When all around you is wilted and drought-stricken, nothing refreshes like a good salad.
1. ilios noche's Greek country salad: A real Greek salad spurns lettuce in favor of barrel-aged feta, tomato and cucumber, with red onion, green pepper, marinated olives and plenty of olive oil and red-wine vinegar. 11508 Providence Road; 704-814-9882.
2. Crisp's F.C.N.: Add a sweet-savory panache to a salad and you're going somewhere. Make it Craisins and blue cheese with some crunch and you've arrived. This concoction – hand-tossed to order and short for Fruit Cheese Nuts – adds toasted walnuts and a roasted lemon vinaigrette for good measure. 1961 E. Seventh St.; 704-333-9515.
3. Thai Marlai's yum nuer: The genius of Thai cooking is on full display in this classic dish, in which juicy broiled beef slices, onion, tomato, mint and lime become something phenomenally vibrant and fresh. 19700 One Norman Blvd., Cornelius; 704-892-7191.
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4. Firenze's arugula: Say Italian salad and plenty of people think Caesar. But arugula (rucola, rocket; it has lots of names) is supremely Italian, and this version – with sweet Italian gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette – is a beauty. 6414 Rea Road; 704-544-4949.
5. Forty Six's couscous salad: Organic whole-wheat couscous with feta, roasted peppers, oven-dried tomatoes and coriander vinaigrette, it's a nontraditional salad that's a meal. Comes with the option of adding tandoori-style chicken or wild salmon. (Ingredients were on back-order this week, but it's staying on the menu.) 101 West Ave., Kannapolis; 704-250-4646.