Stay Cool with these Easy Summer Salad Recipes

As the temperature rises, our longing to counter the heat with cool, fresh meals goes up with it. That’s why we’ve put together this summer guide with some of Steamy’s best summer salad recipes. From fresh produce to homemade salad dressings, these refreshing salads make a great side dish or main course for the whole family. 

tomato and watermelon salad

Why Salads Are Great for Summertime

Why are salads and summer a match made in heaven? Well, for starters, when the temperature starts to rise, the last thing anyone wants is to slave over a hot stove. Salads are light. They’re fun. They’re easy to make, and even better, they’re incredibly versatile. You can throw just about anything in a bowl and call it a salad. Got some leftover grilled chicken? Toss it in. A bunch of random veggies haunting your fridge? Toss that in too! Salads truly let you be as creative or as basic as you want, depending on your current vibe. And they’re a great way to use up those odd bits of produce you’re not sure what to do with.

Beyond convenience, salads are especially great in summer because they’re packed with nutrients, and you need those to beat the heat! A salad chock full of fresh veggies gives your body the dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that it craves. And they’re super hydrating! A lot of veggies have a high water content, like cucumbers and tomatoes.

Salads are also one of the best ways to enjoy seasonal produce. Summer is prime time for sweet strawberries, juicy peaches, and delicious cherries, and adding any (or all 3) of them can take your salads to another level. You can even create homemade dressings from summer fruits. (Read on to check out how to make a fresh strawberry vinaigrette!)

Speaking of which, let’s talk about dressings. A good dressing can make or break a salad. In summer, you get to enjoy lighter dressings like zesty vinaigrettes for a refreshing kick that won’t leave you feeling weighed down. And it’s super easy to make your own dressings at home with just a few ingredients, like olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey!

Salads are also very portable. Whether you want to eat on the patio or pack up a summer picnic lunch, it’s fairly easy to take a salad with you wherever you choose to soak up the summer vibes. 

Now that I’ve laid this out, I feel like there’s more reasons than not to enjoy salads in the summer. Personally, I just love the feeling of nourishing myself with crisp, refreshing, light fruits and veggies in the summertime. There’s something so satisfying about enjoying the taste of nature in its prime. 

Ready to beat the heat? Let’s jump into the best summer salads to keep you cool.

Chanterelle, Bacon and Plum Salad with Blue Cheese

A beautiful fall salad complete with chanterelle mushrooms

This list starts with one of my favorite summer salads. Sweet, juicy, caramelized plums. Barely sauteed fresh chanterelles. Crumbly blue cheese. Crisp savory bacon. If this nutritious recipe sounds delicious to you, you’re gonna love this salad! 

And, it’s adaptable! Not sure where to get chanterelles? Don’t worry. Any type of mushroom will do. Slice up some meaty portobello or even some white button mushrooms. No plums on hand? Feel free to use any stone fruit for this recipe, like peaches or nectarines. Stone fruits are summer fruits, and it’s the perfect time to use them! But the bacon? Sorry, but there’s no substitute for the bacon (other than vegan bacon). Trust me though, even if you have to make a grocery store run for bacon, it’s worth it.  

Find the full recipe here. 

 

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

A hydrating tomato and watermelon salad

If you’ve never thought of watermelon and feta cheese working together, you’re in for a treat! The combination of salty, sweet and refreshing ensures that every bite of this tomato salad is BURSTING with flavor. This recipe comes from Zov Karamardian’s book Simply Zov, Rustic Classics, and it has quickly become one of my favorite salads. What I love about this simple salad is that you can even toss in some grilled fish or steak to make it hearty or enjoy it on its own. The juicy tomatoes (especially when they’re heirloom) and watermelon make it a hydrating reprieve from the warm summer months. 

Find the full recipe here. 

 

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Caprese salad with basil

Looking for a classic caprese salad using the freshest ingredients possible? This is the salad for you! Sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella make this one of the best salad recipes out there, but it doesn’t stop there. The real highlight is the homemade Basil Vinaigrette! With just a couple fresh herbs, oil, and vinegar, you’ll have a dressing so good, you might find yourself wanting to use it on everything!

Find the full recipe here.

 

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

When it comes to eating leafy green salads on a hot summer day, I can’t forget to mention Deb Perelman’s Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans from her Smitten Kitchen cookbook. It features a bed of raw kale, creamy goat cheese, some tart dried cherries, crunchy pecans and paper-thin slivers of radish. Not only is it super healthy, but every bite is packed with a texture and sweetness, and that makes this crunchy salad perfect for summer picnics!

Find the full recipe here. 

 

Seared Salmon Salad with Baked Crispy Chickpeas & Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette

salmon salad lunch veggie

I got to do a great segment for The List all about the popular MIND Diet, which aims to improve brain function and prevent dementia, and one of the recipes I created for this segment was my Seared Salmon Salad, which also makes for an amazing summer salad! And what’s great is that it’s one you can play around with. In fact, you can make your base with any dark leafy greens, like arugula, kale or baby spinach, and then add in your favorite fresh vegetables.

The crispy chickpeas are SO easy to make and they give this salad a great crunch. The homemade strawberry vinaigrette is also a snap and adds a beautiful, light sweetness to top it off. This one actually became a go-to salad for me, and you may find that’s the case for you as well!

Find the full recipe here. 

 

Bonus: Lychees, Longan, Rambutan!

Lychee, Longan, Rambutan!

We’re not done yet! If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, or maybe just something beyond the classic salad, you’re going to love this beautiful Asian tropical fruit salad with a pineapple “bowl”. It features canned longan, lychee, and rambutan, as well as some tropical fresh fruits. My favorite canned fruits are the Asian variety, and when they’re mixed with other tropical sweet fruits like mangoes, kiwi and pineapple, it’s like enjoying a large bowl of love on a summer day. If you’re like me, and not a fan of overly sweet baked desserts, this is the best way to end a summer dinner in a light, refreshing way.

Find the full recipe here. 

 

What’s Your Favorite Summer Salad?

Got a favorite from this list? Or maybe one you already make at home? We want to hear all about it! Let us know you favorite summer salad in the comments below!

As always, we hope you enjoyed this recipe roundup, and we wish you a great summer! Stay cool, stay hydrated, take care, and stay healthy, Steamy Fam. 

 

$100 Grocery Gift Card Giveaway

Would you like an extra $100 in cash to buy your favorite summer salad ingredients? Enter this week’s $100 Grocery Gift Card to win!

 

4 Comments

  1. Pasta salad loaded

    Reply
  2. I love tomatoes and onion salad.

    Reply
  3. My favorite summer salad is BLT salad.

    Reply
  4. OK! Yes, A bag of groceries!

    Reply

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Jaden Rae
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I'm Jaden Rae, a TV chef, cookbook author, recipe developer, and the creative force behind Steamy Kitchen, a 19-year food blog focused on Asian cuisine and mindful living. Steamy Kitchen has been featured on The List, the Today Show, Oprah.com, Martha Stewart Living Radio & more.

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