Get Creative With Fresh Salad Ingredients

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Once upon a time, salad meant lettuce, tomato, maybe cucumber and whatever dressing you might find in the fridge. But modern salad-making can be an art form.

I like to source ultra-fresh ingredients, preferably from local farms. For most salads, a variety of greens or a grain serve as my base, then I add whatever I’m in the mood for or what needs to be eaten first. Fruits, veggies, herbs and protein foods are all options. A topping like nuts, seeds, or croutons adds crunchiness. And cheese adds even more flavor.

summer salad

No salad is complete without a homemade oil and vinegar dressing. Just find a jar with a lid and combine around three parts vegetable oil with one part acid. Acid could be citrus juice or any type of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper or any herbs that you like and shake the jar.

This citrus dressing is one of my favorites. It’s easy to make and adds a complex tanginess to any salad.

Fresh Citrus Dressing

°2 Tbsp. orange juice

°1 Tbsp. lime juice

°1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

°1 Tbsp. honey

°1 tsp. Dijon or brown mustard

°1 small clove garlic – minced or pressed

°Salt & Black Pepper

°1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place ingredients in jar with lid and shake until blended, or whisk together in a small bowl.

For a grain-based salad that takes advantage of summer herbs and peaches, try this couscous salad. You may substitute another grain, such as rice if you don’t have couscous.

Whole-Wheat Couscous Salad with Fresh Herbs and Fruit

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 ½ cup whole-wheat couscous

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped mint

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 ripe peach, diced

6 dried dates, chopped

5 dried figs, chopped

¼ cup toasted pistachios

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste


Heat the broth or water to boiling. Add vegetable oil, pour in couscous and stir. Simmer for 1 minute, then cover and take off the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Stir together with the remaining ingredients. Tastes great served warm or cold.

Serves 8.

Written By

Margie Mansure, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMargie MansureExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences - Nutrition and Foods Call Margie E-mail Margie N.C. Cooperative Extension, Watauga County Center
Posted on Aug 31, 2020
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