50 Easy Salads to Make the Most of Summer Produce


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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 Bean Salad
Photo credit: JCStudio/shutterstock

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

Caprese Salad
Photo credit: Olga Nayashkova/shutterstock

A few high-quality ingredients can be better than many ingredients of varying quality. This classic combination of summer ripe tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and garden basil follows this Italian philosophy of using only the best and keeping it simple. 

Recipe: Food Network

Lemon and Herb Rice Salad
Photo credit: MariaKovaleva/shutterstock

This dish conveys all of the freshness of summer with its bright lemony zing and deep earthy herbs. Use what you have on hand from the garden or leftover herb odds and ends from other recipes to make this even more versatile and cost-effective. 

Recipe: Food Network

Potato Salad
Photo credit: Foodio/shutterstock

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

Recipe: Allrecipes

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Photo credit: Ildi Papp/shutterstock

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

Fresh Berry Salad
Photo credit: Alena Haurylik/shutterstock

Summer is berry season, which means you can load up on flavorful, antioxidant-rich berries at farmers markets or pick your own for even better prices. Take advantage of the bounty by making a simple-yet-elevated salad of berries, mint, lemon, and honey. 

Recipe: Gimme Some Oven

Young Lettuces Salad
Photo credit: Africa Studio/shutterstock

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

Cucumber Salad
Photo credit: Tatiana Volgutova/shutterstock

Cucumber vines tend to produce a ton of fruit, causing prices to drop in the summer. This classic cucumber salad recipe makes a tangy and crunchy dish that stays good in the fridge for a couple of days. 

Recipe: Food Network

Corn And Tomato Salad
Photo credit: Elena Veselova/shutterstock

This salsa-esque salad recipe is a go-to when ears of corn cost around 50 cents or less. A true picture of a summer garden, the flavors work together effortlessly. Mix and match other fresh herbs, or substitute your favorites to make the recipe your own. 

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Chicken taco salad
Photo credit: StephanieFrey/istockphoto

This piquant taco salad is full of colorful, flavorful, and nutritious summer vegetables. Mix and match with what you have on hand to build your base. Keep this as a vegetarian entree or add your animal protein of choice. 

Recipe: Organic Authority

Watermelon Feta Salad
Photo credit: Lukas Gojda/shutterstock

The contrast of tangy salty feta and sweet, crunchy watermelon enhances the characteristics of each element. Since popping up a few years ago, this salad has become a mainstay of summer. 

Recipe: Tori Avey

Photo credit: Lesya Dolyuk/shutterstock

A traditional peasant dish, panzanella uses seasonal vegetables with day-old bread to avoid wasting food that has passed its peak of freshness. As with many dishes rooted in frugality, the humble motivations have created something uniquely delicious. 

Recipe: Chowhound

Melon and Mint Salad
Photo credit: Elena Shashkina/shutterstock

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. 

Recipe: Tablespoon

Sorrel Salad
Photo credit: early spring salad by wayne marshall (CC BY-NC-SA)

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

Marinated Zucchini Salad
Photo credit: Peredniankina/shutterstock

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

Summertime Slaw
Photo credit: Kiian Oksana/shutterstock

Slaw is already one of the cheapest ways to feed a crowd, so adapting it to suit the season at hand makes it even more budget-friendly. In addition to the garden veggies, this recipe features a lighter vinegar-based dressing to keep flavors bright and zesty. 

Recipe: Taste of Home

Pesto Tomato Salad
Photo credit: Lesya Dolyuk/shutterstock

Tomatoes and basil go together in so many ways. Mix up your usual routine and add a classy spin to this combination by turning your fresh basil into pesto. 

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Photo credit: Dustin Dennis/shutterstock

Tomatoes are said to have more genes than humans, which may account for why there are so many varieties of them and why new types keep appearing. Heirloom tomatoes don't need a lot of dressing to taste good. The key here is to keep it simple. 

Recipe: Food and Wine

Spicy Radish Salad
Photo credit: TMON/shutterstock

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. 

Recipe: Maangchi

Smashed Cucumber Salad
Photo credit: Gayvoronskaya_Yana/shutterstock

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

Nectarine Spinach Salad
Photo credit: Ildi Papp/shutterstock

While frozen stone fruit can be enjoyed all year round, the texture of fresh nectarines is a seasonal treat that can be celebrated in a variety of ways. Juicy nectarines pair well with earthy spinach and spicy nuts in this recipe. 

Recipe: Cooking Light

Strawberry Balsamic Salad
Photo credit: Nelli Syrotynska/shutterstock

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. 

Recipe: Allrecipes

Provencal Bean Salad
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

This creamy salad adds a bit of heartiness and comfort to very simple summer beans. You can use any variety and combination of pole beans for this salad, including the dramatic purple beans for an extra pop of color. 

Recipe: Taste of Home

Israeli Salad
Photo credit: Fanfo/shutterstock

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

Spinach and Bacon Salad
Photo credit: David P. Smith/shutterstock

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

Greek Salad
Photo credit: Tiramisu Studio/shutterstock

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

Wedge Salad
Photo credit: S. M. Beagle/shutterstock

A wedge salad is light and crisp yet packs in lots of flavor thanks to blue cheese and bacon. This iconic salad can be enjoyed as a light meal or as a smaller portion for an appetizer. The crisp lettuce makes it refreshing during hot weather. 

Recipe: Bon Appetit

Grilled Steak, Blueberry and Spinach Salad
Photo credit: Catherine Murray/shutterstock

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. 

Recipe: EatingWell

Grilled Avocado Salad
Photo credit: margouillat photo/shutterstock

Grilled avocado works surprisingly well. The grill adds a charred flavor and deepens the flavor of the dish, making it taste more expensive than it is. Paired with simple veggies and a light dressing, it makes an impressive platter. 

Recipe: Food Network

Zucchini Noodle Salad
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

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

Strawberry Tomato Salad
Photo credit: Wiktory/shutterstock

Berries and tomatoes are not a typical combination, but they actually work quite well together. This dish looks especially beautiful when using a mix of colored tomatoes like the green or purple ones. 

Recipe: Southern Living

Peach and Gorgonzola Salad
Photo credit: Stephanie Frey/shutterstock

Gorgonzola is a particularly pungent blue cheese with a rich, creamy texture. The soft yet firm-fleshed peaches provide just enough textural contrast for the cheese, and the sweetness of the fruit and the tang of the cheese are an easy match. 

Recipe: Not Enough Cinnamon

Herb Salad
Photo credit: Elenadesign/shutterstock

Herbs tend to accumulate both in the garden and in the fridge, left over from one-time uses in a recipe. Put them to more use by making them the base of your salad before they spoil and end up in the waste bin

Recipe: Allrecipes

Grilled Chicken Mango Salad
Photo credit: AS Food studio/shutterstock

This healthy and tasty meal combines the summery flavors of grilled chicken and juicy mango with crisp veggies. This recipe would work equally well by substituting ripe stone fruit like peaches or nectarines for the mango. 

Recipe: Get Inspired Everyday!

Grilled Asparagus Salad
Photo credit: ElenaGaak/shutterstock

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

Summer Pasta Salad
Photo credit: NoirChocolate/shutterstock

Infuse this picnic and party staple with seasonal flair by incorporating summer produce. This not only keeps costs down while bulking up the volume, it also adds pops of bold flavor and the best possible nutrition. 

Recipe: All Recipes

Summer Fruit Cup Salad
Photo credit: Alena Haurylik/shutterstock

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

Crispy Prosciutto and Melon Salad
Photo credit: vanillaechoes/shutterstock

Salty and fatty, cured ham is the ideal contrast to sweet melon. This recipe can be a family-style appetizer or side dish. It features prosciutto that's been crisped up in a microwave and feta cheese. 

Recipe: Southern Living

Simple Arugula Salad
Photo credit: Arina P Habich/shutterstock

Fresh arugula has a bold pepper taste, much more intense than the baby versions available from the supermarkets year round. Since it has such a pungent flavor, it can stand alone as a simple salad with just a basic dressing. 

Recipe: The Kitchn

Stone Fruit Salad
Photo credit: Stone Fruit Salad (3) by April Schneider (None)

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

Jicama and Bell Pepper Slaw
Photo credit: Ahturner/shutterstock

Bell peppers are one of the mainstays of summer, dropping considerably in price over the season. Take advantage of the low prices by using them in novel ways, like this slaw that also features crunchy and cooling jicama. 

Recipe: Southern Living

Spicy Jalapeno Mango Chicken
Photo credit: Martin Turzak/shutterstock

Spicy chilies are at their peak in warm weather, making summer the ideal time to cook with a little heat. This salad combines plenty of chilies with sweet mango to balance out the spice level and protein-rich chicken to make it a complete meal. 

Recipe: BBC's Good Food

Tomatillo Salad
Photo credit: nadi555/shutterstock

Tomatillos are the small green tomato-like fruit that comes encased in its own paper cover. While traditionally used cooked in sauces, when they're chopped and added raw to salads, they provide a burst of tangy acidity that is refreshing in summer heat. 

Recipe: A Communal Table

Melon and Mozzarella Salad
Photo credit: margouillat photo/shutterstock

Soft, sweet melon combines with creamy and mild mozzarella for a versatile side dish or light summer lunch. Shaping the melon into balls of a similar size as the mozzarella adds a touch of elegance to the dish. 

Recipe: Pinch My Salt

Grilled Romaine Salad
Photo credit: Scott Biales/shutterstock

Grilling romaine offers a unique take on a classic salad while incorporating the iconic fired-up flavor of summer into every bite. This recipe uses bacon and blue cheese for a twist on the classic wedge salad. 

Recipe: Saveur

Bruschetta Pasta Salad
Photo credit: wideonet/shutterstock

Combine two summer favorites into one by tossing classic bruschetta mix in with pasta rather than on top of crostini. The flavors are light and bright and continue to get better as the elements marinate together. 

Recipe: Delish

Spicy Corn and Jalapeno Salad
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Corn and chilies work well together to create layers of flavor that are both sweet and spicy. Grilling the corn for this recipe adds even more flavor and sets it up to pair well with grilled meats and other vegetables. 

Recipe: Magnolia Days

Avocado Chimichurri Salad
Photo credit: Avocado Avenger - The Perfect Blend by Jackie Sobon (None)

This salad is packed with summer vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The chimichurri sauce is largely made up of refreshing herbs that you might even have in your garden: mint, cilantro, and chives. 

Recipe: VegNews

Watermelon Caprese
Photo credit: nata_nytiaga/shutterstock

Substitute watermelon for tomatoes in a classic caprese salad recipe and enjoy a unique and surprisingly delicious outcome. The slight crunch of the watermelon adds texture while its sweetness works well with the mozzarella. 

Recipe: Rachael Ray

Salad Nicoise
Photo credit: Ivan Mateev/shutterstock

A classic French salad, the fresh components are largely based around summer produce. High-quality tuna and anchovies make this a filling, protein-packed meal in itself. 

Recipe: Saveur

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