Salad Shake-Up: 7 Sensational Recipes

By Ann Foster Thelen

This spring and summer, shaking up your salad routine is as easy as 1-2-3! Salads are a canvas for creativity using a bounty of Iowa-raised vegetables and wholesome proteins.


This taco salad packs a smooth and rich nutrient punch with a Greek yogurt dressing. Recipe below. Photo credit: Midwest Dairy

A fresh, bountiful salad is a wonderful way to celebrate delicious seasonal produce. Whether at the center of the plant or as a side dish, salads allow Iowa’s homegrown produce and locally raised proteins to shine. From farmers’ market finds to your garden’s goodies, a simple bed of greens turns into a canvas for creativity and the perfect way to create a flavor-packed explosion of goodness.

May is National Salad Month, and we’ve pulled together some refreshing recipes to make shaking up your salad routine as easy as 1-2-3! Pair a variety of crisp and crunchy vegetables with bright and colorful garnishes, such as tomatoes, cheeses and olives; and top with tender and juicy beef, pork or turkey. With delicious toppings, you won’t have to work hard to toss together the perfect meal. And with longer days upon us, it will leave more time for backyard family fun to soak up Iowa’s beautiful spring season.

Usher in Iowa’s warm weather with these stunning salad recipes. Knowing that Iowa’s farmers likely had a hand in raising many of the high-quality ingredients makes every plateful of salad a celebration of the heartland.

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Classic Midwest Chopped Salad


Classic Midwest Chopped Salad.

There’s a reason this salad is called a classic – it’s everything Midwest and more! Carrots, green onions, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and bacon provide a classic crunch, while sweet corn, ham and tomatoes give it a traditional Midwest flair. Garnished with hard-boiled eggs and cheddar cheese, this salad showcases foods Iowa is known for and more. A homemade ranch dressing, complete with mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk and a flavorful bouquet of fresh herbs, tops this iconic salad. It’s a mealtime staple with so many delicious ingredients to satisfy hungry appetites while offering a refreshing dish on a hot summer day! Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: A creamy buttermilk dressing perfectly balances a crisp green salad. The dressing has an extra tanginess because buttermilk is a fermented dairy product. The name buttermilk is somewhat misleading, as it doesn’t contain butter. One serving of buttermilk is a good source of several nutrients, including protein, calcium and riboflavin.

Grilled Spicy Steak Salad with Guacamole Salsa


Grilled Spicy Steak Salad with Guacamole Salsa. Photo credit: Iowa Beef Industry Council

Satisfy your steak craving with this simple salad. Mixed greens, Mandarin oranges and a spicy guacamole salsa will hit the spot. Whether you’re an athlete training for summer competition or a parent balancing a busy schedule with kids’ activities, this Grilled Spicy Steak Salad with Guacamole Salsa is an excellent example of how lean beef can be part of a quick, nutritious and delicious meal. With beef’s versatility, there’s something for everyone on any budget. For example, the top sirloin in this salad is both lean and budget-friendly! Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: The tenderizing properties of lime juice make it a great addition to a steak marinade. The acids in the lime juice penetrate the meat and break down the connective tissue, making it more tender when cooked. With nearly 60% of the recommended daily value for protein in a serving of this salad, you’ll feel full longer, giving you the energy to take on the rest of the day!

Turkey Mango Salad

Add some tango to your grilled turkey salad with the fresh citrusy flavors of mango! The salty-sweet combo is a perfect low-carb option that maximizes summertime flavor. Turkey cutlets are used in this recipe and grilled via direct heat for just 5 to 7 minutes per side (or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F). Turkey is a terrific protein on the grill, pairing well with both fruits and vegetables. Find the recipe here.


Turkey Mango Salad. Photo credit: Iowa Turkey Federation

Fresh Facts: Turkey cutlets are boneless slices of turkey breast. They are typically sliced very thin or cut a little thicker, then pounded thin. Turkey’s versatility makes it a prime protein option for any cooking method, but the benefits of grilling your turkey all come down to flavor and taste. Because turkey naturally soaks in the spices and ingredients used to season it, grilling opens a variety of flavor options from brining to marinades to rubs.


Herbed Pork and Corn Salad. Photo credit: Iowa Pork Producers Association

Herbed Pork and Corn Salad

A delicious pork roast – grilled, smoked or in the slow cooker on a rainy spring day – is always a welcome meal in every season. Turn the leftover roasted pork into a sensational salad. Fresh-from-the-garden herbs – rosemary, thyme, basil and sage – mix and mingle with the natural flavors of pork, giving it extraordinary flavor. Put your culinary skills to the test by experimenting with different herbs and ingredients to create a salad masterpiece. During peak sweet corn season (we can’t wait!), shuck fresh corn and use it straight off the cob in this quintessential Iowa salad. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: The Institute of Medicine suggests that about 10-35% of your total daily calories should come from protein, and of that protein, they recommend about 20 to 30 grams per meal to help maintain muscle mass and function. Eating twice the recommended amount of protein has been linked to beneficial effects on muscle and body composition, leg power, weight loss, weight management, and healthy aging. There is a whopping 24 grams of protein in every 3 ounces of pork loin roast!

Taco Salad Two Ways


Here’s one way to please a crowd – easily make this taco salad two ways (one with ground beef and one without), leaning on the fresh and savory flavors of cilantro, chili and more. In the vegetarian option, black beans and walnuts add texture and protein, and in the meat-based version, the hamburger fits the bill. This taco salad packs a smooth and rich nutrient punch with a Greek yogurt dressing. Whether family members or guests want a salad with meat or just vegetables, both tastes will be satisfied without double the work! Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Greek yogurt is the perfect way to add creaminess (without the actual cream!) to salad dressings. It is yogurt that has been strained to remove most of its whey, resulting in a thicker consistency than normal unstrained yogurt while still preserving the distinctive sour taste. Combined with honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and fresh cilantro, the yogurt beautifully absorbs the classic Southwest salad dressing flavors.

Fresh Arugula and Couscous Salad


Fresh Arugula and Couscous Salad. Photo credit: Iowa Egg Council

Couscous and hard-boiled eggs add substance to this fresh salad for a light meal that’s satisfying, too. It’s a delightful salad for an easy lunch or dinner. Couscous is a North African dish made from tiny, steamed balls of semolina flour. While it’s often served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it, it’s a lovely textured food to add to a salad. Although many think of couscous as a grain, it’s actually a pasta and staple food throughout the cuisines of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya. English cucumbers, lemon juice, honey and basil chiffonade add a bit of crunch, sweetness and tartness to every perfect bite. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: Hard-boiled eggs add high-quality protein to this salad, with 15 grams in every serving. Hard-boiled eggs in the shell can be refrigerated for up to a week. It is recommended to refrigerate the eggs in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. Not only are eggs a good source of protein, they also are an excellent source of choline, which studies show to be a superstar nutrient for cognition.

Edamame Greek Salad


Edamame Greek Salad. Photo credit: The Soyfoods Council

A traditional Greek salad consists of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, green bell pepper, red onion, olives and feta cheese. This Greek salad also features edamame, the darling of soyfoods, with its nutritional benefits and subtle flavors. Edamame serves up 11 grams of protein in just half a cup and is rich in healthy fiber, antioxidants and vitamin K. Find the recipe here.

Fresh Facts: The best way to shell fresh edamame is to blanch the edamame first, and then remove it from the pod. Soy has all the essential amino acids our bodies need. It’s a complete protein source, and in 1999, the FDA gave soy protein its “heart-healthy claim,” which finds consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day in a healthy diet may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.