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10 Summer Salads Perfect for a Light Lunch Or Dinner

Food

July 03, 2023

When the temperature rises, there's nothing quite like a refreshing salad to cool us down and nourish our bodies. Whether you're looking for a light lunch to enjoy on a sunny patio or a wholesome dinner option that won't weigh you down, I've got you covered. In this article, we'll explore ten delicious summer salads that are bursting with seasonal flavors, colors, and textures.

From crisp greens to juicy fruits and hearty grains, these salads are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. So, grab your fork and get ready to indulge in these mouthwatering creations that are sure to elevate your summer dining experience.

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Fresh Peach Salad

Bursting with vibrant flavors, this salad combines juicy slices of fresh peaches with crisp greens, tangy goat cheese crumbles, and a sprinkling of crunchy toasted almonds. Drizzled with a light and refreshing citrus vinaigrette, this salad is a perfect balance of flavors and textures. The natural sweetness of the peaches pairs beautifully with the creamy goat cheese, while the almonds add a satisfying crunch.

Making this peach salad recipe is actually pretty easy! If you want to be extra and go as far as to make the vinaigrette dressing homemade, just start by whisking together balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil one tablespoon at a time until a creamy emulsion forms.

Ingredients:

  • Ripe peaches
  • Toasted almonds
  • Mixed greens
  • Red onion
  • Canned/Grilled corn
  • Goat cheese or feta cheese
  • Balsamic vinaigrette

Tips: How to ripen peaches?

Place the peaches in a paper bag. Add a banana inside the bag. The banana emits ethylene gas, which helps the peaches ripen at the same time.

Gently close the top of the bag. This traps the gasses inside. Wait for 1 to 5 days, depending on the ripeness of the peaches. Check each day by gently squeezing the fruit to see if the flesh feels soft.

Variations

  • Cheese: Use feta crumbles, Parmesan shavings, sliced Manchego, or smoked gouda chunks
  • Nuts: Use chopped pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts
  • Corn: Omit, or use fresh corn cut off the cob or grilled corn
  • Onion: Omit or use shallot for a gentler flavor
  • Dressing: Try another tangy sweet dressing like Poppy Seed Dressing, Raspberry Vinaigrette, or Strawberry Vinaigrette

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Potato Salad

You can't go wrong with a classic potato salad, the staple of every barbecue/ outdoor event out there. It's a delightful combination of boiled potatoes, typically cut into bite-sized pieces mixed with a creamy dressing and an array of flavorful ingredients. The dressing can vary, from a tangy mayonnaise-based dressing to a lighter vinaigrette, allowing for versatility in taste and texture.

Additional ingredients often include crunchy celery, zesty onions, and fresh herbs like parsley or dill, adding layers of flavor and texture. With its creamy yet refreshing qualities, potato salad is a timeless favorite that brings comfort and satisfaction to any table.

Ingredients:

  • Yukon gold potatoes: the variety here is important! They have a lightly sweet flavor and keep their shape when boiled. Do not substitute red-skinned or russet potatoes!
  • White wine vinegar
  • Celery stalks
  • Green onions
  • Red onion
  • Fresh dill
  • Sweet pickle relish (or dill pickles)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
  • Yellow mustard and Dijon mustard
  • Celery seed

Directions:

  1. Quarter the potatoes, then place them in a pot of cold water. Leave the skins on. They'll come off easily later.
  2. Boil for 8 to 15 minutes, until fork tender.
  3. Drain and rinse them under cold water.
  4. Pop off the skins with your fingers, then dice.
  5. When they're cool enough to touch, the skins come off easily after boiling. Sprinkle the potatoes with vinegar and salt. This trick from Julia Child is also part of our French Potato Salad recipe. It infuses the potatoes with tangy flavor mixing them into the salad.
  6. Mix all salad ingredients together, then chill for 2 hours. This salad tastes great right away, but it's best when it's cold. See the recipe below for the ingredient list. If possible, refrigerate it for a few hours before serving.

Tips:

You can enhance the classic flavor of your potato salad by incorporating some tasty variations. For a touch of sweetness, sweet pickle relish is an excellent choice, but if you prefer a different twist, chopped dill pickles can intensify the savory notes in the salad. Instead of using only mayo for the dressing, consider combining it with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

This combination not only lightens the overall flavor but also adds a subtle tanginess. To bring even more complexity to the dish, try adding a little Dijon mustard alongside the traditional yellow mustard. Both options work wonders and can be easily found in most refrigerators. However, if you don't have Dijon mustard on hand, using 100% yellow mustard will still yield a delicious result. Feel free to experiment with these versatile ingredients to create your perfect potato salad flavor profile.

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Grilled Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Tender slices of perfectly grilled steak are served atop a bed of crisp lettuce, accompanied by an array of vibrant vegetables and tangy cherry tomatoes. But what truly takes this salad to the next level is the rich and creamy blue cheese dressing that coats every bite with its bold flavors. The combination of the juicy steak, fresh greens, and the decadent dressing creates a harmonious balance of textures and tastes that will leave you craving more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb skirt steak (or flat iron)
  • 2 romaine hearts, cut in half length-wise
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch rings, keeping rings intact
  • 2 avocados, cut in half, pit removed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 3 tbsp
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Blue cheese for garnishing

Blue Cheese Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients. Stir until completely combined and set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling. This will allow the meat to be brought to room temp.
  3. Heat your grill on high for 10 minutes.
  4. While the grill is heating, pat dry your meat dry with a paper towel and generously salt and pepper.
  5. Place your meat on the hot grill and allow it to cook without moving for 4 minutes. Turn and cook for 3-4 more minutes and remove. Allow resting under tented foil for 10 minutes.
  6. While your meat is resting, brush your lettuce, avocado, and onions with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place all the vegetables on the grill, oiled side down. Brush the opposite side with oil. Once the charring begins, the vegetables are ready to turn. (About 2-4 minutes). Turn the lettuce and onions over and remove the avocado. Continue cooking until the opposite side has some charring.
  8. While still warm, roughly chop the lettuce and slice the avocado. Then, separate the onion rings. On a large platter, arrange the lettuce, onions, avocado, halved tomatoes, and sliced steak. Drizzle dressing over the top and sprinkle with extra blue cheese and chives.

For Blue Cheese Dressing:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a bowl. The flavor will develop the longer it sits.

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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Packed with protein, fiber, and a variety of colorful vegetables, this salad is a nutritious and satisfying option for a light lunch or dinner. Tossed in a zesty lemon and herb dressing, the chickpeas are complemented by juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumber, tangy feta cheese, and briny Kalamata olives. The addition of fresh herbs like parsley and mint adds a burst of freshness to every bite.

Whether you're a vegetarian, a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, or simply looking for a delicious and healthy salad, this Mediterranean Chickpea Salad is sure to impress your taste buds. Enjoy the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean in every forkful of this delightful salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15-ounce cans) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley lemon vinaigrette, you can use as much or as little as you'd like

Instructions:

  1. Add.
  2. Toss all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

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Salmon Salad

This delightful and nutritious salad features tender flakes of grilled or baked salmon, perfectly complemented by a bed of crisp mixed greens, juicy cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, and creamy avocado. Topped with a tangy lemon-dill dressing, this refreshing salad is a true delight for seafood lovers. The rich omega-3 fatty acids in the salmon provide numerous health benefits while adding a flavorful punch to the dish.

Ingredients:

  • Salmon filets
  • Avocado oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Baby kale + romaine
  • Sweet potato croutons
  • Avocado
  • Pickled red onions
  • Feta
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Lemon vinaigrette dressing – A mixture of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup (or honey), oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. It's a light, fresh, and super easy dressing that pairs perfectly with the salmon!

Instructions:

  1. Make pickled red onions and the lemon vinaigrette dressing, and bake your sweet potato croutons.
  2. Season salmon filets with sea salt and ground pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet (a cast-iron works great) over medium-high heat. Place salmon in the pan, skin side up, for about 4 minutes or until the flesh is golden brown. Turn and cook until salmon is medium-rare, about 4 more minutes.
  3. In a salad bowl, toss greens with sweet potato croutons, pickled red onions, feta, and pumpkin seeds. Divide between 2 plates. Top salad with salmon and avocado. Then drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

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Vegan Mexican Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing

This salad features a colorful mix of crisp lettuce, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and creamy avocado. Tossed with a zesty avocado dressing made with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and garlic, this salad is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. It's a perfect choice for those seeking a healthy and satisfying plant-based meal option.

Ingredients:

  • Cherry tomatoes (red and yellow)
  • Bell peppers (red and green)
  • Grilled or canned corn
  • Black beans
  • Avocados
  • Red onions
  • Scallions

For the Dressing:

  • Avocado
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Grill your corn. (To do it on the griddle, simply heat a lug of olive oil over medium-high heat and grill the whole corn cob for 15 minutes, lid closed, turning every 5 minutes. You'll know it's perfect when the cob has black burn marks here and there, and the kernels are soft. You can check it by piercing the cob with a fork).
  2. Dice everything and arrange it in four bowls or plates, creating sections (or just toss it all together if you prefer).
  3. Add already boiled (or canned and rinsed) black beans and the broiled corn kernels and your dressing.

For the dressing:

  1. Pit and peel the avocado.
  2. Scoop it into a mixing bowl add chili powder, a pinch of cumin, salt, black pepper, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and water, and process with an immersion blender until smooth.

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Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

This summer salad is a perfect balance of flavors and textures, offering a burst of sweetness from the watermelon, a hint of saltiness from the feta, and a refreshing herbal note from the mint. The vibrant colors and refreshing taste make it a great addition to any summer gathering or as a light and healthy meal on its own. This salad is not only delicious but also hydrating, thanks to the high water content of the watermelon. It's a simple yet elegant dish that showcases the best of summer's bounty.

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-pound) seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1 1/2-inch chunk (10 cups), chilled
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

Instructions:

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco, and pepper.
  3. Add the watermelon, feta, olives, and onion; toss gently.
  4. Garnish with the mint and serve

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Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad

Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad is a delightful twist on the classic Caprese salad, featuring vibrant cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil leaves tossed with al dente pasta coated in a luscious pesto sauce. This salad is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, with the creamy mozzarella complementing the tangy tomatoes and the aromatic basil infusing every bite with its distinctive aroma.

The pesto sauce adds a burst of herbaceous and garlicky goodness, making this salad a true summer delight. It's a versatile dish that can be served as a refreshing side dish or a light main course, perfect for picnics, barbecues, or a simple weekday lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups rotini pasta
  • 3 tablespoons pesto, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • β…› teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup halved grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup small fresh mozzarella balls
  • 2 leaves fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook the rotini at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. Mix pesto, olive oil, salt, granulated garlic, and black pepper in a bowl; add rotini.
  3. Toss to coat. Fold in tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil.

via Foodiesfeed

Burrata Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic glaze, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 pt. multicolored grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 loosely packed arugula
  • 2 4-ounce balls burrata
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil, plus more to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the oil and garlic to a simmer.
  2. Cook, occasionally stirring, until the garlic is golden and the oil is fragrant about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. When cool enough to handle, slice the garlic and place it in a storage container.
  5. Pour the oil over the garlic.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine ¼ cup of garlic oil, balsamic glaze, salt, and pepper. Fold in the tomato and the shallot.
  7. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour to allow the tomatoes to marinate. Arrange the arugula on a serving platter.
  8. Top with the burrata. Drizzle the burrata and arugula with more garlic oil and balsamic glaze; sprinkle the burrata with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Fold the ¼ cup of chopped basil into the tomato mixture and spoon the mixture on top of the arugula and around the burrata. Garnish with more basil if you like.

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Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a delectable and satisfying dish that combines the rich flavors of crispy bacon, creamy ranch dressing, and al dente pasta. Packed with colorful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and crunchy bell peppers, this salad offers a refreshing and flavorful experience. Whether you're serving it as a side dish at a barbecue or enjoying it as a light lunch, Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is sure to impress with its delicious combination of textures and flavors.

  • 1 (12-ounce) package of uncooked tri-color rotini pasta
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons dry ranch salad dressing mix
  • ½ teaspoon garlic pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup milk, or as needed
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 (4.25 ounce) can of sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Gather ingredients.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook rotini at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain.
  3. Place bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until evenly brown.
  4. Drain and chop.
  5. Mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix, garlic pepper, and garlic powder together in a large bowl.
  6. Stir in milk until smooth.
  7. Place rotini, bacon, tomato, black olives, and cheese in a bowl and toss to coat with dressing.
  8. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  9. Toss with additional milk if the salad seems a little dry.

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There are a variety of refreshing salads to satisfy your tastes, whether you're vegan or just a huge carb lover! The best part is that these salads are not only delicious but also nourishing, providing you with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So, why not take advantage of the abundant produce of the season and indulge in these vibrant and wholesome creations?

If you are interested in learning about some grilling tips to elevate your meals, check out this article: A Beginner's Guide to Grilling: Tips for Enjoying a Summer Evening Outdoors

Williana Serve
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Williana is currently a sophomore in college. She likes to learn new things especially involving Law & Advocacy. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she can be found watching TikTok, YouTube, or reading.

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