33 Best Summer Salads
This is my absolute favorite time of year. We had a really cold, rainy spring, but all of a sudden, summer is here! We’re seeing the sun, the days are heating up, and gorgeous summer produce is popping up at the farmers markets. We’re getting tomatoes, soft, sweet greens, strawberries, and fresh herbs, and corn is just around the corner.
At this time of year, produce is so good on its own that you don’t need to do much to it to make it into a delicious meal. On beautiful days when I’d rather be outside than in the kitchen, summer salads are the perfect solution: they’re simple to toss together, but they’re totally delicious nonetheless. Here are some of my favorite summer salad recipes to pass at potlucks, to enjoy as dinner sides, or to eat as full meals on their own.
Slaws are some of the best make-ahead summer salad recipes out there. Typically made with hearty vegetables like cabbage, kale, or broccoli, they’re sturdy enough to be dressed ahead of time. I like to accent the veggie base with a punchy dressing, herbs, and even fruit for maximum flavor.
1. Summer Asian Slaw
Make this salad for your next picnic, and it’ll be a guaranteed hit. A tahini miso dressing gives it a creamy umami coating, while peaches add juicy pops of sweetness. I finish it with toasted pepitas for crunch.
2. Best Broccoli Salad
You won’t miss the bacon in this lightened-up take on classic broccoli salad. Smoky roasted nuts take its place, adding those delectable savory bites. A lightly creamy, sweet & tangy dressing takes the whole thing over the top.
You couldn’t make a list of summer salads without including this category! Pasta salads are the ultimate summer picnic food – they’re great to make ahead, they can double as a side and a main dish, and they’re a hearty showcase for the season’s best produce.
3. Easy Pasta Salad
As its name suggests, this one is a breeze to make. Just whisk together the zippy lemon dressing at the bottom of a big bowl, add the other ingredients, and toss to create a heavenly tangy/creamy/crunchy/fresh summer combo.
4. Rainbow Orzo Salad
Diced mango adds a surprising sweet twist to this colorful orzo, red onion, bell pepper, herb, and cucumber salad.
5. Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad
My veggie-packed take on a deli-style pasta salad! I swap spiralized summer squash for half the noodles and a creamy tahini dressing for a mayo-based one. It’s a healthier version of the grocery counter classic, but it’s just as good.
6. Broccoli Pasta Salad
Sun-dried tomatoes add delicious umami bites to this super green combination of summer veggies, basil, pasta, and pine nuts.
7. Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
A mix of jammy roasted cherry tomatoes and juicy fresh ones makes this guy one of my favorite summer salads. With spiced roasted chickpeas, tangy feta, and big pearls of couscous, it’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own.
8. Sesame Soba Noodles
Not your average pasta salad! Tossed in a tangy sesame-ginger dressing and piled with green veggies and avocado, this soba noodle salad is a light, refreshing summer meal.
Green Summer Salads
I eat more green salads in the summer than at any other time of year. The lettuces I find at the farmers market are so soft & sweet that a big green summer salad is really a treat. I’ll often make these recipes for lunch, but you could also toss them together to serve as a side dish at your next cookout.
9. Healthy Taco Salad
Savory shiitake walnut taco “meat” is the star of this salad, and zippy cilantro lime dressing gives it a fresh finishing touch. Enjoy this salad as a meal on its own, or serve it as a starter with fajitas or tacos.
10. Vegan Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon
This plant-based riff on a classic Cobb salad swaps baked tofu for chicken breast and smoky toasted coconut for bacon. A creamy, tangy dressing ties it all together.
11. Grilled Romaine Vegan Caesar Wedges
One of my favorite green salads of all time! Crisp romaine gets lightly charred, then drizzled with an irresistibly tangy cashew vegan caesar dressing. This one is on page 111 of our new cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day.
If there’s one veggie (or fruit, if you’re looking to get technical) that’s the star of summer, the tomato is definitely it. Here are some of my favorite summer salad recipes that put tomatoes front & center.
12. Spicy Watermelon Tomato Salad
Fresh chiles add some heat to the sweet, juicy mix of tomatoes & watermelon in this recipe.
13. Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad
Roasting cherry tomatoes gives them an intense sweet & savory flavor that’s fantastic alongside eggplant, arugula, and nutty farro.
14. Heirloom Tomato Fattoush
Once you start bringing home those juicy farmers market heirloom tomatoes, make this salad! It’s my non-traditional take on fattoush, a bread salad made with toasted pita. This one has a layer of lemony yogurt and is topped with crispy chickpeas, and lots of fresh herbs. Find it on on page 125 of Love & Lemons Every Day.
15. Tomato & Avocado Salad
The secret to this salad is marinating the tomatoes in a splash of olive oil & sherry vinegar. They become rich & tangy – the perfect contrast for fresh basil, avocado, and a little orzo pasta.
16. Heirloom Caprese with Mint Pesto
I use mint pesto in place of basil in this riff on a classic caprese salad. Of course, fresh basil or basil pesto is equally delicious.
Corn Summer Salad Recipes
If tomatoes are #1 at this time of year, corn comes in as a close #2. Grilled, steamed, or fresh off the cob, it’s the perfect addition to all sorts of summer salads.
17. Summer Corn Salad
This fresh corn salad features all my summer favorites: grilled sweet corn, juicy peaches, and lots of fresh basil! To highlight the crisp, fresh ingredients, I toss it with a zesty chile lime dressing.
18. Mexican Street Corn Salad
If you’ve ever had Mexican street corn, you know that the combination of charred corn, crumbly Cotija, creamy mayo, and cilantro is a hard one to beat. I like to spice mine up with sriracha or adobo sauce, too!
Panzanellas are hands down my favorite summer salads. You just can’t beat big cubes of bread tossed with juicy summer produce and a good tangy vinaigrette. You can always serve these salads as a side, but they’re great main dish options as well.
19. Sweet Corn & Arugula Panzanella
Panzanellas may be Italian bread salads, but this recipe’s not all about the bread. Crisp, juicy sweet corn is front and center, playing perfectly off a tangy dressing and bitter greens. I use the corn raw, so this panzanella is super simple to toss together.
20. Sweet Pepper Panzanella
Grilled peppers add a lovely sweetness to this veggie-packed summer salad. Along with the veggies, creamy fresh mozzarella makes it extra yummy.
21. Summer Panzanella Salad
I like to call this one an “everything summer salad.” It’s bursting with juicy peaches, tomatoes, crisp corn, and fresh basil – the best that summer has to offer.
22. Pattypan Panzanella
When you’ve made zucchini bread, zucchini cake, baked zucchini, and zucchini pizza, and you STILL have zucchini, make this panzanella. The grilled squash is a great jammy contrast to crisp cucumbers and bursty cherry tomatoes.
Potato Summer Salads
It’s taken me a while to get on board with potato salads, but over the last few years of experimenting with bold dressings and different mix-ins, I’ve become totally hooked. Here are a few of my favorites.
23. Creamy Potato Salad
This lightened-up rendition of classic potato salad has a luscious Greek yogurt dressing with just a bit of mayo mixed in. It’s the perfect make-ahead summer salad, as the flavor deepens as it sits in the fridge.
24. Grilled Potato Salad with Scallion Vinaigrette
If you’re grilling veggie burgers, make this summer salad right along with them. Not only are the potatoes grilled here, but the blueberries are too! A yummy grilled scallion vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and pickled onions accent this fun sweet/charred pairing.
25. Chimichurri Potato Salad
I toss this potato salad in a tangy, herbaceous chimichurri instead of a creamy dressing. It’s a fan favorite from Love & Lemons Every Day – find it on page 119.
26. Purple Potato & Green Bean Salad
This summery bean salad is incredibly versatile. Dress it up with a soft-boiled egg or chickpeas to make it a meal, or serve the mix of potatoes, green beans, and lemony dressing as a simple grilling side.
Fruity Summer Salads
Of course, your summer salads should feature the wonderful fresh vegetables we have at this time of year, but it’d be remiss not to take advantage of the fantastic fruits that abound too! Stone fruits, berries, and melon are all delicious sweet additions to summer salad recipes.
27. Tart Cherry Tabbouleh
Skip the tomatoes the next time you’re making tabbouleh, and use dried tart cherries instead! They add great chewy texture and sweet/tart flavor to this fresh dish.
28. Strawberry Tabbouleh
Or…use strawberries! Like tomatoes, they’re juicy & sweet. Another nontraditional ingredient – feta – adds a great salty contrast to the berries in this recipe.
29. Watermelon Poke Bowls
This poke-inspired summer salad features juicy cubes of watermelon and crunchy macadamia nuts along with conventional poke fixings like cucumber, ginger & avocado. I toss it all in a tangy tamari-lime dressing to make a super fresh, fun summer dish.
30. Peach & Plum Caprese Salad
Sure, we all love tomatoes & basil, but peaches & basil are just as good.
31. Strawberry Caprese Salad
Another fruity caprese combo! This time, I use strawberries as well as cherry tomatoes, and I gussy it up with a balsamic reduction, avocado, and toasted pecans for a sweet, nutty crunch.
32. Festive Fruit Salad
Fruit salads are a summer essential, and we absolutely love this fresh lemon-ginger one. I like to use a star cookie cutter to cut the melon for festive summer flare!
33. Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
Make this ultra-refreshing salad on hot summer days! Creamy avocado, tangy feta, and bright lime wonderfully accent cool, juicy melon and cucumber. A handful of fresh herbs is the perfect finishing touch.
Let me know what your favorite summer salads are!
Summer Salads: Our Favorite Corn Salad
Author: Jeanine Donofrio
Recipe type: Salad
- 3 ears of grilled corn on the cob
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- ½ small cucumber, diced
- 2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
- 1 small avocado, pitted and diced
- 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
- juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
- 3 tablespoons Chile Lime Dressing, plus more to taste
- sea salt
- ¼ cup mayo or vegan mayo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, including stems, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
- ⅓ serrano, plus more to taste
- pinch of garlic powder
- pinch of onion powder
- sea salt
- Make the dressing: In a small food processor, combine the avocado mayonnaise, olive oil, cilantro, lime, serrano, garlic powder, onion powder and a few generous pinches of salt. Pulse until combined. Chill until ready to use.
- Slice the kernels off of the grilled corn and place in a large bowl. Add the red pepper, green pepper, cucumber, peaches, avocado, basil, lime juice, a few pinches of salt, and toss. Add a few tablespoons of dressing, toss again, then taste and add more dressing and/or salt to taste. Serve with extra dressing and lime slices on the side.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta
Here’s a quickie recipe for those nights when you just need something fast and delicious. This Lemon Ricotta Pasta is super fast, light, and fresh, which makes it perfect for an easy weeknight dinner during the summer. The bright lemon flavor perfectly compliments the light and creamy ricotta, and the little pops of sweetness from the peas make every bite a little more interesting. Simple, fresh, and easy.
Originally posted 3-4-2011, updated 6-8-2022.
Do I Have to Use Fresh Lemon?
This is one of those recipes where you really do want to use a fresh lemon instead of bottled juice. The zest from the lemon adds a ton of bright, summery lemon flavor to the pasta without making the sauce too sour. We add just a little of the juice to balance the creaminess of the ricotta, but the zest is where you’re getting all that gorgeous sunny lemon flavor!
Not All Ricotta is Created Equal
I find there is quite a bit of variation in the quality of ricotta from brand to brand. Some are smooth, mild, and sweet like fresh milk, while others are bland and grainy. My preferred brand is Galbani, but they didn’t have any at the store when I went, so I got the generic Kroger brand. It was definitely a bit grainy, but the pasta was still quite delicious despite that!
Also, make sure to get whole milk ricotta. Low-fat ricotta just doesn’t hit the same in this recipe.
What Else Can I Add?
This simple pasta is a great jumping-off point for making a more elaborate pasta, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. Try adding some sliced chicken breast, fresh basil, or fresh spinach. Garlic butter shrimp would also go great with this pasta!
What to Serve with Lemon Ricotta Pasta
This pasta is so light and fresh that I suggest keeping any side dishes really simple, light, and fresh as well. I would go with a super simple side salad, or maybe some roasted asparagus and tomatoes.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- 1 lemon $0.89
- 8 oz. pasta* $0.67
- 1 cup frozen peas $0.50
- 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
- 1 Tbsp butter $0.11
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta $1.60
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.36
- 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.02
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste) $0.02
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper (or to taste) $0.02
Zest and juice the lemon. You’ll need about ½ tsp zest and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender). Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy water from the pot.
Place the frozen peas in the colander before draining the pasta so the pasta will thaw the peas as it drains.
Add the butter and minced garlic to a large skillet and sauté over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the drained pasta and peas, and about ½ cup of the starchy pasta cooking water to the skillet with the butter and garlic. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat.
Add the ricotta, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest to the skillet. Stir until everything is well combined, the residual heat from the skillet and pasta have warmed the ricotta, and the ricotta has formed a creamy sauce. Add more of the warm reserved pasta water if needed.
Season the pasta with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve warm.
How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pasta – Step By Step Photos
Zest and juice one lemon. You’ll need about ½ tsp of zest and 1 Tbsp juice.
Cook 8oz. pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender). Reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining.
Add 1 cup of frozen peas to a colander, then pour the boiled pasta over top to thaw the peas as you drain the pasta.
Add 1 Tbsp butter and 1 clove garlic to a large skillet. Sauté over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic becomes very fragrant.
Add the still-hot pasta and peas to the skillet along with about ½ cup of the hot reserved pasta water. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat.
Add 1 cup whole milk ricotta, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ½ tsp lemon zest to the pasta. Stir until the ingredients are combined, the residual heat from the pasta and skillet have warmed the ricotta, and the ricotta has turned into a creamy sauce.
Add more of the reserved pasta water if the mixture is too thick or too dry. Season the pasta with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.
Enjoy the lemon ricotta pasta while still warm!
The post Lemon Ricotta Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.
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