A summer salad makes the best use of fresh, seasonal produce and can be a light meal in itself or a refreshing side dish. Taking advantage of the low prices of the season also means getting the most flavorful and nutrient-dense ingredients. Here are 50 recipes to freshen up your summer menus.
Green beans are one of those garden crops that are perennially plentiful. Shoppers can find low prices on green beans at farmers markets, if you don't already have them growing in your own garden. This simple salad dresses them up while letting their natural flavors shine.
Recipe: Simply Recipes
Classic potato salad is a summer staple for many, making appearances at family gatherings, picnics, and barbecues. Potatoes are inexpensive all year round, making this an easy recipe to whip up for a large gathering. They are also a filling option for folks who aren't into green, leafy salads.
Asparagus and strawberries both have a short season for peak flavor and low prices, so they often get tossed together in simple salads that showcase their hyper-seasonal flavors. This recipe uses balsamic vinegar to tease out their fresh tastes even more.
Recipe: Honest Cooking
While standard varieties of lettuce like iceberg and romaine hearts can be found year round, tender young lettuces are a specialty of summer gardens. If you've planted your own, this salad costs just pennies, and remains inexpensive even if bought from local food markets.
Recipe: Bon Appetit
Perfectly ripe summer melons don't need much, which is why this recipe is kept so simple. A touch of mint boosts the refreshment factor and creates a counterpoint to the melon's sweetness. The subtle addition creates a sophisticated dish out of basic ingredients.
Sorrel is making a comeback across the nation as a go-to green. It has a lemony flavor and mouth-drying tannins. It adds loads of texture and zest to dishes. You can combine the sorrel with other greens or use it as the main lettuce for an intense, puckery effect.
Recipe: Everyone Eats Right
Zucchini are plentiful during the summer months and very inexpensive. Having a number of ways to prepare zucchini and summer squash keeps them from getting boring, which allows you to take advantage of the low cost. This marinated salad works plenty of flavor into what can otherwise be a bland vegetable.
Recipe: New York Times
Radishes tend to be used as a small part of a side dish or an ingredient in a salad, but why not make them the star once in a while. This typical Korean side dish infuses the radish with even more spicy, umami flavor that tastes good on its own, in sandwiches, with grilled fish and meat, really anything.
Smashing and salting cucumbers allows them a chance to lose some water, which actually keeps them crunchy longer. Tossed with simple-yet-pungent ingredients like sesame oil and garlic, they hit all of the right points: refreshing, crisp, and wildly flavorful.
Recipe: New York Times
Balsamic vinegar is often paired with strawberries because it has a similar sweet-tart flavor profile. When combined, they draw out the flavors in one another, creating more than the sum of their parts. While this recipe uses feta, any crumbly soft cheese works well, even blue.
Yet another way to combine the flavors of summer into one bowl, this chopped salad is simple and delicious. You can use this salad as a base for chicken or fish for an easy meal, or stuff it into pita with hummus and feta for a quick lunch that is cheap and healthy.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
The flavor of spinach fresh from a local summer farm is much deeper than the store-bought kind available year round. This classic salad uses a warm bacon dressing for fresh baby spinach. Some of the tender leaves get semi-cooked, giving you the best of both spinach worlds.
Recipe: Smitten Kitchen
There's no better time than to indulge in Greek salad than summer, when all of the ingredients are in full harvest. Turn Greek salad into a quick meal by topping with steak, chicken, or chickpeas. Keeping a bowl on hand in the fridge can help keep you from ordering expensive takeout.
Recipe: Food Network
Adding grilled steak to a spinach salad is a satisfying meal that is handy for those avoiding carbs. Adding blueberries to the mix brings in a burst of fresh flavor and interesting depth that can only be enjoyed during the summer with fresh berries.
Turning zucchini into noodles is cost effective, healthy, and fun. Once zoodled, they can be used in a variety of dishes, from ramen to cacio e pepe. This fresh salad keeps the noodles crisp, tossed with a basic dressing and other fresh vegetables.
Recipe: Two Peas and Their Pod
Asparagus can be prepared in so many ways, and one of the most satisfying is by tossing it onto a hot grill or a grill pan for a few minutes to get it nicely charred. The caramelization brings out its earthy flavor, which works well paired with other summer flavors such as lime, herbs, and tomato.
Recipe: Food and Wine
Take advantage of seasonal fruit by incorporating fruit salad into any meal. This basic fruit salad keeps well in the fridge allowing you to make a large batch to enjoy alongside breakfast, as a snack, or as a dessert with a spoonful of whipped cream.
Recipe: Lovely Little Kitchen
It's easy to find yourself with an overabundance of peaches and nectarines in the summer. One of the quickest and simplest ways to put them to delicious use is to build a simple salad around them. This recipe combines greens and toasted nuts for texture and flavor diversity.
Recipe: Cooking Light