I have eaten a lot of salads in my day. Some of them were the boring bowl of iceberg with a pale, mealy wedge of tomato, and some of them were big fat calorie explosions (Taco Bell taco salad in the fried tortilla shell anyone?).
Then three years ago, Mark Bittman entered my life with this article. "101 Simple Salads for the Season" became my salad reference book that summer. The list made its way around the members of my cooking club, and we even planned a gathering based on the list - everyone picked a number and brought it.
My recommendations from the list:
Salad #2 - yes, tomatoes and peaches DO go together quite nicely!
Salad #13 - I took this "red" salad to a party, and went home with an empty bowl. Turns out tomatoes and STRAWBERRIES go together well, too. Hmm, I sense a theme here.
Salad #19 - I haven't tried this one, but you white bean aficionados out there know who you are. Report back if you try it!
Salad #38 - watermelon and feta are a dynamite combination. Man, I love summer produce.
Salad #95 - this is in the grain salad section, so we're getting outside the box a little. This was breakfast one week!
These salads are great for improvisation. Swap out one fruit or vegetable for another. Season it a little differently. If you're using good ingredients, you can't go wrong!