Summer sides: Readers’ Choice

It’s summertime — and if the living is easy, the cooking should be too. An easy summer salad can compliment any meat fresh off the grill, or pack along for a picnic or potluck. If they’re quick to prepare and can be made ahead of time, even better!

We’re always on the look out for new ideas and old favourites. Here are some of our readers’ picks from the archives:

Tomato Salad

2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
8 slices of mozzarella cheese
1 tsp fresh chopped basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Slice tomatoes and lay on a plate. On each piece of tomato, place a slice of garlic and mozzarella cheese.

Place your finger over the top of vinegar bottle and drizzle about 1 tablespoon over tomatoes. Do the same with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the chopped basil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Let stand at room temperature covered for an hour or so to develop the taste. Serve with crusty buns.

(Submitted by barsara)

Apple and Pear Slaw


1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper


2 cups thinly sliced or grated Granny Smith apple (about 1 large apple)
2 cups thinly sliced or grated pear (about 1 large pear)
12-ounce package grated cabbage (or equivalent of fresh chopped cabbage)

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir in dressing. Chill up to 2 hours.

Makes 6 servings.

(Submitted by JSC788)

Broccoli-Feta Salad

3 cups broccoli florets, cut small
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup each raisins
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup feta cheese


1/2 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup mayo
1 T lemon juice
2 T sugar (or 1-1/2 T Splenda)
salt and pepper

Prepare dressing and toss with salad ingredients. Enjoy!

(Submitted by jazz65er)

Carrot Raisin Salad

5 large carrots
2/3 cups plumped raisins
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar
dash salt

Plump raisins, cool, coarsely shredded carrots, combine carrots and raisins

Mix mayonnaise with sugar and dash of salt and pour over raisins and carrots, mix and chill.

This is my favorite salad, use a food processor to shred the carrots, works well. Make sure the raisins are plumped, otherwise it does not taste as it should.

(Submitted by Terry383)

Sautéed Chickpeas with Cinnamon

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 lb. canned chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 tsps. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a heavy non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Sauté cinnamon sticks 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in chickpeas and sauté about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp.

Transfer chickpeas to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Toss.

Makes 4 servings.

(Submitted by JSC788)


Spicy Noodle Salad


1/3 cup Soya sauce
1/4 cup vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
2 tbsp chili sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger peeled and chopped fine *
4 cloves of garlic minced *
2 tsp chili pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil


1/2 package (900g size) or 1 lb spaghettini or vermicelli
1 large finely grated carrot
3-4 (to taste) finely sliced green onions or chives

In a shaker or jar combine all dressing ingredients, this can be made up to a week ahead and the flavour only improves. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cook the pasta, in boiling water at a boil for 7 minutes. Rinse with cold water until cool.

Combine noodles with carrot and green onion, then pour dressing over and mix. Keeps for several days in the fridge.

*I found pre grated ginger in jars at my local Super Store, as well as the pre-minced garlic, makes things easier and quicker. 1″ piece of ginger is about 1 tsp of ginger and 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic is equal to 4 cloves.

Friends love this salad — very tasty and you can make it ahead.

(Submitted by gibbledbanker)

Turkish Shepherd’s Salad

2- 3 tomatoes – blanched in hot water and peeled, then cubed
2 – 3 green peppers (not bell peppers unless the skins are tender), cut into thin strips
5 or 6 green onions sliced finely
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint if available


juice of 1 large lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)

Combine dressing ingredients and mix with salad.

Serve with bread sticks and any meat dish – keeps well and is great for picnics and barbeques.

(Submitted by sortac)

Bow Tie salad

Cook one cup (dried) of bow tie pasta and let cool. Add:

4 strips of bacon crumbled,
1 stalk of celery chopped
chopped onion for flavour (to taste)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

Make dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil,
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
shake of Worcestershire sauce
shake of basil flakes

Combine dressing ingredients in a shaker. Shake, then pour over pasta mix.

(Submitted by lilsuzie)

Layered Italian Salad


1 cup uncooked orzo
2/3 cup bottled or homemade vinaigrette
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
200-g container bocconcini cheese, drained (approx 9 balls)
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 yellow tomatoes
2 large red tomatoes
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers, bottled or home-roasted
1/2 English cucumber


1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in orzo. Boil, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain, then rinse with cold water until cool. Place in a large bowl. Pour in 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Sprinkle in onions and basil. Stir until mixed.

2. While orzo is cooking, slice each ball of cheese into thirds.

Smash olives with flat edge of a large knife. Discard pits and slice olives in half. Place cheese and olives in small bowl, then sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Cut yellow tomatoes into eighths. Coarsely chop large red tomatoes. Slice grape or cherry
tomatoes in half.

Pat peppers dry with paper towel, then slice into 1/2-inch think strips.

Slice cucumber lengthwise in half. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard seeds. Thinly slice.

4. Place orzo in a large bowl that will hold at least 14 cups. Cover with red tomatoes. Scatter with
cheese and olives, then cover with yellow tomatoes. Top with pepper strips, then cucumber. Finish with
grape tomatoes. Pour remaining vinaigrette, about 1/3 cup overtop but do not toss.

Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.

Bring to room temperature before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil or mint.

Serves 10-12


Whisk 1/3 cup olive oil with 5 minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp crumbled rosemary, 1 tsp each salt and granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Microwave, uncovered, on medium 1 minute or on stove over medium heat just until warm.

Whisk in 1/3 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar. Taste and add more seasoning, if needed. Cool to room temperature. Makes about 2/3 cup.

(Submitted by SharLet)

Photo © monkeybusinessphotos

Have you tried this recipe or have a cooking tip for other readers? Share it in the comments below.

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