The garden salad is a great summertime meal filled with lots of crunchy veggies and topped with a tasty vinaigrette dressing. This salad takes advantage of seasonal produce to make a colorful presentation in less than 10 minutes.
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Well, winter is over and unfortunately, we skipped spring! It is so hot these days that I think summer is here. One of the best things about summer in the Middle East is the quick grills and variety of fresh salads.
Here’s a simple garden salad recipe that’s quick and easy to prepare. All you need is iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber. The garden salad dressing is also very versatile and can be made with ingredients you have on hand.
Why make a garden salad?
- This is an everyday salad that gets ready in a snap.
- The most important is that it is a very versatile salad. You can add anything and everything to it. Make it your own!!
- It is perfect for anyone looking for something light and quick for lunch or snack during the day.
- You can serve this as a healthy side dish for starch with any protein. In fact, I often will eat my main courses such as chicken or fish with salad instead of rice or potatoes. And while my kids claim they want to eat rice, I find them enjoying this salad because it's so fresh and refreshing.
- And, the best thing about this salad is that almost everything can be switched or substituted. If you don't like something you can easily omit or switch it to something else.
- This salad keeps well, so you can make it a few hours ahead and store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a day in the refrigerator.
Ingredients and substitutes
- Lettuce - I am using iceberg lettuce but you can use any lettuce you like. Try romaine, butter lettuce, Belgian endives, arugula, and little gems lettuce. You can even add some spinach.
- Cucumbers - I am using an English cucumber but any variety that you love eating such as Persian or pole cucumbers works too. Make sure to use a nice crisp cucumber not too soft that will release too much liquid.
- Tomatoes - I am using cherry tomatoes but you can use one large tomato cut into cubes. I like to deseed large tomatoes to keep the salad from getting too soggy. When in season, I love to use multi-colored grape tomatoes.
- Avocado - Use ripe avocados, but make sure it is not mushy or firm. You want it soft enough to be able to eat with a fork but still hold its shape.
- Cheese - I love a few cubes of sharp cheddar in my garden salad but you can also use crumbled feta, blue cheese, or shaved parmesan cheese.
- Lemon juice - You can also add fresh lime juice, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. If you like a lemon flavor, go ahead and add the zest in too.
- Olive oil - When it comes to salads, I love to use good quality cold-pressed olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. You can even add garlic or chili oil.
- Fresh herbs - I am using parsley today but fresh cilantro, mint, dill, and fresh basil are a great addition too.
- Optional ingredients - A garden salad is the most versatile because you can add almost anything you want. Try Spanish red onions, black olives, steamed carrots, or roasted veggies. Often, I like to throw in some croutons to make it a whole meal as well as some pickles like pepperoncini.
- Vinaigrette - In a small mason jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Close the jar and give it a good shake. Set aside
Pro tip - You don't really need a blender or food processor for this dressing. You can also use a small bowl and whisk but make sure to shake the jar or whisk until the lemon and oil emulsify.
- Veggies - In a large salad platter or large bowl layer the veggies. Start with the iceberg lettuce at the bottom, followed by the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado.
Pro tip - Make sure to add the avocado when you are ready to serve as it will start to oxidize
- Optional - Then, add the optional ingredients - I am using sliced boiled egg, strawberries, and pomegranate seeds. I am also adding diced sharp cheddar.
Pro tip - You can also add other chopped season fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears, etc.
- Dressing - Gently pour the vinaigrette all over the salad. Then, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Pro tip - You can toss the salad mix with the salad dressing. But I like to make sure to gradually pour the dressing all over so you don't have to stir the salad and ruin the presentation.
- Chicken garden salad - Make a complete meal for lunch or dinner. Add up to 2 cups of diced cooked or grilled chicken breast to the salad.
- Tuna garden salad - Add a can of drained and flaked tuna to the salad.
- Shrimp garden salad - Add up to 2 cups of sauteed shrimp to this avocado salad.
- Roasted veggies garden salad - Add roasted veggies like roasted carrots, butternut squash, or a few roasted potatoes to the salad.
More salad recipes
Frequently asked questions
Salad is always best served as soon as it is made. Otherwise, the leafy veggies start to wilt, veggies like cucumbers will give out all the liquid, and veggies like avocado will start to oxidize. Make sure to add seasoning and dressing to the veggies just before serving.
As the word suggests, a garden salad uses veggies always available (in the garden). Back then, most people always had lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber on hand. These days, the list of available veggies is longer. Most importantly, you can use any seasonal veggies which is why every garden salad recipe will be different.
This is a simple and easy mustard vinaigrette but you can also use a few varieties of salad dressings from creamy mayo dressing, ranch dressing, yogurt dressing, tahini sauce, etc.
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- ¼ cup (60 ml) Oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) Lemon Juice
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Honey
- ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard (or mustard paste)
- 1 head Iceberg lettuce (roughly chopped)
- 1 large Cucumber (Persian or Lebannes )
- 2 cups Cherry tomatoes (I used combination yellow, red and orange)
- 1 medium Avocado (diced into 1 inch cubes)
- ¼ cup Parsley (rougly chopped)
Optional (see note)
- 2 large Hard-boiled egg (sliced )
- 4 large Strawberries (chopped )
- ¼ cup Pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup Sharp cheddar cheese (diced)
- Vinaigrette - In a small mason jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Close the jar and give it a good shake. Set asidePro tip - You don't really need a blender or food processor for this dressing. You can also use a small bowl and whisk but make sure to shake the jar or whisk until the lemon and oil emulsify.
- Optional - Then, add the optional ingredients - I am using sliced boiled egg, strawberries, and pomegranate seeds. I am also adding diced sharp cheddar. Pro tip - You can add other chopped season fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears, etc.
- Dressing - Gently pour the vinaigrette all over the salad. Then, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Pro tip - You can toss the salad mix with the salad dressing. But I like to make sure to gradually pour the dressing all over so you don't have to stir the salad and ruin the presentation.
Recipe Notes & Tips
- This is an easy salad so don't think so much. Use veggies that you and your family love to enjoy.
- Make sure your veggies are fresh and crisp. For example, buy fresh lettuce that have crisp leaves so they stay fresh longer.
- You can layer the veggies for this salad a few hours ahead of time but make sure to add veggies like avocado and the dressing just before serving.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you