Healthy Summer Produce Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Summer Produce Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing - Simple and Healthy

“Ripe vegetables were magic to me. Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility. I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green. To lift a bean plant’s hood of  heartshaped leaves and discover a clutch of long slender pods hanging  underneath could make me catch my breath.”
– Michael Pollan

There are few things in life more lovely to look at than a plate of brightly colored vegetables. It’s hard not to be drawn to salads, especially in the summer when all the produce is so ripe and gorgeous. Just walking through the Farmer’s Market (or my own garden, as small as it may be) can make my mouth water this time of year.
This salad has been in the back of my mind all summer, while I waited for the road-side cart of fresh, local sweet corn to arrive and open for business. What is it about produce sold from a rickety old cart by the side of the road that makes it taste so much sweeter? Whatever it is, I have been incredibly spoiled by it, and am no longer willing to buy regular ol’ corn from a supermarket. Luckily my patience (and snobbery) paid off, because this year the corn was better than ever.
You can use this salad as an excuse to buy up every bit of produce you can before summer ends, or throw it together as a quick and easy way to clean-out-the-fridge-of-whatever-needs-to-get-used-up. It’s flexible that way, and great with whatever you have on hand. Since T-Hubs and I are getting ourselves ready for our first ever vacation together (our belated honeymoon), this served as the perfect way to purge the fridge a little before we leave.

If the cilantro and lime dressing isn’t your thing, I’m sure basil and lemon would make a fine substitute. And if you’d like to make a meal out of it, this salad would be perfect with some grilled shrimp, chicken, or steak to top it off. 

Avocado, Ready For a Summer Salad
I had every intention of adding this perfectly ripe avocado to my salad, but completely forgot about it until I was half-way through eating. I feel like a bad avocado owner, letting it sit on my counter while I took photo after photo of that gorgeous salad… poor neglected avocado. The moment I realized my mistake, I rushed to slice it up and add it to what was left. The creamy richness it added was a welcome change of pace among the bright, crunchy vegetables, and I highly recommend using one if you have it.

The amounts in this recipe are all approximate, so feel free to use more or less of whatever you like, or swap ingredients for whatever is freshest or on hand. There are no rules here, just good food.

P.S. — T-Hubs and I are preparing to go on our first ever vacation together! We’ll be hopping a plane to Oregon on Saturday, and kicking back on the beach for just over a week. Don’t worry, though, because I’ve got some incredible bloggers taking over for me while I’m away. There will be no FAK Friday this week, but after that blog posts will continue as usual. I can’t wait to see the coast, and will take lots of pictures to share when we get back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some packing to do — cheers!

Summer Produce Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing - Simple and Healthy

Healthy Summer Produce Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
Gluten-Free, easily made Vegan

For the dressing:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 large limes)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly packed
1-2 TBSP honey, to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2-3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Optional: a dollop of plain greek yogurt, or a spoonful of avocado, to make a creamier dressing

For the salad:
8oz. mixed baby greens
1 small zucchini, ribboned*
1 small yellow squash, ribboned*
1-2 medium carrots, ribboned*
1/2-1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup snap peas, trimmed and halved
1-2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 ears fresh sweet corn, grilled
1 ripe avocado, sliced or cut into cubes
Optional: 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
Optional: grilled shrimp, chicken, steak, or other protein
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

*I used a vegetable peeler to make the ribbons. Alternatively you could make thin slices, or just chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.


For the dressing: Combine everything in the bowl of your food processor or blender, and blend to combine. Add a dollop of yogurt, or a few cubes of fresh avocado, if you prefer a creamier dressing. Pour into a jar or other container and store in the fridge. Shake well before use.

For the salad: Place the baby greens on the bottom of a large serving platter or bowl. Arrange ribboned and sliced vegetables on top. Add the peas, cherry tomatoes, corn, and avocado. Top with crumbled feta or goat cheese and whatever protein you like (optional), and sprinkle a with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.


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13 Responses to Healthy Summer Produce Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

  1. Eileen August 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Just look at all those beautiful summer vegetables! This looks like the best possible lunch for a hot day. :)

  2. movita beaucoup August 14, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I NEED this dressing in my life! This salad sounds absolutely gorgeous… When you add corn and avocado to a salad? It takes it to the next level, my friend. NEXT LEVEL!! Plus, corn and avocado love lime and cilantro. That’s a food fact.

    Happy vacation! Don’t forget to pack clean underwear.

    • Willow Arlen August 17, 2013 at 2:26 am #

      I like that food fact. It’s like a foursome of awesome. And thanks for the tip, I was totally planning to bring a load of dirty laundry with me, but now that you mention it, I think I’ll wash it first…

  3. Abby August 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    This is just lovely! I’m with you, fresh summer corn is the best and I particularly love that you grilled it, sweet and smoky all in one bite!

    • Willow Arlen August 17, 2013 at 2:28 am #

      Absolutely! Sweet corn is one of my favorite things about summer, especially grilled!

  4. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl August 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    What a gorgeous salad! I was commenting to my husband yesterday that I need to take a wagon with me to the farmer’s market this time of year because I want to buy EVERYTHING! Have a wonderful time in Oregon! (my home state…:)

  5. Monica McGuiness August 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    I have guests over on Sunday. This is the idea dish. My friend doesn’t like cilantro, so I am going to make the dressing with another herb, maybe dill. Thx.

  6. Monica McGuiness August 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    I know I must be blind, but where is your subscribe button?

    • Willow Arlen August 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      No worries! On the right-hand sidebar there is a box where you can enter your email to subscribe that way, and below tgat there should be a green “feedly” button, too. Otherwise you could manually add the homepage URL to google reader, or whatever reader you use… sadly, my google reader button stopped working and I haven’t figured out how to fix it just yet.

      Hope that helps!

  7. ktylerjames August 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    How many servings does this recipe make? I’m looking to feed three people with fairly healthy appetites.

    • Willow Arlen August 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      The dressing makes about 1 1/4 cups (way more than you’ll need). As for the salad it’s kind of hard to say. Are you adding some kind of protein to it to make it a meal, or will the salad be a side to something else? I would say it’s plenty for three if you’re serving it with a main, otherwise you might want to double the recipe just to be safe.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Jessica Serdikoff August 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi there! My name is Jessica, and I run a food blog, Floptimism. Every week I write a Weekend Wrap-Up post where I share some of my favorite web finds from the past week. I stumbled across this salad recipe and thought it was so stunning and sounded so delicious, that I had to feature it on this week’s round up! I’ve included the link below in case you’re interested. Thank you for a great recipe idea (and gorgeous photography!), and I hope you’ve enjoyed the weekend!

  9. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes August 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    I absolutely adore salads like this! Justin is not a fab of cilantro so I will have to try out the lemon basil flavor combo, which in my mind is a win!

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