If you live along the Eastern seaboard, you may have noticed that it has been a bit steamy of late. In anticipation of the heat, I worked a couple of my favorite main-dish salads into our meal plan for the week. Since I already had a full day of cooking planned on Monday (and was already working up a sweat), I did a bit of prep work for these salads in advance, which meant they came together quickly and easily on the nights I served them, requiring little more than chopping and assembly to get them on the table.

Dinner: July 6, 2010

First up, Tuesday night’s Cobb salad, made with chunks of grilled-in-advance chicken, hard boiled egg, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, chives, and tomato on a bed of crunchy lettuce. I added some chunks of cucumber and radish to the mix – not traditional, but cool and refreshing (and who doesn’t love extra vegetables this time of year).

Dinner:  July 7, 2010

On Wednesday night, after a snack of thinly sliced radishes on sea salted butter-ed bread, I assembled another one of our favorites, a Niçoise-style salad loaded with blanched haricots verts and true “new” potatoes (both from Wishing Stone Farm), cucumbers and tomatoes from Kimball Fruit Farm, more hard boiled eggs, and a few pantry staples: Nicoise olives, capers, and great canned tuna and anchovies. I love <a href="serving this on a big platter so that diners can help themselves to as much of the various components as they want, and though you can certainly cook your potatoes ahead of time, I prefer to boil them soon before serving, then toss them with a bit of my shallot-studded vinaigrette so they can soak up the flavor.

These two salads are a couple of my favorite meals to help beat the heat – just add some chilled rosé, serve, and smile.

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