Come summer, you become a total socialite. Between pool parties, vacations, and barbecues, your weekends are fully booked until September. And with your packed schedule and outdoor MO, there’s really no time to spend hours slaving over a hot stove.
Fear not — you can always throw together a salad … and yes, we know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a #sadsalad.
We’ve got a tantalizing list of cool lettuce wonders bursting with flavorful summer produce. They’re also well-rounded with healthy proteins and fats, so you can still enjoy an ice cream now and again this season guilt-free. Pack them up for a quick lunch, or bring the whole bowl to any picnic or party. These recipes are too good not to share!
Grilled Steak Mango Salad with Avocado Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
This salad won’t leave you hungry or feeling dissatisfied. Made with steak and a flavorful avocado dressing, it’s full of protein and healthy fats. If you like mango avocado salsa (who doesn’t?) you’ll love the combination of the mango and the avocado buttermilk ranch dressing. Grill up the steak or take advantage of leftovers to save time. Get the recipe!
Black Bean Fiesta Mason Jar Salad
No meal plan is complete without grab-and-go Mason jar salads like this one. Layers of beans, quinoa, and vegetables keep the greens crisp until you’re ready to shake it up and dig in. The lime jalapeño dressing has a bit of a kick to keep your salads interesting and feeling fresh. We highly recommend prepping all of your ingredients and making a few jars at a time so you have lunch ready to go for the whole week. Get the recipe!
Deconstructed Pesto Couscous Salad
Who said a salad had to have greens? Perfectly chewy couscous and thin ribbons of zucchini combine to make this bright, Mediterranean-inspired dish. The whole recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and it can be eaten hot or cold. Even better: You don’t have to make pesto.
Simply put all of the base ingredients into your bowl and let each bite do the mixing for you. Get the recipe!
Grilled Zucchini Salad
You just can’t beat the flavor of summer squash, especially when grilled. This salad is loaded with healthy summer veggies like purple cabbage, sprouts, and corn. Chickpeas and a creamy sunflower seed dressing top off this vegan, gluten-free meal. Pro tip: This salad is an excellent vegetarian- and allergy-friendly dish to bring to your next summer cookout. Get the recipe!
Herbed Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
This versatile quinoa salad easily goes from side dish to dinner without missing a beat. Quinoa, chickpeas, and toasted pepitas add a punch of plant-based protein. Make it ahead for a party and the salad will taste even better than when you put in the fridge.
You can also toss in your favorite vegetables — we recommend ripe cherry tomatoes, carrots, or avocado — to change it up. The dressing is so good you might want to double it and save the extra to use on salads or sandwiches throughout the week. Get the recipe!
Sunshine Turmeric Potato Salad
There seems to be some unspoken rule that potato salad must be present at every summer gathering — and we’re certainly not complaining! This salad is a far cry from your aunt’s mayonnaise-drenched potatoes. Inflammation-busting turmeric brings heat and color to this nontraditional dish. Get the recipe!
Shaved Summer Squash Salad
Hello summer no-cook zoodles. The last thing you want to do when it’s boiling outside is stand over the stove or turn on the oven. Stay cool — and hydrated! — with this raw summer squash salad. Simply use a vegetable peeler to turn your squash into thin ribbons. Top with basil, nuts, or seeds. The easy homemade dressing is made with lemon juice, fish sauce, and jalapeño. Get the recipe!
Poached Salmon Salad
You won’t have any trouble getting the American Heart Association’s recommended two servings of fatty fish a week with this salad. Salmon transforms this summer veggie salad into a heart-healthy meal complete with magnesium and vitamins D, B-6, and B-12. Get the recipe!
Succotash with Fresh Corn, Lentils, and Blueberries
It’s just not summer without succotash. This healthy lentil and corn salad pulls some serious double duty. Top a bowl of it with a fried egg for breakfast, add it to pasta, fill up lettuce cups, or dig into it on its own. Lentils pack an impressive amount of protein this into tangy-sweet salad. We won’t tell if you skip the mains and dig into this instead. Get the recipe!
Vegetarian Summer Pasta Salad
Update the classic pasta salad with this recipe. Green beans, potatoes, and radishes add color and crunch while the five-ingredient dressing replaces that mysteriously sweet dressing of your childhood. This salad is even better the second day when the flavors have had time to develop in the fridge. Get the recipe!
Tequila Shrimp Taco Salad
Tequila! This is no boring taco bowl or sad desk lunch salad. The tequila, lime, and chili powder marinade add unbelievable flavor to the shrimp. The rest of the bowl is loaded with fresh greens, tortilla pieces, radishes, cherry tomatoes, avocado, corn, and cheese to create a truly satisfying meal. Get the recipe!
Summer salads are the perfect antidote to busy days, long nights, and fully-loaded cotton-candy-wrapped ice cream cones. From make-ahead meals to easy bites for entertaining, these salads make it easy to eat well all season long without much effort.
Mandy Ferreira is a writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s passionate about health, fitness, and sustainable living. She’s currently obsessed with running, Olympic lifting, and yoga, but she also swims, cycles, and does just about everything else she can. You can keep up with her on her blog (treading-lightly.com) and on Twitter (@mandyfer1).