Great Summer Salads
Shaved Cucumber Greek Salad
Besides looking crisp and cool, cukes offer up lots of vitamin C.
Arugula, Grape, and Sunflower Seed Salad
By including a variety of ingredients, salads are often a nutritional powerhouse: This recipe provides lots of antioxidants from the grapes, healthy fats and vitamin E from the sunflower seeds and grapeseed oil, and folate and vitamin A from the arugula. A sweet mustard vinaigrette dressing matches both the peppery bitterness of the greens and the sweet juiciness of the grapes. Try this salad topped with salmon or tuna for a healthful dinner.
Fresh and fast, this meatless main redefines the art of convenience cooking. We toast the bread in the oven, but if you already have the grill cranked up, this salad easily transitions to an outdoor dish. If your bakery carries whole-grain ciabatta, use it for a nutrition boost.
Rosy Beet-and-Quinoa Salad
This earthy whole-grain salad holds up well, so it's a good make-ahead option; just bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Summer Melon and Ham Salad with Burrata and Chile
"This is an obvious play on melon wedges wrapped in prosciutto," Christensen says. "Here the melon is sliced to the same thickness as the ham. Instead of 'making melon taste good,' it puts two beautiful things in balance. I love the balance of the musky fruit with the salty-sweet ham and the creaminess of the burrata cheese (you can sub fresh mozzarella). You have a lot of strong flavors at play, and the cheese sets the canvas for the whole thing.”
Snap Pea Salad with Whipped Ricotta
Look for pea tendrils or shoots at your farmers market or Asian markets; if you can't find them, substitute watercress or arugula.
Veggie Salad in a Jar
Layer a colorful salad in portable glass jars. Kids will give it a thumbs-up. Make these salads up to a day ahead; pack them tightly with the dressing on the bottom, followed by denser ingredients that won't get soggy while they marinate. Customize with your favorite seasonal veggies, fresh cheeses, and whole grains. These make great additions to lunch bags, picnic baskets, or road trip coolers and can easily double if you need lunch for 4 people.
Summer Melon Salad
To achieve beautiful, crater-free spheres, press the cup of the melon baller flat and firmly into the flesh of a halved seeded melon. Then turn 180 degrees (or 360 degrees if the melon needs additional shaping), and lift.
Porcini, Artichoke, and Parsley Salad
Wild porcini mushrooms and artichokes are in season from late spring to early summer and again in early fall in the Pacific Northwest. Fresh porcini are sweet, woodsy, and delicious when thinly sliced and served raw. Substitute thinly sliced cremini mushrooms if you can't get fresh porcini.
Lettuce Wedge and Potato Salad
The smoky bacon-mustard dressing that coats this salad is a play on Hot German Potato Salad, a summertime favorite and a classic Pennsylvania Dutch dish.
With fresh green beans, hearty garbanzos, and a smoky-creamy dressing, this Spanish tapas-style dish is unlike any other tuna salad you've tried. But it still takes less than 10 minutes to make and contains fewer than 400 calories per serving. High-quality tuna is a must; check European or Mediterranean markets for imported oil-packed tuna.
Melon Salad with Savory Granola
Heirloom Charentais melons have smooth, gray-green skin and bright orange flesh that is supersweet and fragrant. For a substitute you can use a combination of honeydew melon and cantaloupe.
Melon and Prosciutto Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano
Melon and prosciutto are a classic pairing; Parmigiano-Reggiano (don't skimp―use the real stuff) pumps up their flavor with its deep savoriness. Make this salad the centerpiece of an antipasto meal by serving with bruschetta and an assortment of olives, cheeses, and slices of salami or ham.
Asian Green Bean Salad
This light and fresh pasta salad, with its easy sweet-sour-spicy dressing, is wonderfully versatile. Serve as a side to just about any pork, beef, or salmon dish, or mix in canned tuna, leftover chicken, or chopped hard-boiled egg for a simple and healthful brown-bag lunch at work or school.
Spinach Salad with Grilled Shrimp
An Asian-flavored vinaigrette with an orange juice kicker is the secret to this simple salad, while ginger and cumin give the shrimp skewers nice spice.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Tomato Granita
One of our favorite things about summer is the effortless splendor of heirloom tomato salads. Ripe, peak-season specimens need almost no adornment, so skip the granita if you're in a rush. But if you have a few hours to let it freeze, it will make this dish spectacular.
Chicken Cobb Salad
With plenty of chicken, creamy avocado, bacon, and blue cheese, this is the classic entrée salad. Bottled Italian dressing cuts down on time (the whole recipe, including cooking the chicken, takes less than 15 minutes). But if you like, you can whip a quick low-fat vinaigrette for that homemade touch.
Stone Fruit Salad with Toasted Almonds
With a dressing of almond oil and a white wine reduction, plus a topping of tangy goat cheese, this recipe brings some added elegance to the everyday fruit salad. It makes a nice light lunch or dinner starter on its own, but you can top with sliced chicken breast to make it more substantial. Either way, serve with chilled glasses of the wine you used in the dressing.
Fresh English Pea Salad with Mint and Pecorino
English peas and mint are a classic combination, given extra depth of flavor here with the addition of savory pecorino and bitter arugula. Fresh lemon juice (always better than bottled) in the dressing brightens all the flavors. Crumbled feta or goat cheese make excellent substitutes for pecorino, and if you can't find fresh English peas, try green beans or sugar snap peas, or use frozen.
Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing
With a full pound of crabmeat, this is a luxurious dish that captures the fresh flavors of summer. It's a great way to highlight heirloom tomatoes from your local farmer's market or, even better, your own garden. A cold soup like vichyssoise or cucumber soup (or gazpacho, if you're a real tomato lover) makes a perfect pairing.
Grilled Sirloin Salad
Opposites attract in this dish: hot steak sits atop cold salad, and tender meat contrasts with crunchy vegetables. The basic salad with red wine-lemon vinaigrette is easy and works great, but you can customize the salad with your favorite vegetables (or fruits) and dressing. Just about anything will match the steak.
Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Main-dish salads with just greens can feel insubstantial at times, so this dish adds a base of orzo to fresh arugula, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and basil. Tangy goat cheese gives a luscious creaminess to each bite, and chopped chicken makes for a filling meal. Leave out the chicken and double the other ingredients for a picnic pasta salad that'll drive guests wild.
Creole Tomato Salad
This simple no-cook salad is one of the best ways to highlight heirloom tomatoes, with its counterpoint of pungent raw onion and a light Dijon vinaigrette. You can also make this salad the spotlight of a great BLT (use the dressing in place of mayo), or add sliced mozzarella cheese for a Creole Caprese Salad.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
Blanching some of the vegetables before grilling ensures they'll be cooked to perfection, but adds only three minutes to the cooking time. You can also grill the veggies ahead of time and assemble this salad in seconds. The fantastic dressing is sure to become a staple, too; you can put it on anything.
Melon and Fig Salad with Prosciutto and Balsamic Drizzle
The salty and sweet flavor combination in this salad cannot be beat. A drizzle of tangy balsamic proves to be the perfect finishing touch.
Lemony Grilled Potato Salad
Grilling the vegetables brings unexpected smokiness to a familiar picnic staple.
Black Pepper Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Romano
This mayonnaise-based pasta salad veers from the traditional with salty Italian ham, nutty asparagus, and a generous grinding of pepper.
Herby Cucumber Salad
Creamy and tangy, this simple side comes together in a flash. Don't make the salad ahead--the cucumbers will release too much water.
Pinto, Black, and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado
"When I was growing up in Mexico City, my parents would throw wonderful summer barbecues," says Chef Medina (Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, New York City). "We would grill corn on the cob and mix in leftover beans from the weekend and make a delicious, simple corn and bean salad." This Latin-accented three-bean and corn salad is studded with guacamole components: jalapeño, cilantro, white onion, lime, and avocado.
Grilled Caesar Salad
Grilling lettuce gives it a hint of smokiness and lends the leaves crisp-tender contrast. Toasted garlic bread stands in for croutons.
Lemony Cucumber Salad
Don’t forget that something fresh, vibrant, and crunchy is often missing from potluck gatherings; this easy salad will get gobbled up quickly because it satisfies on those levels.
Indonesian Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing
This is a simplified version of the splendid Indonesian salad called gado gado, which along with satay is practically a national dish, often served with crunchy shrimp crackers. It uses shortcut ingredients in the sauce—peanut butter, curry paste—to speed things along. For a spicier dressing, stir in sambal oelek or Sriracha.
Farro, Green Bean, and Fennel Salad with Tuna
To make this a full whole-grain salad, avoid pearled farro, which has been partially processed. Yes, it takes a little longer, but to save time, hunt down some precooked whole-grain farro. It's found on the rice aisle. The recipe, however, begins with uncooked grain, which needs an hour in the pot and a little time to cool. We recently tasted—and loved—Wild Planet's wild albacore tuna, jarred in olive oil, which is firm, meaty, rich, and moist. We also love that it's sustainable, 100% pole and troll caught.
Spinach-Pea Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Sweet, briny shrimp are lovely here—seared scallops would be, too. For a beautiful garnish, purchase edible flowers, separate the petals, and scatter them on top. Grilled whole-wheat pita makes wonderfully thin croutons; we like whole-wheat, but you can use white pita, too.
Grilled Caponata Salad with Grilled Flatbreads
Look for caper berries near the olives in the supermarket; they should be next to the capers, but they're much bigger and have a stem. In a pinch, substitute about a tablespoon of chopped capers. Japanese eggplants have thinner skins than typical globe eggplants, so you can leave the peel on. The light purple color is pretty, too.