Savory and Spectacular Salads

By Ann Foster Thelen

Discover new salad recipes to celebrate fresh produce. Paired with Iowa-grown and raised ingredients, these dishes will have you savoring the flavors of the season.

A fresh and beautiful salad is a wonderful way to incorporate delicious seasonal produce into meal planning. From farmers market finds to your garden’s bounty, a simple bed of greens becomes 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 a collection of recipes to usher in Iowa’s warm weather. These recipes pair well with a variety of fruits and vegetables, bright and colorful garnishes, and perfect proteins. With delicious toppings, you won’t have to work hard to toss together a delightful meal. And with longer days upon us, it will leave more time for backyard family fun to soak up Iowa’s beauty.

Knowing that Iowa’s farmers likely had a hand in raising many of the high-quality ingredients in these salads makes every plateful a celebration of the heartland.

Please note, by clicking the following links, you’ll be leaving a partially funded checkoff site.

Grilled Steak and Watermelon Salad | Iowa Beef Industry Council

Watermelon is a quintessential food for backyard barbecues and picnics. It’s paired with steak, and both are grilled and served to create a bright and colorful salad. Beef tenderloin is used in this recipe, which is one of the most tender pieces of meat. It is soft, juicy and flavorful. The beef is seasoned with coriander and cumin – a dynamite spice duo. Coriander has a light, bright and slightly sweet flavor. Rich and hearty, earthy and warm, with an edge of citrus, cumin adds instant depth of flavor. This recipe is perfect for warm temperatures and is packed with protein and zinc to fuel summertime fun. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: Iowa Beef Industry Council

Colorful Slaw Salad | Iowa Egg Council

You won’t need to wait for a rain shower to see a beautiful rainbow; you can find one right on a plate with this gorgeous salad. This recipe features cabbage, carrots, snap peas, green onions, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, cilantro and chopped eggs. It’s tossed with a dressing made with olive oil, honey, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper to create a palate-pleasing delight. This salad is ready in less than 30 minutes and can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to four days. With the powerhouse nutritional qualities of eggs, this recipe is an egg-citing addition to meals because it’s a good source of protein, choline and vitamin A. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: Iowa Egg Council

Jerk Grilled Tenderloin with Mango, Avocado and Kale Salad | Iowa Pork Producers Association

Experience the magic of the Caribbean in your backyard with a dish as nutritious as it is flavorful. Start with fresh pork tenderloin seasoned with jerk spices and grilled to perfection.

The tenderloin is a wonderful and versatile cut of meat. Known for its buttery tenderness and mild flavor, it pairs well with various seasonings, sauces and complementary foods. Serve over a crisp bed of kale, sweet mango and cool avocado for a celebration of flavors that taste like summer. While jerk seasoning is famously used on chicken, it’s also outstanding on pork. The distinctive ingredients in jerk seasoning are cayenne pepper, allspice and thyme. Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, parsley, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg round out the spice blend. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: Iowa Pork Producers Association


Turkey Dak Bulgogi Salad with Charred Scallion Dressing | Iowa Turkey Federation

Keep mealtime light and fresh with this salad. A Korean-style marinade locks major flavor into the grilled turkey breast. The marinade is a blend of soy sauce, olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, coconut sugar, chili paste and black pepper, creating a savory, salty and sweet flavor. The turkey breast is sliced into cutlets, which are marinated for several hours or overnight to flavor and tenderize the meat. Toasted cashews add a little extra crunch to the salad, and a charred scallion dressing adds even more layers of goodness. The grilled turkey is served on a bed of spinach with carrots, cilantro and avocado, creating a meal filled with nutrition. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: Iowa Turkey Federation

Steak and Arugula Salad with Walnut Dressing | Midwest Dairy

If you’re looking for a hearty warm-weather dish, try this steak and arugula salad recipe. It draws from all the best parts of summer, with sirloin steak from the grill and tomatoes and arugula from the garden. Toss in a yogurt-based dressing and top with crumbled blue cheese – voila! Get ready to wow your friends and family because this steak and arugula salad has so many flavor dimensions in just one bite. Sirloin cuts are often the leaner parts of a steak, with high protein and low content of fat. Salad dressings made with Greek yogurt, like what is featured in this recipe, are generally lower in calories. Greek yogurt has more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt while still packing a punch for health with probiotics. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: Midwest Dairy


Edamame, Corn and Radish Salad | The Soyfoods Council

This bright and delicious salad is a perfect side dish for a grilled burger or smoked ribs. With edamame (green soybeans) and corn, the salad could subtly nod to Iowa’s farm families who recently finished spring planting. Slightly spicy radishes provide a crispy surprise in every bite. Vinegar, onions, soybean oil and garlic combine for a light dressing. Edamame is a high-quality source of protein, and with 17 grams of protein in a serving of this salad, you’ll have the energy to compete in backyard games or to keep up with the kids’ activities! The best way to shell fresh edamame is to blanch the edamame first and then remove the edamame from the pod. Find the recipe here.

Photo Credit: The Soyfoods Council