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A big advantage of living in the Upper East Side of Texas is access to a variety of fresh produce at local farmers’ markets. Small farmers sell locally-grown fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, eggs, meats, and honey, as well as a variety of homemade treats such as baked goods, jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes.

With so much fresh produce available, it helps to have several recipes on hand for everyday meals. These sweet and savory salad recipes offer ideas for preparing local fruits and veggies as tasty sides or hearty entreés.

The Honeyed Melon Salad, Spiced Sweet Potato Salad, and Zesty Greek Salad make perfect side dishes especially for family gatherings, potluck meals, and picnics. 

The Strawberry Spinach Salad and the Mediterranean Salad can stand on their own as side servings or vegetarian entrees. Both make a satisfying main course when served with rotisserie chicken, grilled or baked salmon or tuna, or seared steak strips. Add a loaf of French bread or a bowl of rice or pasta to feed bigger appetites. 

Beans, chickpeas, nuts, and yogurt make good protein additions for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

While enjoying this sweet salad, our taste buds are easily tricked into thinking we’re enjoying a dessert instead of a healthy salad. Flavors from the raspberry vinaigrette dressing,  strawberries, and goat cheese dominate the subtle spinach flavor with a robust tang. 

Shopping list: 

1 pint strawberries 

Baby spinach

Roasted or candied nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans)

Crumbled goat cheese

Salad oil: olive, avocado, or pecan

Raspberry or strawberry preserves

Red wine vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar

Combine in a large bowl: 

8-10 ounces baby spinach

1 cup sliced strawberries

4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup candied or roasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans

Raspberry vinaigrette dressing

In a small bowl combine: 

2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry preserves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of light salad oil (olive, pecan, or avocado) 

Whisk together dressing ingredients then pour over salad and toss. 

Serves four as a side salad or two as a main course. Delicious with rotisserie chicken.

Mediterranean Salad

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This savory salad packs vitamins, protein, fiber, and rich Mediterranean flavor. The roasted red peppers and onions are the standout ingredients and can’t be skipped, although the absence of cucumber or tomato will not detract significantly from the overall flavor. 

Savory protein additions include steak strips, rotisserie chicken, salmon, or tuna. Add more chickpeas and nuts and skip the Feta cheese for vegan diets. 

Shopping list: 

1-2 bell peppers (any color)

1 cucumber

1/2 red onion

8-10 ounces salad greens

1 Beefsteak or Heirloom tomato

1 cucumber 

1 can cooked chickpeas

Crumbled Feta cheese

Roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans)

Balsamic vinegar

Salad oil: olive, avocado, or pecan

Directions: 

Slice ½ onion and bell peppers. Spray with oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes in an oven at 350°. In a large bowl, toss salad greens, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, ½ cup chickpeas, 4 tablespoons of crumbled Feta cheese, and roasted nuts.

Vinaigrette 

Mix 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons salad oil. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss, and serve. 

Serves two as a main dish or four side salads. 

Honeyed Melon Salad

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Melon salad perfectly complements brunch or lunch entrees — from omelets and quiche to soups and sandwiches. To avoid having leftover melon, prepare double or triple portions of this salad ahead of time for any potluck brunch or luncheon, or make an extra bowl to add a sophisticated addition to family meals or picnics. 

Shopping list: 

1/2 watermelon 

1 cantaloupe 

1 honeydew melon

1 pint strawberries or red seedless grapes

Honey 

Lime juice

Directions: 

Cube 3 cups watermelon, 2 cups cantaloupe, and 2 cups honeydew melon. Rinse and slice 1 cup strawberries or grapes. Place melon and strawberries or grapes in a large bowl, toss thoroughly, and drain excess juices.

Honey dressing

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon lime juice

Whisk honey, mayonnaise, and lime juice together in a small bowl. 

Pour honey dressing over melon mixture, combine, and stir. Serve chilled. 

Serves four as a side salad with soup, sandwiches, salmon, quiche, omelets, or as a light dessert. 

Spiced Sweet Potato Salad 

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A wholesome side dish, this potato salad gets its sweetness from sweet potatoes instead of added sugar. Pair this salad with poultry or pork entrees such as chicken, turkey legs, barbecued ribs, or pulled pork sandwiches.

Shopping list: 

1 pint red potatoes 

1-2 sweet potatoes (1 large or two small) 

1/2 red onion

Honey

Spices: chili powder, curry, cumin

Mayonnaise 

Directions:

Boil or bake one large or two small sweet potatoes and 6-8 small red potatoes. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. 

Peel sweet potatoes and cut roughly into cubes. Cube red potatoes, leaving skin on. Combine with sweet potatoes. Add 1/2 cup mayonnaise and toss with 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon curry, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 pinch of cumin. Add chili pepper flakes as desired for additional spiciness. Toss and serve as a filling side dish. Serves four.

Zesty Greek Salad

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Combining tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion with tasty cilantro, olives, and Feta cheese, this savory salad is already a year-round favorite in many households around the region. The multitude of tomatoes and cucumbers in local summer gardens make this recipe indispensable in July and early August when plants are swelling with produce. 

Market shopping list: 

2 cucumbers 

1 Beefsteak or Heirloom tomato

1 red or yellow onion

4 ounces crumbled Feta cheese

1 small can of black olives

Salad oil: olive, avocado, or pecan

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl:

Two cucumbers, skinned and sliced

1/2 small red or yellow onion, sliced thin or chopped 

1 Beefsteak or Heirloom tomato, sliced thin or chopped

3 tablespoons Feta cheese

1/4 cup sliced black olives

Red wine vinaigrette dressing

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of light salad oil (olive, pecan, or avocado)

Whisk together dressing ingredients then pour over salad and toss. 

Delicious with rotisserie chicken, seared beef strips, or grilled or baked salmon. Serves four as a side salad.

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