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Your Guide to Cheesy Salad-Toppers


In the summer, there’s no better no-cook meal than a giant salad made hearty with a generous sprinkling of cheese. And here’s a secret: any cheese can become a salad-topping if you pair it with the appropriate greens and garnishes. 

We laid out the basics for you in our salads with cheese infographic, and our summer issue features a spread on salad mix-ins. But while you’re waiting for your copy in the mail, here are some awesome curd-laden salad recipes to try tonight:

Chèvre

Zippy goat’s milk chèvre might just be the most popular salad-topper (for proof, scan the menu at virtually any restaurant–  you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a seasonal goat cheese salad.) The cheese is fresh and herbaceous, but also creamy and satiating, so you can keep things light without going hungry. Holding tight to notes of spring’s first grasses, chèvre also does a good job coaxing out the flavor of summer’s bountiful produce. For a new take on chèvre, fruit, and greens, try making Food52‘s Arugula Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. The salad pairs salty, sweet, and sour in a multi-textural assemblage of ingredients.

Mozzarella

If caprese salad is the only thing that comes to mind when considering pairing mozzarella with veggies, allow yourself to reconsider. While we love the harmonious union of tomato, basil, and mozzarella (especially if it’s fried), the fresh, milky cheese also complements rich, earthier vegetables like squash. Try 101 Cookbooks’ Roasted Squash, Chile, and Mozzarella Salad, in which buffalo mozzarella brings out the meatiness of delicata squash and tempers the smoky spice of chiles. 

Feta

What to do during those hot, sticky, triple-digit temperature days when you still really want cheese? Definitely don’t reach for the Camembert. These are days that call for feta, which, while light and refreshing, still manages to pack depth of flavor. This Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime, and Mint from Smitten Kitchen  is tangy and fresh– like a mojito in salad form. After a long, hot day, it’s the perfect salad to kick back with. 

Parmesan 

Good news: you can still enjoy parmesan without layering it atop eggplant and standing guard by a hot oven. When sprinkled over a summer salad, parmesan adds a satisfying nuttiness. If you’re trying to get on the kale bandwagon, cut yourself a break and boost the taste factor by adding shaved parmesan to your salad. Your palate will thank you for the buttery accents that the cheese lends the dish. Try Brooklyn Supper‘s recipe for Lemon Parmesan Raw Kale Salad. It’s zesty, spicy, sharp, and healthy to boot!

Blue

We all know blue is a bit of a show-off– always looking for a bed of plain, crunchy iceberg lettuce to offset the complexity of it’s own rich, funky hues. It’s about time we challenge blue to play nicely with other flavorful ingredients. This recipe for Tomato, Fresh Fig, and Blue Cheese Salad from The New York Times combines acidic, sweet, and salty in the best possible way. Come tomato season, whip up this salad for a dish that’s sure to wow the palate. 

Amanda Minoff

Amanda recently graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a degree in English Literature and Art History. She is a reader and writer of fiction and loves cheese that tells a good story.