Summer salads need no introduction — we believe a great summer salad holds equal stature to the classic summer burger or peach pie; a truly remarkable one puts all its others to shame. We’re also big proponents of the “a salad a day” philosophy, especially in warmer months when hemlines inch up and up. But perhaps you’re in need of a little inspiration, yes? After all, in these dog days of summer motivation can be lacking. So let us do the work for you— or some of it, at least, in terms of helping you find some stunning salad recipes.
These summer salads are packed with vegetables, herbs, and the flavors you only get from summertime, be it from the garden or the grill. There’s more than one way to make a watermelon salad, so we’ve included at least three to choose from. And yes, we’ve got solutions for all that zucchini, you gardening goddess, you. So which summer salads will you be cooking (or not cooking) up this season?
Good and Green (welcome to Veggie City):
Marinated Zucchini Chicken Salad with Marcona Almonds – Of course we have to start with a zucchini recipe, right? Because odds are you’ve already got lots of this on hand right now, so this salad will be a snap to put together.
Little Gems Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing – We go to this salad time and again for its beautiful color and an addictive, avocado-based dressing (okay, mostly that last part).
Los Cabos Summer Salad – Vacation on a plate: don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients—the most time-consuming step in this salad is roasting the peppers (which takes no time at all).
Vegetarian Chopped Salad with Buttermilk Peppercorn Dressing – This salad is so great—it fills you up without knocking you out, making it perfect for those days when you want enough energy for fun summer activities without feeling weighed down.
Panzanella with Peas, Fava Beans and Fresh Herbs – This recipe is a very green, very clean take on classic Italian bread salad, inspired by the very best of greenmarket produce.
Watermelon, Tomato and Four-Herb Salad (Food52) – Juicy watermelon is one of the best parts about summer, so we like to include it wherever we can. This salad is a perfect example of how the sweet can complement the savory.
Cucumber Chervil Salad (Chez Us) – The somewhat uncommon herb chervil takes the spotlight in this easy and refreshing mix.
Herbed Tomato Salad (Chez Us) – Did you know that the most flavor in a tomato is actually found in its seeds? That’s why this salad is so great: the seeds and accompanying juices are reserved and used as a dressing, really making the most of any über-ripe tomatoes.
Cherry and Prosciutto Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing (Turntable Kitchen) – Get your summer cherry fix with this simple salad that caters to the lazy-day mentality of warmer months—you won’t work up much of a sweat when the most prep you have to do is rip up a piece of prosciutto.
Good and Balanced (dairy, protein, grains, greens—these salads have a bit of everything):
Wild Rice, Baby Greens, Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Pistachios – You don’t necessarily have to use wild rice in this recipe—whatever grains you’ve got on hand would work equally as well.
Olive Oil-Packed Tuna, Avocado, White Bean and Arugula Salad – Another perfect pantry salad, this is great for its convenience on top of its energy-boosting superpowers.
Peruvian Shrimp Salad with Cilantro and Roasted Pepper Dressing – The combination of shrimp, cheese, potatoes and a spicy dressing is super satisfying and a great switch-up from your typical summer salads. Try it for lunch “al desko.”
Kale, Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Yogurt-Mint Dressing – Kale, quinoa, Greek yogurt, piles of veggies: there’s a lot of trendy (and healthy) ingredients going on in this bowl.
Salad of Watermelon, Feta and Crispy Pork Belly (Spoon Fork Bacon) – As a little antidote for all the health that came before this, we bring you: pork belly. For our second watermelon pick, extra crispy pork belly gets a helping hand from pickled watermelon rinds, which cut the richness. Make this for a special occasion, we say, due to a couple of plan-ahead steps (not too many, though! Still easy!).
Deconstructed Falafel Salad (Dine X Design) – Quick-pickles, fresh herbs, tangy yogurt and flavorful falafel, this salad is like an edible souvenir from Mediterranean travels—or the perfect transportive experience if you’ve never been.
Good and Grilled (for carnivores and vegetarians alike):
Steak Salad with Tomato-Sherry Vinaigrette – Steak salad is something that gets riffed on time and time again, yet the latest incarnation from Aida might be the best yet, packed with tomatoes and herbs. But the real reason to make this recipe is for the vinaigrette—you’ll see.
Herbed Chicken Salad with Mint, Peanuts and Mango-Mustard Dressing – Whole mint leaves. In your salad. Do it. Now.
Late Spring Grilled Salmon Salad – This could be the ideal weeknight dinner, because it’s so easy and fresh, and because salmon always makes everything a little more indulgent.
Grilled Peach Panzanella – Peaches definitely need to make their way into at least one of your salads this summer. Start with the charred fruit, good crusty bread and tomatoes — add more greens (like watercress or purslane) if you want to make it more veggie-focused or to bulk it up for a crowd.
Grilled Romaine Salad with Homemade Ranch (HonestlyYum) – “Top with whatever looks lovely and in season.” – Better salad advice could not be given.
Grilled Veggies with Basil Miso (Love and Lemons) – Another great way to use that miso we’re always going on about! Here, it’s used instead of the cheese in a vegan recipe that’s similar to pesto and tossed with a bounty of grilled summer veggies.
Grilled Beets with Burrata and Poppy Seed Dressing (Bon Appetit) – Grilling beets is the summer alternative to roasting beets, and poppy seeds are a 1-second fix for making a regular ol’ vinaigrette seem fresh.
Grilled Zucchini Ribbon and Kale Salad (Bev Cooks) – This summer salad might fool some people into thinking it was all business. But with toasted cashews and blue cheese, we know it’s down to party, right?
Blueberry and Grilled Asparagus Salad (What’s Gaby Cooking) – The one in which Gaby discovers putting blueberries in salad is an A+, number-one, winning summer salad idea.
Grilled Halloumi and Tomato Salad with Lemon and Honey Vinaigrette (Sweet Paul) – Maybe the ultimate “grilled cheese,” halloumi stands up to the fiery grill on its own, and makes for a great layer to stack with slices of summer’s best produce, finished with sweet honey and lemon vinaigrette.
Good Grains (more grains than greens):
Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Farro Salad – And for the watermelon salad hat-trick: a salad born of the very circumstances we all find ourselves in when staring down the contents of our fridge on a hot summer’s day. This salad mirrors that, making the best of what summer has left, and would be our pick for a late-season, last-minute picnic with friends.
Farro Fattoush Salad (HonestlyYum) – This recipe makes use of sumac (which you can read a bit more about here) but it’s watercress, cucumbers, radishes and cool yogurt that make this salad thoroughly punchy and satisfying.
Strawberry, Quinoa and Feta Salad (Love and Lemons) – What kind of summer salad list would this be if it didn’t include strawberries somewhere on it? If you’re tired of the classic strawberry+spinach+goat cheese combination, try this one, which pairs the sweet fruit with savory scallions and sprouts.
Vietnamese Quinoa Salad (I Am A Food Blog) – This recipe was made with summer picnics in mind, and will nail your cravings for Vietnamese food, should you have some.
Almond and Parsley Pesto with Asparagus and Freekeh (What’s Gaby Cooking) – Parsley is extra good for you, but often, its flavor is too grassy and overwhelming for many people to make a full salad of the leaves. That’s why using it in a pesto for this grain salad is genius: you get all the health benefits, with a better balance of flavor.
Lead watermelon photo by John P via Flickr