A little of this, a few bits of that, and voila: Salad


One way to transition into lighter meals is with salads that take advantage of leftovers.

Take a little leftover meat, toss it with a few choice greens and other vegetables, and another dinner comes together quickly and with little effort.

To make these salads substantial enough to call them dinner, consider adding a starch. Potatoes, beans, pasta, rice, couscous or quinoa all will help make for a salad that keeps you full until the next meal. Croutons help do the trick, too.

Making this kind of salad can be as simple as tossing whatever ingredients are on hand with a favorite bottled salad dressing. Of course, some meats pair better with certain vegetables and dressings.

Steak, for instance, stands up to creamy and strongly flavored blue-cheese dressing. Chicken and fish do better with a lighter vinaigrette. Pork goes great with mustard, so a Dijon vinaigrette is a natural choice.

The list of vegetables that can go in these salads is nearly endless. In addition to the usual carrots, celery, onions and cucumbers, consider blanched asparagus or green beans, olives, marinated artichokes, radishes, bell peppers, fennel, avocados and chile peppers. Other additions include nuts, hard-cooked eggs and cheese.

And feel free to choose different kinds of salad greens, such as baby spinach, arugula, a mesclun mix or maybe a combination of such lettuces.

To keep your salad from seeming like a jumble, limit the vegetables to four to six.

Certain combinations of meat and vegetables seem made for each other, but personal preference rules here. I like steak with potatoes and celery with either arugula or spinach. Fish, especially tuna, goes well with olives and beans. Pork marries well with red bell peppers and citrus fruit, such as oranges. Chicken works wonderfully with asparagus, artichokes or both.

Below are a few of my favorite salads. Feel free to mix and match vegetables and dressings to find your favorite way of springing into salad season.


1 pound cooked sirloin, flank or other beef, cubed

1 cup cooked new potatoes, quartered (3 to 4)

1‚Ñ2 red onion, thinly sliced

1‚Ñ2 cup chopped celery

1 cup grated carrots

1‚Ñ2 cup sliced radishes

4 to 6 cups baby spinach

Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe below)

In a large bowl, combine the beef, potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, radishes and spinach. Toss well.

Divide mixture among 4 plates. Top each with about 2 tablespoons of dressing, or serve dressing on the side.


4 to 6 tablespoons buttermilk

1‚Ñ4 cup mayonnaise

1‚Ñ4 cup sour cream

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, such as Maytag or Roquefort (about 2‚Ñ3 cup)

2 tablespoons grated onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix buttermilk, mayonnaise and sour cream until smooth. Stir in cheese, onion, garlic and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated up to 5 days.

Makes about 1-1‚Ñ2 cups.


12 to 16 ounces cooked skinless, boneless chicken, cut in bite-size pieces

1 bunch asparagus (12 to 20 spears), ends trimmed, blanched and cut into 11‚Ñ2-inch pieces

1‚Ñ2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1‚Ñ2 cup sliced scallions (4 to 6)

2 to 3 cups cooked and cooled rice or couscous

Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

4 to 6 cups spring or mesclun salad mix

In a large bowl toss chicken, asparagus, artichokes and scallions until combined. Stir in rice or couscous. Stir in about 1‚Ñ4 cup of the vinaigrette or to taste.

Divide salad greens among 4 plates. Top with an equal amount of chicken mixture. Top each with about 1 tablespoon more vinaigrette or serve vinaigrette on the side.

Makes 4 servings.


1‚Ñ4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallot, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Add shallot, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate up to five days.

Makes about 3‚Ñ4 cup.


1 to 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-size chunks

1 teaspoon lemon, lime or orange juice

12 to 16 ounces boneless cooked pork chop or tenderloin, trimmed of fat, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cored, seed and chopped red pepper

1‚Ñ2 red onion, thinly sliced

4 to 6 cups mixed greens

1‚Ñ2 cup orange segments, optional

Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

1 cup croutons

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle the avocado chunks with citrus juice. Gently toss until well coated. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the pork, red pepper, onion, salad greens and orange segments, if using. Gently stir in avocados.

Divide pork mixture among 4 plates. When ready to serve, top with croutons and cheese. Ladle 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette over each salad and serve remaining dressing on the side.

Makes 4 servings.


2 tablespoons sherry wine or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, smashed to a paste

6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, mustard and garlic in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate up to five days.

Makes about 1‚Ñ2 cup.


2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1‚Ñ4 cup good-quality black or green olives, drained, pitted and chopped

12 ounces tuna, salmon or other cooked fish, flaked, or 2 6-ounce cans albacore tuna, drained

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if large

Caper Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Lettuce, optional

Chopped fresh basil

In a large bowl combine beans, onion and olives. Toss well. Add fish, cherry tomatoes and 1‚Ñ4 cup of the vinaigrette. Serve on bed of lettuce if desired. Sprinkle each salad with some chopped fresh basil. Pass remaining vinaigrette at the table.

Makes 4 servings.


1‚Ñ4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed

1 clove minced garlic

1‚Ñ2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix lemon juice, capers and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate up to five days.

Makes about 1 cup.

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