Sizzling Summer Salads 1

As August temperatures soar, this salad sizzles without heating up your kitchen! A variety of healthy greens are topped with lean grilled protein to keep you in swimsuit shape. Of course, it’s the dressing that can make or break any salad, and these unique choices of creamy goodness or a tart vinaigrette will fire up all appetites.

Southwest Grilled Greens Salad with Espresso Vinaigrette

Add a local touch to this salad by using fresh ingredients from the garden or farmer’s market. A variety of greens will work, as long as they are hearty enough to stand up to being charred. This salad, with the exotic surprise of grilled cactus paddles, is great as an appetizer for a grilled meal or you can top it with grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a protein packed entrée. The unique espresso dressing provides a perfect flavor contrast to tart tomatillos and mellow greens. The Green Goddess dressing provides a creamy option for those who favor a healthier alternative to Ranch Dressing.


3 cups torn frisée greens 
(or assorted fresh seasonal greens of your choice)

1½ cups trimmed watercress

1 cup fresh cilantro

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

6 scallions, halved lengthwise

4 large tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered

3 medium roma tomatoes, chopped

1 large nopales (cactus paddle), spikes removed

4 garlic cloves

4 ounces feta cheese (or Mexican queso fresca, if available)

1/3 cup olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Espresso Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon instant espresso

1/3 cup olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


In a large resealable bag, combine scallions, tomatillos, nopales, garlic, feta, olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal bag, pressing out any air, and shake to mix all ingredients. Let sit at least an hour to marinate. Preheat grill to medium-high; lightly oil grates. Remove ingredients from marinade bag, except for cheese. Grill, turning occasionally, until tender and charred in spots, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. To serve, arrange greens on platter. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette. Top with cucumbers, cilantro, grilled vegetables and crumbled cheese. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Or, top with Green Goddess dressing, as desired.

To prepare vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey and espresso until espresso is dissolved. Gradually add olive oil, whisking constantly; season with salt and pepper.

Yield: 8 servings; Calories (with 2T dressing each): 165; Fat: 7g; Cost Per Serving: $1.59.

Lean Green Goddess Dressing

1 large avocado, sliced

2 teaspoons anchovy paste

1 medium garlic clove, minced

¾ cup low-fat mayonnaise

2/3 cup low-fat sour cream

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped chives

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a blender; process until smooth, about 35-45 seconds. Serve as a dressing or as a dip for chips and vegetables. Store covered in refrigerator up to one week.

Suzette Zara is a cookbook author, certified nutritionist, creator of Satan’s Salsa, and a frequent speaker on low-fat healthy cooking.