Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

This salad is so good!!!!!! I can’t use enough exclamation marks to convey how delish it is. Picture your favorite spring veggies (which can totally be subbed out based on what you have at home), loads of fresh herbs, warm and fluffy wild rice, and an easy homemade lemon vinaigrette drizzled over top. It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion.

This dish is hearty enough to be a vegetarian main for lunch or dinner, or serve it with a protein of your choice, such as grilled chicken or broiled salmon. It’s great for meal prep, too! If meal prepping, I like to pack it with an extra wedge of lemon to give it a bright pop just before eating. Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll need a few cups of cooked wild rice and a boat load of veggies to make this salad. I’ve listed the ones I used for this recipe (also the ones I believe taste the best), but don’t be afraid to substitute, omit, or embellish as desired. No veggie is a bad veggie in this salad. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wild rice blend
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Shelled english peas
  • Scallions
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

That’s really it! It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but the nice part is that most of them are found in the same area of the grocery store. So, you won’t have to do a lot of searching while shopping.

Tools used to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

I love this dish because it uses so few tools to pull together. I love batch cooking a grain on Sunday to use throughout the week ahead, so you could easily do that here! My favorite method for cooking wild rice* is as follows: combine 1 cup wild rice blend with 2 cups water or broth in the bowl of your Instant Pot, then cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure and you’ll have perfectly fluffy (and hands-off) wild rice! Then, to make this a “warm” salad, I simply heat the rice over the stove or in the microwave before adding the other ingredients. You could do that, or just make your rice right before preparing the dish. Either option works.

If you cook your wild rice ahead of time, then your equipment list is literally this short:

If you cook your wild rice just before making this dish, you’ll need to add either an Instant Pot or a pot with a lid to your equipment list, as well as a dry measuring cup. Pretty simple stuff!

How to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll begin by cooking your rice, either in the Instant Pot or over the stove according to package directions. If using the Instant Pot, see above for my favorite method for cooking it*.

While the rice cooks, prepare the vegetables. Slice, dice, chop, mince, etc. and add it all to a bowl. To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, salt, and black pepper and whisk until emulsified.

When the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked rice to the bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Add the dressing and toss thoroughly, seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or chilled!

Looking for other salad ideas?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

1 cup dry wild rice blend

2 cups water or broth

3-5 small radishes, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium carrot, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium English cucumber, quartered then sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup shelled English peas, blanched

1 cup mixed herbs, minced (I used parsley, dill, and mint- but anything works!)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp honey

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Make the wild rice. Combine wild rice and water or broth in a pot and cook according to package instructions. If using Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allow natural pressure release, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. Slice radishes, carrot, cucumber, and scallions. Mince the herbs. Blanch the peas by boiling them in water until they just start to float (about 2 minutes), then drain and immediately rinse with very cold water. Add all the veggies to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make the lemon vinaigrette. Combine juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk until emulsified.
  4. Once the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked wild rice to the mixing bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Pour the lemon vinaigrette all over and mix very thoroughly.
  5. Season again with salt and pepper, and enjoy warm or serve chilled later.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar is officially my segue into spring flavors. I love cold months so much, but one of the reasons I live where I do is for the distinct four seasons. If winter hadn’t already outstayed its welcome, it really made its place known with another unexpected, and pretty large, snow dump earlier this week. My car got stuck and I ended up staying late at work because I was literally trapped. Needless to say, I’ve had enough of winter.

Enter this celery salad and I was met with a little bit of joy in the otherwise cold and dreary days. It’s crisp, easy to pull together, and really adds an unexpected element to those heartier winter meals. I really love the balance in this salad!

This recipe was inspired by a favorite chef of mine, Joshua McFadden. His book, Six Seasons, is truly one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve ever read. Trust me- my collection is overflowing. In that cookbook, he has a recipe for a similar celery salad with dates, parmesan cheese, and various other delightful ingredients. This is basically a riff on that famous recipe. I took out the nuts that are present in his recipe and made the addition of za’atar in my recipe. I love nuts, but I found that we’ve been consuming a lot of them since adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. Whether its almond milk, almond flour, other nut flour blends, etc., it was just a lot of nuts. The za’atar is punchy and bright enough to stand up to the lemon in this dish, plus I just love the taste of it.

Nuts or not, this salad excels in every aspect. Read on for the how-to.

Ingredients needed to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To make this celery salad, you really need to get yourself some celery. I implore you to skip the pre-cut celery hearts at your store and instead grab a full-blown head of celery, with the leaves attached. Those little celery leaves are so delicious chopped up and added into this salad, plus it’s just one other way you can reduce your food waste in the kitchen. Save the leaves!

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Celery
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Golden raisins
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar spice blend
  • Sharp cheese, such as parmesan, aged provolone, pecorino romano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Tools used to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

This salad requires super minimal equipment. You’ll need a large cutting board, sharp knife, large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, a whisk or fork, and measuring cups and spoons. Pretty simple!

How to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To begin, combine the thinly sliced celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in your large mixing bowl. I like to cut the celery on the bias to make it look pretty for serving, but you can cut it any way your heart pleases. I also like the rustic look of the torn romaine leaves, but you could roughly chop them if you must.

In the smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon juice mixture and keep whisking until a vinaigrette forms. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and season once more with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving plate.

At the end, I’ll sometimes garnish with more golden raisins. Sometimes they sink to the bottom of the salad, and I like a few to be resting on top so folks know whats in the salad they’re about to eat. Finally, you’ll top it all with your shaved sharp cheese of choice. SO delicious!

Looking for other quick and fresh salads?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe Ingredients

8-10 stalks celery, stalks thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped

6 romaine leaves, torn

¼ cup golden raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Scant ¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp za’atar 

2 oz sharp cheese, such as parmesan or aged provolone, shaved 

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon mixture and continue whisking until a vinaigrette forms.
  3. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, season once more with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
  4. Top with the shaved cheese and additional golden raisins if desired. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad is a healthy main-course salad that still feels hearty and keeps you full. Loaded with crisp veggies, salty feta, and slightly spicy harissa chicken thighs, this salad is perfect for a weeknight or busy weekend meal. To save even more time, you can buy pre-marinated harissa chicken thighs from everyone’s favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s, or try my delicious copycat recipe, available here. I love topping this salad with a quick homemade lemony herb dressing (details included in recipe), but if you aren’t in the mood to make your own, I would highly recommend a store-bought ranch.

Ingredients needed to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

My recipe for Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad includes some of my favorite veggies to add to a salad, but don’t let me stop you there. In my experience, the more a salad has in it, the better it gets. This would also be delicious with some halved cherry tomatoes, a different kind of cheese, fresh corn, roasted broccoli, etc. The options for customization are endless! Here’s the full list of ingredients for the salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Harissa chicken thighs (recipe here)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (I love watermelon radishes in this salad)
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Cilantro

If you also want to make my favorite easy dressing that compliments this salad perfectly, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tahini
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This salad comes together using the most minimal of kitchen tools. All you need is a few kitchen staples and you’re ready to eat! I used the following tools to make this salad happen:

  • Large cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large mixing bowl or serving plate
  • Small mixing bowl, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Measuring cups and spoons, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Whisk, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Air fryer, optional if making homemade crispy chickpeas

How to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This dish is as simple as chopping and plating. If you plan to make your own harissa chicken thighs using my recipe, you’ll want to do that as the first step. The chicken thighs don’t take very long as they’re absolutely worth the effort, trust me!

You’ll begin by chopping everything you need for the salad, including the lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Add it all to a large mixing bowl or serving plate, crumble the feta and sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top, then add the crispy chickpeas. You can make these using a simple recipe for Air Fryer crispy chickpeas, available here, or just grab a bag of them already made from the store.

To make the lemony herb dressing, combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively, you could add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender for an even smoother consistency, but I personally enjoy the texture of the chopped herbs in this dressing. Both methods are excellent and the flavor remains the same!

Slice the chicken and add it to the salad, then drizzle all over with the lemony herb dressing (or dressing of your choice)! It’s so good and the perfect hearty salad for any day of the week.

Looking for other simple, healthy recipes?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

Harissa Chicken Thighs, cooked and chopped (store-bought available at Trader Joe’s, or homemade)

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced or shredded

Handful of assorted radishes, thinly sliced 

1 avocado, quartered 

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 cup crispy chickpeas (store-bought, or homemade)

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped, for serving

For the Lemony Herb Dressing

⅛ cup tahini

Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

1 TBSP dijon mustard

⅛ cup finely chopped cilantro

3 TBSP water, or more if thinner consistency is desired

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine the chopped lettuce, cucumber, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl or arrange on a serving plate. Crumble the feta and scatter the pomegranate arils and crispy chickpeas on top.
  2. Make the dressing, if using. Add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, dijon mustard, cilantro, water, salt, and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Slice the chicken and arrange it on top of the salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. To store in the fridge, do not dress the salad. Leftovers keep very well undressed in an airtight container, with the dressing added once you are ready to eat. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a gourmet take on a traditional vegetable side. The days of steaming cauliflower are over and have been replaced by roasting. I know everyone is probably up to their ears in cauliflower recipes, from cauliflower rice to cauliflower mash to cauliflower Alfredo sauce. Lucky for you, I’m not trying to disguise cauliflower as anything but its own true self in this recipe, which is delicious!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

It goes without saying that you’ll need a pretty large head of cauliflower, or two small ones, to make this recipe. In addition, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Jarred pesto (I prefer using store-bought here because we’re incorporating it into a dressing… if we we’re having pesto pasta, I’d obviously recommend homemade)
  • White wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Pitted green olives
  • Dried cranberries
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I always start this portion of the recipe by recommending you invest in a good set of knives. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge into a full knife block, at least get yourself a chef’s knife that has some weight to it. Here is the knife block set I’ve had for two years (and they still look and feel brand new), or an option for just the chef’s knife. In addition, you’ll need a cutting board, large rimmed sheet pan, and a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid (or a mixing bowl and whisk).

How to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I love this recipe because you can “set it and forget it” for the most part. The only real cooking involved is roasting the cauliflower, which takes about 20-25 minutes. During that time you can easily gather all the other ingredients you need, quickly toast the almonds in a skillet, shake up the dressing, while still having time to prepare the rest of your meal. When the cauliflower is finished roasting, you’ll layer on the olives, cranberries, and toasted almonds, then drizzle the dressing over the top. Give it a final season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and you’re ready to enjoy!

Looking for other delicious vegetable sides?

Try these other vegetarian sides from The Ardent Cook.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

Herbed Carrot Salad

Grilled Zucchini with Feta Cheese and Zesty Oregano Chimi

Recipe Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup jarred pesto 

2 ½ tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp honey

¼ cup pitted green olives, halved

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower on a large rimmed baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft and has browned slightly. 
  2. Combine the pesto, white wine vinegar, and honey in a large mixing bowl or mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Whisk (or shake, if using a mason jar) vigorously until the dressing is combined. 
  3. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir them frequently and watch closely until browned and fragrant. 
  4. Transfer cauliflower to a serving dish. Top with the olives, cranberries, and almonds. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately, while the cauliflower is still warm. If you don’t use all of the dressing, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Somewhere in the depths of my soul there’s a small child screaming about pumpkins, Halloween, spooky things, Hocus Pocus, and the whole nine yards. She’s not just screaming during this particular time of year, but every season. I long for 50-60 degree weather, coziness, comforting recipes, and warm smells wafting from the kitchen. It’s why I can’t leave the northeast, for fear of losing fall. And it’s also why I’m beginning to light fall candles at the start of September, while it’s still 86 degrees midday, and creating fall recipes like this one.

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins is the perfect segue from late summer to fall in my mind. You still have the crisp notions of a salad, perfect for warm weather eating, but the flavors are comforting and hearty. The warm flavors of the salad are perfectly balanced by a not-too-sweet, not-too-tangy orange vinaigrette. It’s delicious!

Ingredients needed to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The ingredients list is simple. For the salad itself, you’ll need 1-2 heads kale (I prefer tuscan kale, but any variety works), one bag of frozen butternut squash cubes (you could also use fresh and roast it at 425 until it’s tender and caramelized, if you can find a fresh butternut squash this early in the season), blue cheese crumbles, golden raisins, and roasted salted pepitas. I love using pepitas not only for their flavor, but because they are high in loads of good stuff like zinc, magnesium, iron, and manganese. Give a quick google search re: those vitamins/minerals and why they are great to supplement in your diet (I’m not a dietician, so doing your own research is critical here).

For the orange vinaigrette, you will need the following:

-Juice and zest of 1 large orange

Olive oil

Apple cider vinegar

-Garlic powder

-Onion powder

-Ground nutmeg (I buy whole nutmeg and grind it using this tool– the flavor is so incredible compared to pre-ground)

-Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The tools needed to make this salad are so minimal, so I’ve listed them instead of providing the usual explanations for each item:

Medium cast-iron skillet

-Large mixing bowl

-Small mixing bowl

Large chef’s knife

-Cutting board

-Whisk

-Box grater or microplane (for zesting)

-Measuring spoons/cups

Nutmeg grinder (optional)

How to make Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

The process to make this salad is incredibly simple, as with most salads. You begin by removing the kale from the stems and thinly chopping it. At this point I typically massage the kale with a little olive oil and sea salt and let it sit while I prep the rest of the salad. This helps break the kale down and make it tender, rather than chewy. I also think it releases some of the bitterness from the leaves.

I’ve chosen to use frozen butternut squash cubes in this recipe because I haven’t found any fresh butternut squashes in my local stores yet. Frozen is easy and less time-consuming, although it doesn’t get as caramelized as roasting a fresh squash. If you wanted to roast a fresh squash, that would be lovely. Simply cut into cubes, drizzle it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 425 until tender and browned on the edges. If you go the frozen route, sauté in olive oil over medium heat with salt and pepper until the squash is cooked through.

All that’s left to do is make the dressing, which comes together in one bowl. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil, then slowly stream it in while whisking constantly to make the vinaigrette.

To assemble the salad, transfer the kale to a serving bowl or large rimmed plate. Layer the butternut squash, blue cheese, golden raisins, and pepitas, then drizzle with the orange vinaigrette. Done!

Looking for more delicious salad recipes?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook to satisfy your green tooth!

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Curried Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Recipe Ingredients

For the Salad

1 head kale, stems removed and finely chopped

1 10-12oz bag frozen butternut squash, or 1 ½ cups roasted butternut squash

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup blue cheese crumbles

¼ cup roasted, salted pepitas

For the Orange Vinaigrette

Juice and zest of 1 large orange (about ⅛ cup)

⅛ cup olive oil

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

⅛ tsp garlic powder

⅛ tsp onion powder

⅛ tsp salt

Dash ground nutmeg (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Wash and dry kale thoroughly. Remove the stems from the kale and discard. Finely chop the leaves and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then massage oil and salt into the kale using your hands. Let sit while you prepare the other components.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the frozen butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Make the dressing. Combine orange juice and zest, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using) and whisk until mixed. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Assemble the salad. Transfer the massaged kale to a serving bowl or plate, then arrange the butternut squash, blue cheese, golden raisins, and pepitas on top. Drizzle generously with the orange vinaigrette. Serve and enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

The end of summer is drawing near and people are beginning to get in their last socially distant barbecues. I’ve been invited to a few and this Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch is what I’ve been turning to as my food contribution. Studded with crisp bacon, minced shallots, and chewy raisins, this easy Broccoli Salad is only made better by the homemade Greek yogurt ranch dressing. It’s a healthy alternative to store-bought ranch and takes less than five minutes to make, plus I’d argue it tastes better than the original!

Ingredients needed to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

The ingredients for Broccoli Salad are probably self-explanatory. I’ll give you a hint- they involve broccoli. You’ll need a large head of broccoli, one or two shallots, 6 slices of bacon, and raisins. For the Quick Homemade Ranch, it’ll require plain Greek yogurt, a few tablespoons of water, fresh parsley, fresh chives, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper! It’s simple and flavorful in under five minutes!

Tools used to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Since there is barely any real “cooking” required for this recipe, the tools you need are minimal. As always, a good chef’s knife is essential in the kitchen for everything from chopping the broccoli to mincing the fresh herbs. Here is my favorite. In addition, you’ll need a medium skillet to crisp your bacon, such as this one. I love it because it uses hard-anodized aluminum to create a nonstick surface, rather than traditional teflon that can leach chemicals into your food. It’s durable and cleans SO easily.

Other than a knife and skillet, you’ll need a few basics such as a large mixing bowl, cutting board, measuring tools, and a whisk. Hopefully you already have most of those items stocked in your kitchen and can get right to salad-making!

How to make Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

This recipe involves very little real cooking, so it’s perfect to do with kids or if you don’t want to put forth a lot of effort. You begin by crisping up 6 slices of bacon, which is truly the only time you need to turn on the stove. Chop the cooked bacon, along with the broccoli and shallots, and add to a bowl with the raisins. To make the dressing, simply combine all remaining ingredients and whisk. Drizzle it over your broccoli and enjoy! I love to chill this salad for a few hours before eating, so it’s great to make-ahead or use for meal prep. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

If you’re a ranch fiend like I am, feel free to double the recipe and save whatever you don’t use on your salad for dipping veggies, pizza crust, or drizzling over pretty much anything. It’s so yummy and stores for 4-5 days when kept in an airtight container!

Looking for other healthy side dishes?

Check out these other recipes for some more of my favorite healthy sides.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

Crunchy Sesame Coleslaw

Recipe Ingredients

1 large head broccoli, chopped into small pieces

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped 

1 shallot, diced

¼ cup raisins

½ cup greek yogurt

3-4 tbsp water 

⅛ cup fresh parsley

⅛ cup fresh chives

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Recipe Instructions

  1. Crisp the bacon in a medium skillet until cooked through, then chop. 
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces and add to a large mixing bowl, along with the cooked bacon, diced shallots, and raisins. 
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the greek yogurt, herbs, spices, salt, and pepper. Add water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and whisk until you reach your desired consistency. 
  4. Pour dressing over the salad and fold to incorporate. Chill for 30 minutes or overnight, then serve cold. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Believe me when I say I’m a firm believer in loaded salads, like, no-room-left-in-the-bowl salads. But, when it comes to weeknight dinners, I’m looking for simple. This salad is just that, and it’s the perfect balance of flavors while not feeling fussy.

When I originally tested this recipe, I used watercress that I found at the farmer’s market. It was SO good. Slightly bitter, slightly sweet, and the leaves are so tender. But, when I went to do a second test, I couldn’t find the damn leaves anywhere. So, I chose arugula for its similarly bitter flavor profile and it was still delish. I would urge you to try the watercress version, if you can find it, but don’t sweat if arugula is the only thing available. Both options are amazing.

If there were ever a contest for who can drink salad dressing the fastest, I think I’d win with this vinaigrette. It’s tart yet warm and compliments the charred corn so well. I’ve drizzled this stuff on everything from salad to grilled vegetables to warm bread. SO good.

I hope you try this crisp salad recipe and share how it tasted by tagging me @theardentcook in your photos on Instagram! I love seeing how you guys are enjoying the content I put out, and it makes all the difference in helping me grow my passion project!

Ingredients

3oz baby arugula

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium cucumber, sliced into rounds

¼ white onion, thinly sliced

2 ears Best Ever Grilled Corn

⅓ cup lime juice (about 1 ½ limes)

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp honey

½ tsp salt

Pepper, a few cracks

2 tablespoons olive oil

Microgreens, such as micro watercress or micro arugula, if desired (see recipe*)

Instructions

  1. Grill the corn according to the recipe for Best Ever Grilled Corn. Shuck and slice corn off of the cob. 
  2. Combine the lime juice, honey, cumin, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and whisk until emulsified. 
  3. Assemble the salad and toss with the vinaigrette. *If desired, top with micro greens (such as micro watercress or micro arugula) for an added bitter element. Enjoy!

Crunchy Sesame Coleslaw

In the summer months, I’m constantly looking for side dishes that are quick, cold, and don’t have ingredients that will spoil if left out in the sun for a few hours. This crisp coleslaw is the perfect option!

I chose to add bean sprouts and sesame oil instead of the traditional all-cabbage and mayo blend. It’s unexpected but absolutely delicious, and the ingredients themselves are cheap to feed a crowd. Pair it with all of your summer favorites, and don’t be afraid to walk away from the table for a yard game… it won’t spoil all too fast!

If you give this coleslaw a try, don’t forget to share your photos and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram! Have a great weekend!

Ingredients

3 cups shredded cabbage

2 cups bean sprouts

1 cup broccoli slaw

½ cup scallions, diced 

¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1.5 TBSP)

Juice of ½ lime

2 TBSP plain Greek yogurt

1 TBSP sriracha, or more to taste

5 TBSP toasted sesame oil

2 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted in a pan 

Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, bean sprouts, broccoli slaw, and scallions.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger, lime juice, greek yogurt, sriracha, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with an additional squeeze of lime and more sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately with grilled seafood, such as shrimp or salmon, or on top of warm rice noodles! 

Herbed Carrot Salad

I’ve been sitting here trying to write this post for about 34 minutes. I’m getting tired, so here it is, and it’s underwhelming!

What isn’t underwhelming is this carrot salad. It’s addictive. If you love warm spices (think cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, etc.) and a combination of herby, sweet, and salty, then you’ll crave this just as much as I do.

The carrots get grated on a box grater, which is arguably the most labor-intensive part of this whole recipe. Then, simply mix the spices, juice a few lemons, and add in your favorite dried fruit for a healthy, Mediterranean-inspired side dish.

I love serving this dish with other Mediterranean-inspired dishes, such as my Mediterranean Grilled Strip Steak or Grilled Zucchini with Feta Cheese and Zesty Oregano Chimi. It’s also GREAT to make ahead, as the flavors mingle and it only gets better with time. Enjoy, and don’t forget to share your photos and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!

Ingredients

6-7 medium carrots, about 1lb 

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp parsley, chopped 

2 tbsp mint, chopped 

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup olive oil

Handful raisins

Handful dried apricots, finely chopped

½ tsp salt

¼ + ⅛ tsp cumin

¼ tsp coriander

⅛ tsp turmeric

⅛ tsp cinnamon

Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Crushed red chili flakes, to taste

Instructions

  1. Finely grate carrots on a box grater or mandolin with grater attachment.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, and chili flakes.
  3. Add grated carrots to a large mixing bowl along with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, mint, and dried fruit. Mix well, then add the spices and mix thoroughly again.
  4. Let chill for 30 minutes prior to serving. While chilling isn’t completely necessary, it really allows the flavors to mingle and therefore is highly recommended. Stir once more after chilling to reincorporate any juices that may be sitting at the bottom of the bowl and serve! 

Honeydew and Feta Summer Salad with Grilled Pork Tenderloin

I posted a question box on my Instagram stories yesterday and was surprised that one of the most requested recipes was for summer salad ideas. Coincidentally, and luckily, I had already tested and photographed this delicious summer salad. The flavor combo is super unique, but trust me- it works.

I paired honeydew melon (one of my favorites) with salty feta cheese, grilled corn, and lemony basil pesto all on a bed of green leaf lettuce from my garden. To make it a real dinner salad, I topped it all with easy grilled pork tenderloin. It’s so fresh and can be eaten on the patio on a muggy summer night without causing you to break a sweat. Winner winner!

To make the lemony basil pesto, simply go the cheater route as I do. It’s literally just store-bought basil pesto (whatever your favorite brand is) mixed with the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon. Easy-peasy. As for the melon, if you hate honeydew (which I can’t even imagine), feel free to swap it for another melon variety such as watermelon on cantaloupe.

I love to serve this salad in large pieces, as I’ve shown in the photo. I cut the melon and feta into big wedges so each person gets a few on their plate. If that’s not your vibe, feel free to cube everything up to make it more of a chopped salad. It’ll still taste great whichever method you choose!

If you give this recipe a try, share all the photos of you enjoying it with a crisp glass of white and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram so I can see them! I hope you love this light summer dish.

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin, about 1-1.5lbs 

Lettuce, such as butterhead or green leaf

2 cups honeydew melon, sliced into wedges

½ cup feta cheese, sliced into wedges

¾ cup Best-Ever Grilled Corn, off the cob

¼ cup basil pesto

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

Fresh herbs, such as basil or cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to high. Season the pork with olive oil, salt, and pepper on all sides.
  2. Grill for approximately 12 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the grill and cover tightly with foil. Let rest for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Make the lemony basil pesto. Combine 1/4 cup of your favorite store-bought pesto with the juice and zest of one lemon. If desired, add a pinch of crush red pepper flakes. Whisk until combined.
  4. Assemble the salad. Place the lettuce in a layer on the bottom of a large serving plate. Arrange the honeydew and feta wedges and scatter the grilled corn. Thinly slice the grilled pork against the grain and arrange on the platter.
  5. Drizzle the platter with the lemony basil pesto and add fresh herbs to garnish. Serve immediately with a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio! Enjoy!