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Cool When It’s Hot

If you’re like me, when the temperature starts rising, it puts me in the mood for a yummy salad. I hosted a small gathering recently and decided, what the heck, take a risk and serve salad for dinner. I know what you’re thinking; a salad is an add-on, not a meal, but the two I chose were meals in a bowl!


Time to fire up the grill and get chopping!  I decided on a steak salad with a Mexican flare and a chopped Asian BBQ chicken salad. Both are full of flavor and make a beautiful presentation in the bowl.  The only other menu item I made was some cheesy garlic bread which was the perfect compliment to the salads.


Typically my guests never know what I might be serving for dinner. Admittingly, I was a bit nervous how it might go over as just a main dish, but let me tell you, it was a hit! I would encourage you, for those warm summer evenings, to try these salads. You will wish for leftovers for the next day! Gather some friends for dinner and enjoy your summer!


Chopped Asian BBQ Chicken Salad With Honey Sesame Crackers


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 breasts)

½ cup hoisin sauce

¼ soy sauce

¼ cup sweet thai chili sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp dijon mustard

½ tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 clove garlic minced or grated

½ lemon juiced

4 cups butter lettuce – chopped

2 carrots – chopped

½ head cabbage – chopped

3 green onions – sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tbsp sesame seeds


Honey Sesame Crackers


2 inch whole wheat tortillas (about 8)

1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

2 tsp sesame seeds


Preheat the grill to medium heat. You may also bake or sear the chicken, if you prefer. Make the Asian BBQ sauce–in a small bowl whisk together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sweet thai chili sauce, sesame oil, honey, dijon mustard, crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic and lemon juice. Add the chicken to a bowl or gallon-size ziplock bag and toss with half the asian BBQ sauce (save the remaining sauce for later). I like to marinate overnight for better flavor. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Once the chicken is finished, let cool and then cut into chunks.


While the chicken is cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tortillas into whatever shape you prefer. I chose squares. Place the tortillas on a greased baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1-½ tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon honey. Brush the sauce all over the upside of the tortillas, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 5-8 minutes. Keep a close watch; they are easy to burn.


To make the salad, combine lettuce, cabbage, carrots and green onions in a large bowl and toss well with olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Add in the chicken and drizzle the salad with the remaining Asian BBQ sauce and serve with the Honey Sesame Crackers.


Mexican Grilled Flank Steak Salad With Honey Lime Dressing


For the Flank Steak

1 flank steak – about 1-½ pounds

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

¼ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp garlic powder


Mix together the spices and rub evenly over both sides of the steak. Allow the steak to sit at least 15 minutes or longer before grilling.


For the Honey Lime Dressing

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp honey

1 garlic clove pressed or minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

⅛ tsp kosher salt

⅛ tsp pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tightly sealed lid. Shake until fully combined.


For the Rest of the Salad

6 cups mixed baby greens (I used baby romaine and arugula)

1 cup cherry tomatoes – sliced or whole

2 ears corn – grilled and cut off the cob

1 large sweet onion

1 avocado – sliced

Baby portabella mushrooms

Shredded mexican cheese

Grill the steak to your liking. Grill the onions until tender. When steak is done, let it rest about 10-15 minutes before slicing. I sliced mine long ways. To assemble the salad, fill the bowl with the mixed greens. Top with corn, onions, tomatoes, avocado, steak slices, mushrooms, and cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Story by: Sandi Caro

Photos by: John Harder/


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