-Bone steaks, switch the script and serve a deconstructed barbecue salad. It’s simple: prepare all the elements of a classic BBQ meal and combine to make an unforgettable salad. Grill the steak (chicken works too!) as usual, slice it thin, and chill in the fridge.
Meanwhile, blacken cobs of corn on the grill and shave into strips. Mix it all together in a bowl with your favorite sliced veggies like cabbage, carrot, and tomato, then toss with a coleslaw dressing.
RECIPE: The Food Network’s Steak Salad
Lean Into Flavor Greens
If you’ve been playing it safe with romaine lettuce and spinach, it’s time to step up your greens game. We love the Know Your Greens guide from Greatist, which helps you identify and understand different leafy greens. Any rising salad pro will want to buy arugula; a bitter, peppery green that livens up any salad. Pair arugula with chopped asparagus, goat cheese, and nuts for a classic, well-balanced summer salad.
If you’re still demystifying kale (aren’t we all?), here’s a pro tip: baby kale is best for salads where the only greens are kale. If you’re using standard green kale, pair it with a gluten-free grain like quinoa, or chopped spinach. Don’t forget to massage your kale!
RECIPE: From A Chef’s Kitchen’s Quinoa and Kale Salad
Sick of Cobb Salad? People all around the world do salad differently, offering endless options for mixing up your greens routine. Take Chopped Thai Salad: it’s packed with a rainbow of vegetables, super nutritious, and a totally different flavor profile than the typical American salad. Get your greens in with a generous serving of baby kale, and experiment with fresh summer flavors like ginger, lime, and edamame.
Mexican-inspired salads also make for a great summer dish. You’ve probably already got a go-to taco salad recipe, but a true master of greens will upgrade to a Mexican-inspired dish that incorporates even healthier foods like avocado, quinoa, and black beans. The ingredients for this take on Mexican salad are actually pretty simple: combine quinoa, black beans, corn, mixed greens (or your greens of choice), red onion, avocado, and cilantro with a healthy, citrus-based dressing.
Gather ‘round, veggie lovers. We know your eyes glazed over when we shared ideas for grilling up steak and chicken with your greens, so this one is for you. For those looking for a meat-free salad that is still main-course worthy, texturizing is key. It’s all about finding a balanced variety of textures for your salad, and a quick trip to your local market will give you all you need. Think beyond typical salad ingredients like red onion and grape tomatoes and try adding kohlrabi sliced into rounds or matchsticks to your salad for a juicy, crunchy crisp.
Black beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils all add great texture and protein, making them a valuable choice for a vegetarian salad. If you’re not already adding nut mix or walnuts to your salad, you’re missing out. Finally, garnish your salad with sunflower sprouts or microgreens and give yourself a gold star – you’re officially a salad pro.
What’s the best gluten-free salad recipe you’ve tried? Share your favorites in the comments below!