3 Dynamite Dinner Salads

05/22/2015 09:27 am ET | Updated May 22, 2016

There is hardly a meal where we don't serve a salad as a side course. But now that the weather is warm, we take it even further -- there is nothing more delicious and refreshing as a salad for dinner during the Spring and Summer. There are so many types of greens you can use, so many vegetables, proteins, nuts, and pulses you can add in -- the variations are endless. Often we top our salads with sliced chicken, a beautiful piece of grilled fish, or, if it's Meatless Monday, tofu to complete the meal. Or, if we're in the mood to try something totally different, Korean style steak. We love coming up with new combinations and ingredients. Here we give you three of our favorites, two from The Pollan Family Table cookbook and one from our blog: Chopped Italian Salad with Chicken Milanese, Mediterranean Salad with Seared Tuna, and Bulgogi Beef Salad.

Chopped Italian Salad with Chicken Milanese

pollan family salad

(4 to 6 servings)

We love chopped salads and are always looking for new ways to prepare them. We took the traditional Milanese ingredients -- chicken and arugula -- added crunchy vegetables, cheese, and nuts, and created a delicious salad that can be served as a main course.

For the dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
Kosher salt
8 ounces green beans
4 cooked breaded chicken cutlets at room temperature
4 cups chopped butter lettuce, 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups chopped arugula, 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped radicchio, 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup mini mozzarella balls, or 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup Croutons

For the dressing
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, and vinegar. Slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream, whisking until completely emulsified. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the salad
Set a small dry nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and shake the pan occasionally until they begin to brown and give off a toasty aroma, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Meanwhile, fill a mixing bowl with cold water and ice. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the beans to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled, drain well. Slice the beans into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

Cut the chicken cutlets into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch-long pieces. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, arugula, radicchio, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, and croutons. If the dressing has separated, whisk again to re-emulsify it. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss. Lay the chicken pieces on top of the salad and serve.

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Mediterranean Salad with Seared Tuna

tuna salad

(4 servings)

This salad is a complete meal replete with heart-healthy ingredients and delicious fresh and savory flavors. To get the full spectrum of the Mediterranean diet, we love to pair this with a glass of red wine.

For the dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme, or fresh thyme
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the tuna and salad
Four 4-ounce sushi-grade ahi tuna steaks, at least 1 inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced Persian or seedless cucumbers, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 cup sliced red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 teaspoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
12 ounces small red or white potatoes, halved
1 cup sliced green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Romaine lettuce hearts, torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 cup assorted pitted Mediterranean olives

For the dressing
In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, garlic, shallot, oregano, and thyme. Add the vinegar and lemon juice, and whisk to blend. Pour in 1/2 cup of oil in a slow stream and continue to whisk until emulsified. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.

For the tuna and salad
Season the tuna steaks generously with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the salad dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion, 1 teaspoon of the parsley, and 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Mix well and set aside.

Place the potatoes in a large pot; add water to cover by 2 inches and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon (leave the water boiling) and place them in a small mixing bowl. Spoon on 1 tablespoon of the dressing, add 1 teaspoon of the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Fill a mixing bowl with water and ice cubes. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to the bowl of ice water until cool. Drain again and dry on paper towels.

Remove the tuna from the refrigerator. Set a medium skillet over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil and heat until smoking hot. Place the tuna in the pan and sear for 1 1/2 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for an additional 1 1/2 minutes (for rare). Transfer to a cutting board and allow the tuna to rest for 5 minutes. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut it against the grain into 1/2-inch slices.

If the dressing has separated, whisk again to re-emulsify. Place the lettuce, green beans, and the remaining dressing in a large salad bowl and toss. Arrange the greens on individual plates and top each with potatoes, cucumbers and their dressing, tomatoes, and olives. Place a sliced tuna steak on top of each salad. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

TIP: You can prepare your dressing up to 2 days ahead. Whisk it to re-emulsify before using, or shake well if stored in a jar.

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Bulgogi Beef Salad

beef salad

(4 servings)

1 1/4 pounds beef tenderloin (you can also use sirloin)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the marinade:
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar to make a paste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
2 small heads Bibb lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
2 radishes, sliced into rounds
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut into half moons
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cooked, shelled edamame beans
1 Fresno chili pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

For the dressing
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped

Freeze the beef for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to an hour. This will make the beef easier to slice thinly.

Remove the beef from the freezer and slice as thinly as possible. Layer the slices of beef in a large casserole dish, sprinkling the two teaspoons of sugar over each layer.

In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, the garlic paste, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and stir.

Rub the marinade all over the beef and set aside.

For the dressing
In a glass jar with a lid, or a small mixing bowl, combine the grape seed oil, the rice wine vinegar, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, the maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh mint, and shake vigorously or whisk in the bowl to emulsify.

For the beef
Heat a large grill pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and heat until shimmering. Raise the heat to medium-high and fry the meat in a single layer until nicely browned, about 15 to 20 seconds per side. Remove the cooked meat to a platter and continue until all of the meat is fried, set aside.

For the salad
In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with half of the dressing to coat, adding more to taste. Put the lettuce into individual shallow bowls or plates. Top each salad with carrots, radishes, cucumbers, red onion slices, and edamame. Place the beef slices on top of each salad, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of fresh mint, and serve.