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Tank tops. Sundresses. Warm weather. Sunshine. Fresh garden veggies. A cold beer. Mountain biking. These are just a few of the things I like about summer. And Memorial Day is just the occasion to welcome this blissful 3-month season.

Dinner salads are fitting for the season – and Memorial Day weekend – as well. They are ideal for creating flavorful themes to beat the heat, accomplished by combining marinades, meats, greens and dressings which complement each other.

Let me explain.

Suppose you go with the Asian theme. If you marinade the meat (e.g., chicken) in an Asian marinade, you can serve it atop greens with an Asian dressing. Add ingredients with “fit” with this flavor theme, such as almonds, cabbage, and mandarin oranges. Check out my recipe for this delicious Asian chicken salad.

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Salmon is a versatile fish that blends nicely with everything from panzella salads to piadines. The ladder consists of arugula, fennel and zucchini squash, served with a lemon vinaigrette. Served on top of flatbread, it’s like a pizza salad!

This wonderful dinner salad for Memorial Day is fruit-themed. The chicken is marinated in a variety of fruit juices, including lemon, lime and orange. It is served on top greens mixed with fruit – pears, raspberries, blackberries – and cheese.  The dressing? You guessed it! It’s a fruit (blackberry) vinaigrette.

Here’s how you make it.

Marinade:

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  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Juice from 1 orange or 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and pour over chicken breasts. Marinate chicken for as long as you can – from 3 hours to all day.

If you are out of one of these fruits/juices, simply substitute with a complementary fruit flavor.

Dressing:

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients and mix in blender or food processor. If you have some fresh herbs available, feel free to add them as well (e.g., basil, oregano, thyme)!

Salad:

  • 1-2 cups of blackberries (or blackberry/raspberry mix)
  • 3/4 cup crumpled goat or feta cheese
  • 1-2 pears, sliced
  • ~8 ounces  of greens (e.g., heirloom lettuce, romaine, arugula)

Mix the salad ingredients and top with the chicken and dressing. YUM!

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And have a great Memorial Day weekend!

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