Summer Salads to Cool the Heat

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

This summer the heat has been somewhere between unbearable and downright hot. Finding light meals that are nutritious can challenge the best of us. But this summer I’ve discovered and experimented with salad fixin’s that I want to share with you.

Charred Corn Salad – from Joanna Gaines at

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ears corn
  • Oil, for the grill pan
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium stockpot, bring 6 cups water plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt to a boil. Place the corn into the stockpot and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the corn and pat dry.

Oil a grill pan and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the corn and let cook, using tongs to turn the ears every minute or so, until various kernels are charred, about 10 minutes. Set the corn aside to cool.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate to cool for about 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the corn kernels by standing each cob vertically and cutting down along the cob on all sides. Slice the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls in half, and dice the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn, onion, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and avocado. Sprinkle with the cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and gently toss to combine.

Chill the salad for about 1 hour before serving.

Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Orzo Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette – from the

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

Red Wine Vinaigrette: Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

DiAnn’s Couscous and Chicken Salad

  • 1 chicken breast marinated in salt water overnight
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth – unsalted
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell or red pepper

Heat oil and butter in skillet on medium heat. Slice chicken breast into bit-size pieces. Brown in hot oil and butter. Do not overcook. Add pine nuts. *If you choose to use roasted chicken, toast the pine nuts or sliced almonds in oven and omit oil and butter. Remove from heat.

Bring broth to boil and add couscous. *No salt needed. Cover pan and simmer 8-10 minutes.

Add couscous to chicken and nut mixture. Add olives, tomatoes, green onion, and chopped pepper. Season with salt *if needed. If using marinated chicken, no salt is needed.  Season to taste with garlic.

Serve over spinach leaves. Great warm or cold.

Texas Caviar by Joanna Gaines at

  • Two 15.5-ounce cans of black-eyed peas
  • One 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped drained pickled jalapeño slices
  • 1/2 cup diced red tomato
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, white parts included
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup diced avocado
  • Corn chips or griddled tortillas, for serving

In a large colander, rinse the black-eyed peas and chickpeas with water, then allow the beans to drain.

In a plastic container with a fitted lid, combine the jalapeño, tomato, bell pepper, green onions, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Stir gently to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Before serving, top the dip with the avocado. Serve with corn chips or griddled tortillas.

Store the dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, adding fresh avocado before each use.

Do you have a summer salad recipe to beat the heat?