I’m constantly inspired by the local seasonal ingredients around us to create fun, fresh salads to keep lunches interesting and add a cool component to dinners. Try some of our favorite salads we’ve been loving this summer. Most of these recipes are built for 2 4 people as a side or entree salad. Adjust your ingredients if you’re feeding a crowd.
Summer Squash Salad
I’d be remiss if I didn’t kick off the list with our favorite summer salad, with summer squash taking center stage. It made its debut here a few years ago. It’s crunchy, herbacious and satisfying. Try slicing the squash into ribbons for a fun twist but sliced thinly is superb. Click here for the recipe.
Farmer’s Market Power Salad
It’s lettuce season. It’s corn season. It’s blueberry season. It’s squash season. It’s cucumber season. One visit to the farmer’s market and you’re on your way to this banging power salad. Simply add cooked quinoa and your favorite dressing. This month, I was gifted Oleamea Olive Oil so I used that. It’s organic extra virgin olive oil sourced from Aydin, Turkey, and I have to say, I’m impressed. It’s fruity and clean and the Everyday Extra Virgin used here made a perfect Shallot Vinaigrette. The premium Extra Virgin will be beautiful on caprese and with fresh bread. Typically, this salad would include freshly chucked corn in its raw form, but feel free to use cooked. I had leftover skillet cooked corn so I simply used what I had. But, raw corn on a salad? 100% yes do it. With the squash salad above? That too.
Salad greens (I used arugula, mâche and tender romaine here)
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup RAW corn or cooked if you prefer
1/2 zucchini quartered
1/2 cucumber quartered
1/2-1 cup cooked quinoa
Place greens and other ingredients in a large bowl
1/2 shallot chopped
1 clove garlic grated
1/4 cup vinegar (champagne or white wine is great here)
Juice of half lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Oleamea)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together, adding lemon juice, s/p to desired taste.
Disclaimer: After being contacted by their representatives, I was gifted a set of Oleamea Extra Virgin Olive Oil to give honest feedback as well as taste test for our Holiday Gift Guide. You can find Oleamea at The Fresh Market in North Carolina or online.
Triadfoodies House Side Salad aka Greens & Parm
If you’re fortunate enough to find some locally grown mâche in your area when its in season, I highly recommend adding them to your salad rotation. Great alone or combined with other salad greens, mâche (this from Daffodil Spring Farm in Valle Crucis) comes in these pretty rosettes and are a bit nutty, like watercress or arugula without the peppery bite. They complement every salad I’ve had them in. This salad, with any green or combo of greens I have on hand, is our go-to with entrees all year long, especially with pasta. But in the summer, you know we’re adding tomatoes. The two ingredient dressing is a must-try. You don’t even need a bowl…just drizzle oil & vinegar style. Super simple!
Seasonal greens like mache, spinach, butter lettuce, romaine
Cherry Tomatoes, halved, optional
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino, shaved or grated
1/8 cup white balsamic dressing (I like Batistini Farms)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
You can simply drizzle the vin and EVOO over the greens adding more of either when necessary. Finish with s/p and cheese.
Everyday Cucumber and Tomatoes Salad
Inspired by Chef Vivian Howard and her cookbook, Deep Run Roots, this memory triggering salad reminds me of dinners at my Grandma’s. The cookbook re-introduced this perfect salad to me and provided the ratios too. Enjoy the colors and crispness with BBQ, ribs, burgers, fried chicken or really any dish. It adds the perfect amount of acid and freshness to your meal. And as she states in DRR, the recipe is highly adaptable for adding all kinds of seasonal freshness, from watermelon to corn to blueberries and peaches. You can add a boiled egg and call it brunch and I’ve happily done so.
1 tomato quartered or cherry tomatoes (use ends from a tomato sandwich..no waste!)
1 cucumber, halved
1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
Per Howard’s book, combine the cucumber and onion with the sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Allow to marry for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and vinegar and allow to mingle again for another 20 minutes to four hours. Best served at room temperature.
Speaking of cucumbers and salad….
Everyday Cucumber Salad
Here’s another version of a cucumber salad, taking notes from Chef Howard’s recipe but adding some garlic with options of changing up the dressing for a different flavor profile. Note: Add sesame oil and rice wine vinegar in place of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and you have the perfect dressing for an asian inspired cuke salad. Add a chili flavored oil with white balsamic or sherry vinegar for some heat and pair with seafood. Persian, Piccolino or English cucumbers are best here but use what you’ve got. Feel free to add mâche, watercress, avocado or onions here for even more flavor, but they are not necessary, because…well it’s a cucumber salad.
1-2 Cucumbers halved
1/4 cup balsamic dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
salt/pepper to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over cukes and give them a toss. It’s okay to do this a little while before you eat as the cukes have time to quick pickle in the dressing.
Asian Cabbage Salad w/ Ginger Dressing
Okay, so this stunner with all the colors of summer is absolutely simple to make. You can use any number of veggies here. Mr. foodie doesn’t love cucumber (lol that this post has several salads with cukes) so I didn’t add it here, but cukes would be delicious and I might say necessary. As for the dressing, you can make your own as I provide a recipe here, but I will offer no judgement if you use a favorite brand from the store. Been there. Done that. Makoto forever! And Little Black Dressing Co. too.
1/2 purple Napa cabbage, shredded thinly
1/4 head Romaine lettuce, shredded thinly
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1 bell pepper sliced thinly
Red onion, carrots, cukes optional
2 tbs. fresh ginger, grated (jarred is okay ..it really is)
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sesame oil (or combo of sesame and neutral oil)
1 -2 tsp. sugar or honey to taste
sesame seeds (optional)
Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except oil, sugar and seeds and whisk. Slowly add the sesame oil, tasting as you go. If you like it less sesame-y, begin adding the neutral oil like olive oil. Sweeten to taste. Add sesame seeds if desired.
Toss the salad and pour dressing over. Serve immediately.
Summertime Pasta & Corn Salad
Who doesn’t love a pasta salad with a light, yet creamy dressing? This herby salad has it all. Better still, you can make your own creamy dressing (think Greek yogurt, cilantro or other herbs, lime, s/p) or just use your favorite ranch. I used a Sriracha Ranch from a local restaurant, F.A.R.M Cafe in Boone. The dressing from the squash salad above would be fab with this. The salad is terrific the next day.
1 lb cooked pasta (I used trottole, but any spiral or shaped pasta will do)
1 cup cooked fresh corn (the sweeter the better)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh cilantro
Handful fresh chives (optional)
Salt/pepper to taste
Your favorite creamy dressing.
Cook pasta, drain, add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and toss. Pour enough over to cover well but not drench. You can always add more, right? Toss and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy these summery salads. Any one would be great with the addition of some protein to turn it into more of an entree. If you try them let me know!