68 Quick and Delicious Summer Salads
Recipe: BLT Salad
Few things taste better than a BLT, and this delicious salad takes it off the toast and makes it easy to share. That doesn't mean you don't get some delicious crunch here though—you'll still enjoy two delicious treats in this regard. Bake the croutons and bacon together on the same baking sheet. This rustic salad only take 20 minutes to whip up and, trust us, the results are well worth the effort. You might be tempted to go for the store-bought stuff, but homemade buttermilk dressing will really kick this salad up a notch. The assortment of fresh tomatoes means you can keep this salad truly local and seasonal.
Chicken and White Bean Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Recipe: Chicken and White Bean Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Enjoying salads means that you've got great ways to bring light, filling meals to the table as all-in-one treats. This vibrant salad is quick to toss together and travels well, which makes it ideal for summer picnics and potlucks. Don't worry, the salad won't wilt when dressed, so make it ahead of time and store it for several hours in the refrigerator. This salad is also a rainbow of color—purple cabbage, white beans, and orange citrus all come together in a fantastic flavor composition that looks and tastes great.
Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
Recipe: Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
An online reviewer described this salad as "perfect for a very warm evening meal." Serve this fresh summer salad with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful tomato juices. If you can't find heirloom tomatoes near you, don't worry—this salad will be just as delicious with any ripe tomato. This salad has a light white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette that adds just a little sharpness and brings out the delicate flavors of the tomatoes and blends well with the bite of the red onions. You'll get a little cool relief from the chopped fresh basil, chives, parsley, and thyme that get tossed in.
Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Farfalle and fresh veggies make a delicious summer side. Mix the dressing up to three days in advance; then toss when ready to serve. This salad uses three colors of bell peppers, and four different fresh herbs, to bring zest and spice to the fore. We like using mini farfalle in this recipe so that all of the ingredients are about the same size, but you can easily swap in any pasta shape you like. You'll get a little zest from the lemon juice, some heat from the Dijon mustard, and a sharp kick from a little white wine vinegar.
Sesame, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
Recipe: Sesame, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
It's the unexpected ingredients that give this recipe its special kick and surprise. Scallions, sesame seeds, and a serrano or jalapeño chile all add a little texture and a lot of bite to the crunch and flavor of the tomatoes and cucumbers. The vinaigrette is made with a little rice vinegar and some salty soy sauce, but before serving, sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt to add texture to the fresh tomatoes. This is probably the easiest side dish you'll come across this summer, but don't let its ease fool you—it is absolutely packed with fresh, seasonal flavor.
Strawberry Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Croutons
Georgia Shrimp and Radish Salad
Recipe: Georgia Shrimp and Radish Salad
This fantastic salad recipe is courtesy of Rebecca Lang, author of The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South's Favorite Produce. Radishes at the farmers' market can seem as varied and abundant as the colors of Easter eggs. Two different varieties give this salad vibrant color, texture, and flavor: watermelon radishes and D'Avignon (French breakfast) radishes. If you're looking for a quick-fix try this salad, hands-on time for this recipe is only 20 minutes. Dress this with a mixture of orange juice, honey, and mayonnaise—its combination of sweetness, creaminess, and citrus bite will literally burst forth.
Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Recipe: Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Lemon and shallots marry for a bright taste that's ideal for a ladies' lunch or light supper. If you can't find haricots verts, use regular green beans instead. You can also opt for penne pasta, instead of casarecce, if you already have it on hand. We love how quickly this recipe comes together—just 30 minutes! You'll love the bright citrusy flavor paired with the perfect amount of crunch from the green beans. You will also love just that hint of salt from the finely chopped and roasted pistachios. Their flavor will keep this dish a tiny bit savory.
Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Pickled Onions
"My grandmother always had a bottle of buttermilk in the fridge, and I love how it adds acidity and creaminess to this dressing." - Birmingham chef John Hall.
Beets, curly kale, hardcooked eggs, and tangy pickled onions come together to make this salad a winner. Parsley, chives, garlic, and vinegar all season a buttermilk and mayonnaise mixture that combines into a delectable dressing. Serve it as a side for brunch as Hall suggests, or add protein to make it a full meal. We suggest you serve it topped with some buttery French bread croutons to give it even more texture and crunch.
Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Recipe: Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Our colorful pasta salad is so satisfying it qualifies as dinner. It also qualifies as a dinner because it is packed with protein—all the shredded meat from a whole deli-cooked chicken, in fact. This is combined with fresh, sliced squash, sliced zucchini, and nectarines, before being tossed with farfalle and the lime vinaigrette. Toasted sliced almonds add texture and crunch. The lime vinaigrette may be a tart temptation, but it also hides a little heat thanks to a tablespoon of Creole mustard. Be ready for it to tantalize your taste buds with just a little sizzle in every bite.
Chopped Salad with Steak
Recipe: Chopped Salad with Steak
This dish starts with a steak, citrus, and spice sensation—Seared Flank Steak with Lime-Wasabi Sauce. Chop this up, and it will brighten up any summer salad. The idea is to lighten up the seared flank steak too by putting it in the salad, and this recipe does precisely that, creating the perfect one-dish meal. You'll find crisp romaine lettuce, creamy blue cheese, firm and ripe kalamata olives, and crisp cucumbers and bell peppers. Tossed together, these are a medley of individual tastes that make an incredible creation. The red onion and two colors of bell peppers bring a fresh heat that the lime-wasabi sauce also suggests, one sitting out in front, the other a subtle suggestion. Both are amazing in this salad.
Herbed Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad
Recipe: Herbed Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad
This salad is almost a Greek salad—it has great, fresh and delicious ingredients including grape tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion. Toss these together with feta cheese and fresh herbs to make this simple salad. We've specified Kirby cucumbers in this recipe, which is what we suggest you use if they are available. This type of cucumber is traditionally sold for picking, so it is available unwaxed, and it will have fewer seeds than other cucumbers might. You'll also love its crisp, fresh texture and its light taste. You can have this salad from counter to table in about fifteen minutes, so enjoy this quick-fix salad all summer long.
Chicken, Farro, and Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Recipe: Chicken, Farro, and Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Marinating chicken brings all its flavors to the fore, and this Lemon Vinaigrette helps the process thanks to the acidic nature of the citrus—of course, you'll also be working all the great flavors of Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and white wine vinegar into your meat. Cooked on medium-high heat, the chicken will be ready in about ten minutes. Char the vegetables next, and both will give this healthy and hearty salad a smoky, sweet flavor. If you prefer, you can easily substitute sliced celery for fennel and pearl barley or wheat berries for farro.
Kale-and-Blueberry Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing
Recipe: Kale-and-Blueberry Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing
Coleslaw might as well be a Southern delicacy as regularly as it is on the table as a favorite side dish. Given its popularity, it is no wonder there are so many ways to get it right. This recipe uses red cabbage, kale, radishes, and carrots, but then throws in a twist with the addition of two types of berries: blueberries and raspberries. We like fresh tarragon in this creamy, zippy dressing, but other herbs work just as well. Dress the salad and let it stand for 30 minutes; it will develop an incredible complexity without losing any of its crispness, freshness, or crunch.
Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing
Recipe: Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing
Simply adding in wedges of creamy avocado and a fiery buttermilk dressing make this good-for-you pasta salad feel like a hearty meal. The buttermilk dressing gets its heat from some crushed garlic gloves, plus ground red pepper, chili powder, and black pepper—this dressing means business. But it is kept light with low-fat buttermilk, canola mayonnaise, and light sour cream. The recipe is so delicious and so easy to make that you may want to double it. You will probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, so it's the perfect solution for a last-minute party or potluck.
Shrimp and Pesto-Rice Salad
Recipe: Shrimp and Pesto-Rice Salad
Serve this dish warm to give a brand-new twist to the old-standard rice salad, or make it ahead, chill, and serve cold. However you decide to dish this tasty salad out, everyone will love the pesto. Rather than use the traditional basil-and-pine nuts approach, this recipe blends mint leaves, jalapeño, garlic, lime, and baby spinach for a fresh, crisp, zesty, and hot homemade version. Stirred into the rice, then topped with baked shrimp and toasted almonds, this recipe brings spice, crunch, and seafood-sweet richness with every mouthwatering bite. Remember, this dish is fantastic warm or cold, so serve it the way you prefer.
Summer Hoppin' John Salad
Recipe: Summer Hoppin' John Salad
In the South, Hoppin' John is a New Year's tradition. Hoppin' John is usually served hot, but this cool salad is perfect for a summer picnic or lunch, or as a side salad for grilled meats. This recipe actually begins with Classic Fresh Field Peas, which means it already has the delicious flavors of smoked ham hocks, as well as bacon drippings, mixed in. It just gets more delicious from there. If you have a preference, feel free to substitute your favorite cooked whole grain instead of rice. This is topped with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, so every mouthful has just that little bit of tingle and bite.
Smoky Chopped Salad with Avocado
Recipe: Smoky Chopped Salad with Avocado
The grill is not the place many people expect to find their leafy greens, but in fact it is a great way to give them an amazing flavor. What is important is not to leave them on too long. To make this recipe just right, grill the lettuce and avocado just long enough to impart a tinge of smoke. Then, drizzle your salad with a rich and creamy dressing. It's made from buttermilk and sour cream, then flavored with fragrant, fresh herbs and garlic, and spiced with hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, as well as a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You'll get savory, smoky, and creamy flavors and tastes from every forkful.
Watermelon "Steak" Salad
Recipe: Watermelon "Steak" Salad
This is definitely not your mother's fruit salad. You will love how fresh and crisp everything in this fruit salad is. A cold, thick, steak-sized slice of ripe watermelon pairs unexpectedly well with beautiful, assorted salad greens, salty Cotija cheese, and a smoky vinaigrette. And to enjoy all these flavor sensations, you won't even have to fire up the grill. You'll get some additional crunch from your choice of salted pepitas or sunflower seeds—both go great with watermelon. For an added taste sensation, try topping this salad with leftover grilled chicken or beef.
Cooking Video: Watermelon "Steak" Salad
Green Machine Salad
- Recipes: Green Machine Salad
- This incredible—and incredibly tasty—salad brings together four great greens as its main ingredients: Granny Smith apples, asparagus, cabbage, and green onions. There's enough acidity to keep the apples from turning brown if this dish is prepared up to three hours ahead. What's so delightful about this salad is how you use a vegetable peeler to transform asparagus into thin ribbons, a technique that also works well with carrots. Then, add a little bite with some red wine vinegar, and a little sweetness with two tablespoons of honey. You'll love how it all comes together. This crisp summer salad will be cool and refreshing on any table.
Recipe: Strawberry-Tomato Salad
Few fruits have the true taste of summer like strawberries, and pairing them with tomatoes truly brings the flavors of the season together. Find the best fresh and juicy strawberries at your local farmers' market if you can. Then, look for mini multicolored tomatoes at the supermarket. Toss the two together for a surprising combo to serve with grilled salmon, chicken, or pork. Work in some fresh herbs, then just a little salt and peppery with really bring out the flavor. Stir everything together and this simple salad is ready to serve.
Flank Steak and Cucumber Salad
Snappy Pea-and-Herb Salad
Recipe: Snappy Pea-and-Herb Salad
Sliced snap peas and thin-sliced red onions are the crunchy delights in this summer-fresh side dish. Packed with fresh basil, mint, and parsley, this salad is filled with the aromas and tastes of the garden. You can serve this fragrant side with just about any grilled meat; it plays well off smoky, charred flavors. Toss in some feta cheese and shrimp and you could easily turn this simple side into a main. Drizzle on some homemade Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette and its zesty flavors will bring out the subtleties of this dish even more.
Grilled Peach-and-Avocado Salad
Recipe: Grilled Peach-and-Avocado Salad
The South is rich with an abundance of fresh peaches during the summer, and it is almost impossible to resist the taste of a ripe peach in a fresh summer salad. This recipe brings the heat and keeps everything hot off the grill and straight to the table. It comes from the kitchen of Paula Jones of Youngsville, North Carolina, courtesy of bellimento.com. "Being originally from Georgia, I love a good peach!" Good they are, paired with the saltiness of Manchego or Parmesan cheese, and the richness of fresh avocadoes. This is a great twist how to use a classic summer fruit.
Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Recipe: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
A simple pasta is a genuine Italian classic, so making it a true Southern delight seems like a great idea. This version brings some of our favorite in-season summer vegetables, including corn, baby heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and bell pepper to the table, then mixes in an unexpected sweet taste—peaches. Add in some shredded smoked chicken and this salad goes from side dish to substantial sensation, taking pride of place as a light-yet-filling summer dinner. Pour on a little Parmesan Vinaigrette for even more subtle Italian flavors, and then sprinkle on some fresh herbs for the finale.
Video: Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Melon and Crispy Prosciutto Salad
Recipe: Melon and Crispy Prosciutto Salad
You can build the base of this sweet, salty, and crunchy salad with any melon, which means that cantaloupes, honeydew, or even watermelon can be sensations on the table. Consider how each will pair with the crispy prosciutto—the answer will be beautifully regardless—then top the salad with chopped pistachios and crumbled feta cheese. The combination of crisp melon, crunchy prosciutto and pistachios, and the bite of white wine vinegar all result in a salad that is full but not too filling, fresh, and a combination of sweet-yet-salty flavors that are entirely unexpected.
Arugula with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Recipe: Arugula with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Mama always said, 'Eat your greens,' so take that advice and start brunch off with a simple salad. This salad could not get much simpler. It begins with your choice of arugula or, if you prefer, mixed salad greens. The warm vinaigrette, based around the bacon drippings, melts the goat cheese, creating a magical creamy dressing. When it is time for the Arugula with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette to be served, top this mouthwatering delight with more goat cheese, and that crispy bacon. This salad may be all you want to eat for the perfect brunch—just like mama said.
Grilled Chicken-Asparagus Salad
Recipe: Grilled Chicken-Asparagus Salad
Having a fresh, protein-packed summer salad on the table makes entertaining easy and guests satisfied. Grilled Chicken-Asparagus Salad starts with boneless chicken breasts that get grilled to perfection, then chopped, and tossed together with asparagus, cheese, and shallots. The salad gets smoky, salty, and a little spicy seemingly all at once. Since you may want to temper those tastes a little, this hearty salad is brightened up with mint, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Finally, make this salad taste big, and rich, with a mayonnaise-and-buttermilk-based dressing drizzled over the top. Sprinkle on some fresh herbs, and enjoy.
Recipe: Tomato-and-Fruit Salad
This colorful dish captures the best flavors of summer on one cool platter, bringing together the best of melons, summer fruits, and varietal tomatoes. You'll love the distinctive colors and flavors of the green tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and baby heirloom tomatoes. The crunch of sliced watermelon will tantalize your taste buds before the rich sweetness of honeydew emerges. A fresh basil dressing spiked with orange marmalade merges the sweet with the savory, and adds a little extra bite thanks to the red wine vinegar and the freshly grated ginger. These truly are the tastes of summer—savor every incredible bite.
Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans
Recipe: Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecan
This recipe is like your honey-can-do list because it shares so many incredible ways honey can make dishes taste delicious. Mixed with white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard it transforms into an incredible Honey Dressing; spread over pecans, and seasoned, it turns everyday nuts into the spicy-sweet Honeyed Pecans. Then, when the two are combined, they create the Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans, a seasonal-greens sensation served on a bed of spinach piled high with fresh berries and sliced red onion. Creamy blue cheese and crispy bacon add two incredible flavors and textures, but it is the "opposites attract" amazement of the spicy Honeyed Pecans that truly steals the show.
Jicama-and-Bell Pepper Slaw
Recipe: Jicama-and-Bell Pepper Slaw
Since Southerners regard coleslaw as a summer side-dish necessity, new approaches to this picnic table to family formal dinnertime treat are always welcome. This recipe tosses cabbage to the curb in favor of thinly sliced jicama, mint leaves, juicy bell peppers, and Strawberry-Lemonade Jam. This makes for a deliciously refreshing slaw that works well with barbecued meats or for any other occasion where you might find traditional coleslaw on the table. Try this new sensation. You'll love its crunch, its spice, and its little bit of bite, all tempered by the seasonal summer-fruit sweetness of that Strawberry-Lemonade Jam.
Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad
Recipe: Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad
Grilling peaches is an incredible way to bring the beautiful flavors of their sugars to the fore. You'll love the smoky-sweet flavors you get with these peaches fresh off the grill. To get a truly taste-of-the-south twist on a traditional classic, fresh peaches replace tomatoes in this Southern take on Insalata Caprese. Fresh mozzarella cheese slices bring an incredible creaminess, richness, and depth to the salad, delicately balancing the grilled peaches. A drizzle of cilantro vinaigrette spiked with tequila adds the finishing touch—as well as a fun surprise, a deliciously unexpected taste, and sharp bite.
Green Bean, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Green Bean, Grape, and Pasta Salad
If you're a broccoli salad fan, you'll love the combination of these colorful ingredients. Cook the pasta al dente, so it's firm enough to hold its own when tossed with the tangy-sweet salad dressing. The toasted pecans, mixed with the pasta, grapes, and onions, add just a touch of rich, nutty flavor to the salad. When stirred in, the bacon brings in notes of smokiness. Both the bacon and the pecans are bright spots of crunchiness, but the crisp green beans also have a lot of bite and the perfectly cooked pasta holds its own. This salad gets the balance of sweet and salty just right.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Recipe: Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Enjoying the bounty of summer produce makes savoring the tastes of the season enticing. This is a great go-to salad when simplicity is a priority. Using bottled vinaigrette makes having a dressing on-hand easy, while preparing the salad itself is a matter of slicing a few items and getting some fresh and delicious ingredients combined. What makes this salad is getting the proportions right; we've used a package of blue cheese for richness and creaminess, and a container of strawberries for sweetness. It's hard to beat this quick-fix salad for the perfect summer side dish.
Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Salad
Recipe: Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Salad
A make-ahead recipe for great chicken salad is like money in the bank when it comes to easy entertaining—and this is one the best. You will marvel at the combination of the crunchy chopped pecans that you've lightly toasted, and finely chopped celery stalks; the creaminess of mayonnaise; and the distinctive flavor and aroma of fresh tarragon. Toss in three cups of chopped cooked chicken this is a homemade chicken salad to savor. A wreath of pencil-thin green beans creates a simple but striking garnish. Keep some in the refrigerator for a summer family lunch and quick picnics or trips to the beach will be ready in a jiffy.
Spinach-Chopped Grape Salad
Recipe: Spinach-Chopped Grape Salad
Chopped salads are all the rage. The fact that this irresistible combo is super healthy and light is just an added bonus. This is a salad that should be considered when you are planning a menu for entertaining. One online reviewer remarked that it "presents beautifully and is impressive enough to serve to company." This is high praise indeed. You can even turn it into an entrée by topping this Spinach-Grape Chopped Salad with grilled flank steak or steamed shrimp. Served simply, the recipe combines the sweet and savory tastes of grapes and feta cheese; when embellished, the grilled steak or steamed shrimp can add smoky or salty undertones to this fantastic delight.
Sliced Tomatoes With Fresh Peach-Basil Vinaigrette
Recipe: Fresh Peach-Basil Vinaigrette
Vinaigrettes are great ways to flavor fruits or vegetables, and to bring distinct flavor profiles to summer salads and side dishes. These Sliced Tomatoes with Fresh Peach Basil Vinaigrette are delicately seasoned. The vinaigrette begins with white balsamic vinegar—because its taste is not too overpowering, then adds in brown sugar, garlic, and basil, and finally gets sweetened with a freshly chopped peach. What results is a simple but unexpected combination of flavors that is absolutely delicious. Regardless of what you flavor with this, you'll taste how special it is with the very first bite.