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Four salads to add spark to your July 4th barbecue

The magic of fireworks always delight young and old on July 4th
The magic of fireworks always delight young and old on July 4th
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cookouts are traditional for Independence Day, and what's more traditional in Texas than barbecue? Whether you fire up the grill for hamburgs and hot dogs, chicken and sausage or traditional brisket roasted long and slow on the smoker, it's sure to be a treat if you bring out some non-traditional salads and "go-withs" this year.

The predictions are that Friday and the weekend will be scorchers this year, with the heat high and the humidity higher. So cool and refreshing would be welcome for those who want to enjoy the day or the extended weekend.

Here are four salads to supply the needed goodness and light for a day of hearty fun and food with family and friends, whether you serve them on the 4th or later in the summer.

Simple Caprese

An Italian favorite adapted to the backyard venue includes the same tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and drizzled balsamic vinegar as the more familiar version. It's just a little more rustic, served with the tomatoes cut in wedges rather than sliced, the cheese chunky as well, and the basil coarsely chopped and mixed in rather than layered on top. Serve in a large chilled bowl, with some extra balsamic and olive oil for those who wish it. Sprinkle a dash of fresh ground salt and pepper on top and you can be sure everyone will eat up! Serve it with a crusty loaf of bread for sopping up the liquid.

Watermelon, Feta & Black Olive

This is another crowd pleaser that's oh, so simple and has summer's favorite ingredients. It's a Nigella Lawson classic, or as even she suggests, you can be pretty basic and serve it simply with no fuss as all. Her version has a few more additions, but can be put together in minutes. No one will be able to resist at least a few bites of the unexpected watermelon, olive, cheese combo. What makes it memorable is the addition of lime and mint. This is one you'll want to remember whenever you have watermelon available.

Avocado Summer Salad

Summer, more than any other season, is about fresh food and simple eating. Take advantage of what is abundant and familiar and put foods together in unusual ways. This is a great example of some unusual flavor pairings from California Avocado. It's colorful, full of texture and packed with good nutrition. With its surprising roast corn addition, and tomatoes and cucumbers as well as avocado, it's filling as well as delicious and can be made quickly to feed a crowd. Just have everything cool and ready to toss together in a bowl. Add the dressing at the last minute. It will be a perfect side dish for your outdoor barbecue.

Gingered Fruit Compote

This could be dessert, but served as a salad with hot-off-the-grill meats, it's a knockout hit! There's something about the colorful fresh appeal of a fruit salad that no one will be able to resist. And the flavor of ginger just naturally enhances grilled meats. The cool texture and sweetness of fresh fruit is a perfect counterpoint. It's delicious and light, healthy and unexpected -- plus it is better when chilled for six hours or longer before serving, so feel free to make it up far in advance of the party and bring it out when needed. It does require about five minutes at the stove, but don't let that deter you. Just stock up on all your favorite fruits.

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