Easy dinner recipes: Keep it cool with three salad ideas in under 40 minutes

Easy dinner recipes: Keep it cool with three salad ideas in under 40 minutes
A refreshing summer salad from The Hungry Cat.
Recipe: Tomato and watermelon salad
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
Beat the heat tonight with three cool salad ideas. Each comes together in 40 minutes or less

The Hungry Cat's tomato and watermelon salad: Take everything you love about summer and arrange it beautifully on a plate. Juicy heirloom tomato wedges and bright chunks of cool watermelon come together perfectly, punctuated with the spice of arugula, fresh basil and mint.

Balboa Cafe's kale slaw: For this slaw, incredibly simple to make, thinly sliced kale is tossed with colorful carrots, red cabbage and fresh fennel, then coated with a light but tangy dressing. Toasted walnuts are added at the end for added crunch. Balboa Cafe was happy to share its recipe for the salad, which is perfect served as a side or light meal.

BLD's fresh vegetable salad: BLD tosses its homemade dressing -- fresh, lightly herbal, sweetened with a touch of honey and with just the right amount of tang -- with a wonderfully bright and colorful salad of crunchy fresh corn, edamame, roasted bell peppers and green beans, along with diced avocado and toasted cashews. They top the salad with fresh sprouts and a drizzle of nutty hemp seeds. Enjoy!


For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight! page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at


Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 4

Note: Adapted from the Hungry Cat in Hollywood. To make a watermelon reduction, juice all or part of a watermelon (using a juicer, a blender or food processor and straining), then simmer until the juice is reduced by half.


1/2 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 cup watermelon reduction
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallot, garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the watermelon reduction, then whisk in the oil until fully incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes about 1 1/3 cups vinaigrette, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.


4 tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided, more to taste
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided, more to taste
4 cups diced seedless watermelon
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably French feta
8 to 10 basil leaves, torn (preferably opal basil)
8 to 10 mint leaves, torn (preferably Persian mint)
4 cups loosely packed arugula
1/3 cup watermelon vinaigrette, or to taste

1. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and spread them out on a sheet pan. Season with one-half teaspoon each salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, watermelon, onion, feta, basil, mint and arugula. Gently toss in the vinaigrette. Taste and season with one-fourth teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste. Add additional vinaigrette to taste as desired before serving.

Each serving: 300 calories; 9 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 33 mg cholesterol; 17 grams sugar; 883 mg sodium.