Don't settle for boring salads. Add fruit to the mix for a slightly sweet salad full of flavor and antioxidants.

If you're like me, then the joy of lettuce and other leafy greens starts to wear a little thin as summer progresses. My garden continues to yield an abundance of lettuce, chard, and even kale in a cool year. I, however, struggle to keep up with this prolific growth. Salad starts to bore me. I add mustard greens and sprouts to give my salads zest. I experiment with different dressings. I add a variety of cheeses. To be honest, none of these truly piques my interest. The fresh salads I longed for in the winter months lose their luster as summer progresses.

At this point in the summer, I crave fruit. Those of us who garden in northern climates have to wait a long time for our blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I eat fruit to distraction. Meanwhile, my heat-tolerant lettuces begin to bolt and the greens grow unchecked into monstrosities. Chard starts to bear a striking resemblance to the leafy foliage of the Triassic Period, causing me endless amounts of guilt and resulting in unwanted bundles deposited on friend's doorsteps. Chard is rather like zucchini in my garden.

This was before I discovered that I could save my love of greens by simply adding fruit to my salads to spice things up.

Not Your Mother's Fruit Salad

I am not talking about a fruit salad, dripping with orange juice and watermelon and an almost overwhelming sweetness. I am talking about taking an average salad of lettuce, mustards, mizuna and baby kale and adding something slightly sweet.

You can add any fruit to your salad. I tend to focus on the fruits available at the farmer's market, in my garden, or growing wild on the roadside. What is easily available for me may not be available for you. Substitute your local flavors in the following recipes for a slightly sweet summer treat.

Strawberry Summer Salad

Strawberries are a delicious salad additive. I slice them into my salads the minute they come into season. I also add them to yogurt, cereal, and smoothies when I am not eating them straight off the plant. Strawberries slice easily and add a striking beauty to your salad bowl. Red and green are complimentary colors and the combination is not only delicious but is guaranteed to delight your sense of aesthetics. It also impresses your guests. Don't limit your strawberries salads to spinach. Spinach and strawberry salads are a classic dish. Broaden your horizons with a variation of this strawberry summer salad to see what suits your palate.

You will need:

* A handful of strawberries (Or several handfuls for larger salads)

* Lettuce

* Baby green mix of mustard, arugula and spinach (or fully grown mustard, arugula and spinach)

* Walnuts, chopped

* Cheese of choice (feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, cheddar, blue cheese)

* 2 parts olive oil
* 2 parts red wine vinegar
* 1 part flavored vinegar (strawberry, pomegranate, citrus)
* A dash of sea salt
* A dash of freshly ground pepper
Shake or stir the dressing and adjust the ratio of ingredients to taste. You can also substitute a pre-packaged fruit dressing of your choice. I prefer a semi-sweet dressing that brings out the fruit flavors without overwhelming the slightly spicy taste of the mustard greens and arugula.
Berry Delight Summer Salad

I give strawberries a salad recipe of their own primarily because they are the first berry to ripen in my garden. After strawberry season, all bets are off.
Here is a list of a few fruits I enjoy in my salads that are available in mid to late summer:
* Raspberries
* Blueberries
* Grapes
* Peaches
* Nectarines
* Apricots
* Cherries (pitted)
* Currants
* Elderberries
This is by no means a complete list. I also add oranges, grapefruit, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi and other fruits not available in my area, breaking personal vows to purchase only local produce.
Add Dried Fruit For Texture Complexity
Fresh fruit is delicious. Dried fruit is tasty too. Raisins, craisins, dried apricots and figs are a delicious addition to salads, especially salads that incorporate cheese into the mix. Consider dehydrating some of your bumper berry crops for winter use. No need to limit your salads to summer alone. Save some of the cheese and dried fruit to eat on a cracker for an appetizer.
Citrus Sharpens Taste Buds

Citrus brings out the subtle flavors in your salad and salad dressing. Add segments of oranges, mandarin oranges or grapefruit to your greens. Citrus pairs nicely with most fruits or you can enjoy it by itself. For a more delicate touch, squeeze a lemon over your greens and fruit.

Try Tart Sorrel

Sorrel is an easy to grow green that has a slightly sweet, tart taste. Perfect for blending in smoothies or nibbling raw in the garden, sorrel brings out the subtleties of fruit and adds a delicious, tart bite to your leafy dish. Sorrel is best in smaller quantities as the flavor can easily overpower a salad. A third of a cup of coarsely chopped sorrel is plenty.

Toss And Enjoy

To finish, toss your salad and enjoy all the flavors summer has to offer. Experiment with different dressings and fruits to keep your taste buds interested all season. Worried the thrill will wear off? Fall brings ripe apples and nuts to the table just in time. Try adding apple, walnut, and blue cheese to your fall greens for an autumnal fruit salad variation.