The star of every summer salad, the finish of every summer dessert, the sidekick to my warm weather drinks—I owe it all to a pot of mint I planted on my back deck three years ago. The mint has returned happily every season, and I have done nothing to encourage it. My spontaneous planting, whether I knew it or not, was a gift to my future self.

I once had a roommate who would prep breakfast or grind coffee the night before and explain it as, “I’m being kind to morning Lindsey.” As someone who identifies as “deadline-oriented” (read: procrastinator), I found this repackaging of self-discipline to be a marvel. It turns out that planting a garden of any size can be a way of showing kindness to a future version of yourself. So can going for a run or laying out your clothes or writing 100 more words or packing the lunchboxes—any of those unpleasant tasks that could otherwise speed bump your day later.

If you consider eating a salad a kindness to your future self, you’re right, and if you consider it a gift to yourself now, you’re right—especially if you’re eating this grilled update to a Cobb salad. Shallot-heavy and showered in fresh mint, the lettuce-free salad is remarkably satiating, thanks to the quinoa, grilled chicken, and avocado that make up one half of the bowl. The rest rounds out with cherry tomatoes grilled until they burst, charred scallions, crunchy pistachios, shallot vinaigrette, and, of course, the mint. Grocery store mint will absolutely work here, but if you don’t have a pot of the herb already thriving at home, go plant some. You’ll thank yourself later.

Grilled Summer Salad

Serves: 4–6


3 cups cooked quinoa
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil
2 bunches scallions
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1–2 avocados, cut into 1-inch. pieces
½ c. fresh mint leaves
¼ c. chopped roasted pistachios
2–4 chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Shallot marinade
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 c. olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Shallot vinaigrette
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 c. olive oil


1. Marinate chicken for at least one hour and up to overnight. When ready to cook, let the chicken come to room temperature while you heat the grill to medium-high heat (about 375ºF).

2. Add 1 chopped shallot, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar to a jar and season with salt and pepper. After 20–30 minutes, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and shake vigorously to make the vinaigrette. Set aside.

3. Once the grill is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and lightly season it with salt and pepper. Grill without disturbing, turning once, until chicken reaches 165ºF on a meat thermometer. Transfer to a platter and let rest.

4. Toss the tomatoes and scallions with a little olive oil in a bowl, turning to coat. Grill the tomatoes and scallions using a grill basket or veggie grate, turning occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until blackened and beginning to burst.

5. Meanwhile, drizzle juice from one lemon and olive oil to taste over warm cooked quinoa. Fluff with a fork and season with salt.

6. Slice the chicken and avocado; cut the grilled scallions into 1-inch pieces. Assemble the quinoa, chicken, avocado, tomatoes, scallions, and pistachios family-style on a platter or in individual bowls. Drizzle with shallot vinaigrette to finish and top with plenty of fresh mint and flaky salt.