(MCC) As the weather warms up, people are apt to spend more time relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors than cooking in a hot kitchen. 

Many people also are less likely to prepare heavy meals when the weather warms up. Rich, filling foods can make people feel sluggish, especially on hot days and nights. 

That’s why salads and summer are such a perfect summer food.

Salads can be made with whichever ingredients home chefs prefer or have on hand. Here are three recipes that will satisfy your hunger, but won’t weigh you down on these hot, humid days.

Blueberries, spinach and grilled chicken combine for a fresh summer meal

What better way to maximize the summer season than by incorporating summer berries into the salad mix? In this recipe for “Blueberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken” from “Cooking Light: Fresh Food Superfast” (Oxmoor House) from the Editors of Cooking Light, iron, folate, vitamins, and rich antioxidants combine to create a light, tasty meal that’s perfect for summer evenings.

BLUEBERRY SPINACH SALAD

WITH GRILLED CHICKEN

Makes 4 servings

3 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Cooking spray

1 6-ounce package fresh baby spinach

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

1 cup blueberries, optional

Blueberry-Thyme Dressing (see below)

Prepare Blueberry Thyme Dressing (recipe follows).

Place chicken breasts in a medium bowl. Add 1⁄3 cup dressing, toss to coat.

Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side, or until desired degree of doneness. Let chicken stand 3 minutes before cutting crosswise into 1⁄2-inch slices. Cover and keep warm.

While chicken cooks, place 11⁄2 cups spinach on each of four plates. Top salads evenly with chicken slices; sprinkle evenly with goat cheese and, if desired, blueberries. Drizzle evenly with remaining dressing.

BLUEBERRY-THYME DRESSING

Makes 5 servings

1 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredient in a blender; process for 30 seconds or until smooth. 

Fresh veggies add spark to salad dishes

Many people are quick to think of certain varieties of lettuce as the prime base for salads. However, just about any fruit or vegetable can serve as a foundation for a tasty salad. 

Zucchini and tomato provide excellent nutrition and can be 

hydrating, which can come in handy once the weather starts to warm. 

These versatile ingredients can be combined to form a robust salad to accompany any meal or one that can be enjoyed on its own. 

Such is the case with this recipe for “Raw Zucchini Salad” from “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” (Rockridge Press) by the editors of the Rockridge Press. 

Refreshing and filling, this salad may quickly become a staple of your diet.

RAW ZUCCHINI SALAD

(Serves 2)

1 medium zucchini, 

    shredded or sliced 

    paper thin

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground 

    pepper, to taste

3 to 4 basil leaves, thinly 

    sliced

2 tablespoons freshly grated 

    low-fat Parmesan cheese

Layer the zucchini slices on two plates in even layers. Top with the tomatoes. 

Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste.

Top with the basil and sprinkle with cheese before serving.

Peach and avocado salad from new cookbook

(TNS) — Jessica and Stephen Rose have a passion for peaches.

When the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee, they discovered there were no freshly picked peaches available in the summertime. 

Stephen had grown up in Georgia and spent his childhood summers on a peach farm, so he knew what they were missing. In 2012, they bought a truck and began importing Georgia peaches for Nashville residents and restaurants. 

What was first a sensation in the Nashville area has grown into a business that ships Peach Truck peaches in signature orange boxes to customers across the country.

Now the couple has a cookbook focusing on healthy eating, Southern cuisine and, of course, peaches. 

“The Peach Truck Cookbook” has all kinds of appealing ideas for using peaches, including Golden Gazpacho, Savory Peach Fritters, Peach Sorbet and The Peach Truck’s Signature Peach Jam.

This lovely peach and avocado salad from the cookbook uses a Green Goddess dressing from Jessica’s grandmother. She says it’s considered a family heirloom.

You can order Georgia peaches online or learn more about The Peach Truck by visiting ThePeachTruck.com.

AVOCADO-PEACH SALAD WITH GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

Serves 4

Green Goddess Dressing: (makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup chopped fresh 

    basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh 

    chives

3 tablespoons chopped 

    fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon 

    juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 oil-packed anchovy fillet,

    chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground

    black pepper

For the salad:

1 (7-ounce) head of bibb 

    lettuce

2 medium peaches, pitted 

    and sliced

2 avocados, pitted, peeled 

    and sliced

Green Goddess Dressing

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black 

    pepper

To make the dressing:

Combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, basil, chives, tarragon, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To make the salad:

Divide the lettuce, peaches and avocados among four plates.

Drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with additional dressing on the side.

Excerpted from “The Peach Truck Cookbook” by Jessica N. Rose and Stephen K. Rose. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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