No season is better than summer for tossing out typical notions of salad.

No season is better than summer for tossing out typical notions of salad.

"It doesn't have to be green," says Mary Shaw, culinary educator at the Ashland Food Co-op.

Leafy vegetables don't make the cut for most of Shaw's summer salads. As heat wilts tender garden greens, she seizes abundant corn, beans, squash, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes, combining them with grains, meats and cheeses for complete meals.

A full slate of salads will be available for free sampling Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays throughout July and August at the Ashland Co-op, 237 N. First St. In-store demonstrations also will show shoppers unique ways of serving salads, says Shaw.

"They can be rolled right up for lunch the next day in a tortilla," she says, adding that pizza is another vehicle for conveying salad, specifically eggplant and garlic.

"In other cultures, salad looks really different," says Shaw, describing the Greek eggplant salad as "a pile of brown, gooey stuff" that tastes delicious.

"I think there's a lot to be learned from that."

Learning to mingle flavors and textures for "a meal in a bowl" takes a bit of practice, says Shaw, who advocates enough ingredients to make the dish interesting, but not so many that the palate is overwhelmed, particularly by fat.

"You ought to be able to taste each ingredient in the salad," she says.

The richness of salami and provolone cheese in Shaw's chopped salad is countered with lemon juice in the vinaigrette. Red-leaf lettuce takes a back seat to red cabbage and green beans, she says. The salad will be featured at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 17, in the store.

"It's very bright in its flavors," says Shaw. "The colors are gorgeous."

Marrying vegetables and fruits is another strategy for staving off salad boredom, says Shaw. That concept will be a focus of a free August cooking class in Grants Pass presented by Oregon Health Management Services. Call 541-471-4208 to register. See for more information.

Red peppers, strawberries and tomatoes make a striking salad in a single hue, says OHMS cooking instructor Barbara Paulson. Her Aug. 18 class will covers salad from side dishes to protein-packed suppers with four recipes, one of which is likely to showcase kale. But Paulson, like Shaw, says salads can do without leafy vegetables.

"You can make real hearty salads without greens," she says, adding that brown rice, beans, avocado, olives and tomatoes compose one of her favorite salads.

Such salads can be room temperature or warm, say Shaw and Paulson.

Including greens such as spinach and wilting them with the warmth of other ingredients can complement the dish's other flavors and textures, says Paulson. Small quantities of meat and cheese, she adds, impart saltiness and savor without a lot of excess sodium.

Cooked and raw ingredients combine in the following recipes, which each include a protein. Cutting vegetables approximately the same size for Minestrone Pasta Salad mimics the presentation and texture of the classic Italian soup. Nectarines sweeten bitter radicchio in this grilled-salad recipe. And this Asian-fusion rice salad gets a pop of color and flavor from red quinoa.

Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at