When the weather is warm and you need a lightweight meal, but still want to be excited about your food, how often do you turn to salad? Sometimes salads get a bad rap for being devoid of culinary joy, but summer salads can be lively, bursting with flavor and beautiful meal centerpieces!
Salad is a perfect potluck dish, too. You can double these recipes to provide a hearty meal for big parties or to meal prep for your family’s upcoming busy week.
From on-the-go dishes to deconstructed sandwiches, here are 12 summer salads that will change what salad means to you.
This garden salad is an eclectic mix of veggies from fresh from the vine. Crisp cucumber paired with salty olives and sweet tomatoes lays the ground for a flavor explosion this summer.
TJ’s Pasta Salad
Pasta can sometimes be heavy, but Trader Joe’s cool cucumber, salami and tortellini salad won’t weigh you down. Paired with a tangy vinaigrette, this summer salad will be a hit wherever you bring it.
This taco salad is a cinch to make and won’t break the bank. Just crunch up a bag of your favorite Doritos, add your favorite taco meat and mix in all the toppings you want!
Sure, you could make a regular bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich. But this BLT salad looks so much prettier! Plus, you cut most of those extra carbs from bread and keep your summer salad lightweight.
Grilled eggplant is a good starting point for any recipe. Add farro, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes for a heavenly summer salad straight from the Mediterranean coast.
German ‘Tater Salad
There’s nothing like a spuddy side – you can add almost anything to chopped potatoes and everyone will love the dish! This German potato salad hinges on that law, adding crispy bacon and green onions to the table staple.
Surely a recipe calling for six ears of corn can only be good news, right? This salad calls for a dressing of Greek yogurt and squeezed lime over both charred and raw corn for a fresh and tangy summer salad.
Broken Down Bloody Mary
Take a classic drink and turn it into a summer salad? Delish’s Laura Rege said “no problem.” Try her Bloody Mary pasta salad, which adds pasta (instead of vodka) to staple Bloody Mary ingredients like horseradish, tomatoes, bacon and celery.
Pancetta and Peas
Kermit the Frog taught us that being green isn’t easy, but this super-green snow pea and mint salad is sure easy to make! Thick pancetta adds color, texture and protein to this summery mix.
Fruit, But Make It Salad
The Wiggles always told us that fruit salad is “yummy, yummy,” and who could argue with childhood authority figures? Summer salads don’t have to consist of vegetables to be a hit at your next soiree, so try Sugar-Free Mom’s watermelon and cantaloupe fruit salad!
Rooting For Flavor
This roasted carrot salad with brown butter vinaigrette and arugula will keep your guests talking for weeks! The salad’s harmonious blend of paprika, fennel, coriander and thyme is inspiring enough to give Simon & Garfunkel new song material.
If you want a salad that takes you back to warm evenings in Tuscan hills, try this lentils and roasted peppers salad topped with goat cheese and parsley! Be careful – consumption of this summer salad may prompt you to buy a one-way plane ticket to Italy.
For more summer salad content, check out this nectarine and fennel summer salad review and recipe by Sprouted Kitchen’s Sara Forte. If you’ve decided on a salad but want to pair it with some barbecue, grab our dry rub recipe!