We all have those nights — you know, the ones where you fall back on your familiar, go-to dinner. At our house, especially in summer, that meal is grilled chicken breasts (coated with a combo of mayonnaise and mustard first to stay moist) sliced over a simple green salad. But, oy, we can do so much better, I remind myself, without a whole lot more effort. There are so many great ways to knock the salad-plus-protein combo out of the park.

You can start by switching up your greens. A Spinach Cobb Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, Avocado and Derby Dressing adds baby spinach to the traditional Bibb lettuce. Make it local with Grey Barn’s Bluebird cheese and bacon. Or turn your lettuce into “wraps” with this recipe for Asian Grilled Chicken and Bibb Lettuce Wraps with dipping sauce. (Using thighs instead of breasts and a quick soy-lime-cilantro marinade doesn’t hurt either.)

To make your greens mix more substantial, add shredded cabbage: A Grilled Sesame Asparagus and Portobello Salad with Napa and Spinach Slaw also gets some heft from the meaty flavor of grilled portobellos (though you could use protein-packed MV Mycological shiitakes, too.)

And by the way, Lisa Fisher of Stannard Farms was still selling her own asparagus at Saturday’s farmers’ market. Her patch is quite old which means it can be harvested longer. But you could also use snap peas in this salad. (Read: Let There Be Peas.)


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