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There's something about a salad that just seems to make a summer meal complete. Most salads can be made without turning on the oven, keeping the kitchen cool on the hottest of days. Others can be made up ahead of time, refrigerated overnight and ready to take along for a summer cookout.

Tired of cooking indoors? Try making hot potato salad out on the grill or serving up a dairy product-based salad to go with BBQ grilled chicken or steak. Whatever you choose, a salad is a perfect complementary side dish.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

Fresh blackberries bring a seasonal twist to Grilled Chicken Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette. The recipe is courtesy of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Recipe tested by Jennifer Rude Klett

1 ½ cup fresh blackberries (divided)

⅓ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

⅓ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup honey

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)

12 ounces of fresh baby spinach or kale salad mix

4 ounces any wine-infused cheese such as Sartori Merlot BellaVitano, crumbled

Blend until smooth in a food processor ½ cup of the blackberries, the basil, vinegar and honey to make vinaigrette. Slowly stream in olive oil until blended, season with salt and pepper. Pour ¾ cup of the vinaigrette into a covered container with chicken to marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinaigrette.

Preheat grill to medium and oil grill grates.

Cook chicken in covered grill 5 to 7 minutes per side or to an internal chicken temperature of 165 degrees. While chicken is grilling, divide salad mix onto four servings plates. When chicken is done, cut into slices and place on each salad. Add remaining blackberries; drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Marinated Vegetable Medley

2/3 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup salad oil

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/4 cup chopped onions

salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine:

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

16 oz. can whole small carrots, or fresh carrots cut into julienne strips and steamed

14 oz. can artichoke hearts, halved

1 cup pitted ripe olives, halved

1 cup diced celery

1 cup broccoli flowerettes, steamed

1 cup cauliflower flowerettes, steamed

1/4 cup chopped pimento

Pour hot marinade over vegetables, tossing to coat. Chill for several hours, stirring occasionally, Serves 8.

Shrimp, Avocado, Corn and Two-Bean Salad

These pared-down shrimp tostadas are topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese in Spanish), a crumbly variety that is slightly salty, soft and moist in texture. The recipe is adapted from the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Recipe tested by Amy DeWall Dadmun

2 pounds raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed and sautéed (5 to 8 minutes in a bit of olive oil)

1 ½ (15-ounce) cans black beans

1 ½ cups green beans, trimmed, blanched, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves chopped garlic (divided)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Juice of 5 limes plus 1 lime, sliced, for garnish (divided)

4 tablespoons honey

2 avocados

4 to 5 cups mixed greens

Cilantro for garnish

Combine shrimp, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper in a medium bowl, mix well and refrigerate.

In a separate bowl, combine corn, black and green beans, onion, cilantro, half the garlic and more salt and pepper to taste.

Over medium heat, in a large pan, heat oil and crushed pepper. Add shrimp and sauté 2 to 3 minutes until pink. Place cooked shrimp into corn mixture. 

Again over medium heat, in same pan, combine lime juice, honey, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt. Whisk for a few minutes until dressing is reduced and thickens. Pour dressing over shrimp and veggies and tumble gently. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Cut avocados into medium dice, add to salad and gently mix. Serve warm or chilled over greens and garnished with cilantro and lime slices. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Feisty Pasta Delight

1 cup pepperoni slices

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup green pepper strips

7 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Fry pepperoni  until edges curl. Add onion and green pepper, cook until tender. Toss with spaghetti and combined remaining ingredients, heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Cookout Hot Potato Salad

This potato salad is best prepared on the grill. 

9 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut up

1/2 lb. bacon

1/4 cup diced green pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup yellow mustard

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper

Fry bacon, green pepper and onion until tender crisp. Drain. Combine this with sliced potatoes in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients and add to potato mixture. Mix well. Pour into heavy duty aluminum foil and seal tightly. Double wrap with another piece of foil. Place onto outdoor grill and cook 20-30 minutes each side or until heated through.

Summer Dairy Salad

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup fresh strawberries

3 oz. package strawberry Jell-O, sugar free

Dissolve Jell-O in water as directed on package. Add combined remaining ingredients and chill before serving.

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