Lighter than typical grilled foods, these delicious summer salads will inspire you all season long.
grilled romaine lettuce on a plate

When warm weather rolls around, I can't get enough of the long days of summer. I'm eager to walk the dogs as the sun rises and linger on my porch as the sun sets. Of course, at some point, I still have to make dinner. Sure, I could cook up a cheeseburger, but let me propose a lighter, fresher meal: a dinner salad made on the grill. Grilling gives the ingredients a hint of smoke, a touch of char, that regular salads just don't have. I like to make my dinner salads with protein, so I throw chicken, steak, even calamari or tempeh on the grill. I don't stop there: veggies and fruit go on too. And sometimes I add sturdier lettuces to give them a little bite.

Take my tandoori chicken salad: I skewer grape tomatoes to grill alongside marinated chicken. As they cool, I toss chickpeas, romaine and cucumber with a spiced yogurt dressing, then chop up the chicken, toss everything together and-voilà-dinner is served! All without turning on my stove. As my family and I sit on the porch in the fading light, we dig into that salad, knowing it's just the beginning of our favorite season and we will have many, many more days just like this to enjoy.

If you're looking for something lighter, healthier and tastier than typical grilled fare, then think about cooking up a salad on the grill. Here are some tips to make sure all your grilled salads sizzle.

1. Choose The Best Veggies

Chopped Tandoori Chicken Salad

Any vegetable you like to oven-roast is a good candidate for the grill. Think: onions, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, fennel and asparagus.

2. Get Organized

Chimichurri Grilled Steak Salad

Gather your ingredients on baking sheets for easy transport to the grill. Don't forget tongs, a kitchen timer and a clean plate for cooked meat.

3. Oil Up

Feta, Corn and Chicken Salad with Smoky Tomato Dressing

To keep food from sticking, oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub on the preheated grill rack. Don't use cooking spray on a hot grill. To prep veggies for the grill, toss them with oil so they brown nicely and don't dry out.

4. Avoid Burning

Grilled Halibut Salad with Beet-Carrot Slaw

Denser vegetables like potatoes take longer to cook. Grill slices until marked on both sides, then reduce heat (or move to a cooler part of the grill) and cook until tender.

5. Grill Greens

Grilled Tempeh Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Try grilling sturdy greens like romaine and escarole. A few minutes on the grates renders them delightfully smoky and pleasantly wilted.

6. Use Skewers

Grilled Calamari and Potato Salad

For smaller items like cherry tomatoes use skewers to keep them from falling through the grates. Don't bother soaking wooden skewers to prevent them from burning-we've tested this and they still burn. Wrap exposed ends of wooden skewers in foil to keep them singe-free or use metal.

7. Try A Grill Basket

Grilled Romaine with Avocado-Lime Dressing

It's also great for small vegetables that you could skewer. Just toss mushrooms or onion slices into the basket and stir occasionally until done.