Fresh cucumbers will soon be in season, and their delicate crunch and mild flavor is perfect in salads and soups to offset spicy summer dishes. Cucumbers pair best with stronger flavored foods such as feta cheese, vinegars or with other in-season veggies for a healthy summer salad.
Restaurants, cookbooks and food magazines are paying more attention to "power salads" that offer vegetables, fruits, lean protein and other healthy foods to create a complete meal. One food editor said cooked vegetables or grains, rather than lettuce, can serve as the base of a salad.
Chefs in Los Angeles are giving the classic chopped salad new textures and nontraditional flavors to help it regain its popularity. The chef at Foundry on Melrose tosses diced red-purple beets, roasted butternut squash, fennel, celery, cucumber, currants, piquillo peppers and pistachios into his new version of the chopped salad. Most cooks also suggest switching from iceburg lettuce to greens such as romaine and radicchio.
Quinoa, a food staple considered sacred by the Incas thousands of years ago, is experiencing a modern renaissance as a gluten-free grain, a complete protein and a versatile health food for use in breads, cereals and beverages. Shauna James Ahern offers quinoa recipes on her blog "Gluten-Free Girl," including a fruit-crumble topping with quinoa flakes, red quinoa topped with butternut squash, tofu and red peppers, and a summery quinoa salad with smoked salmon and capers.