Easy Summer Salads You’ll Want to Eat Every Day

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Engineering a salad is an art. There are so many elements at play: texture, color, flavor, and nutrition. But if you think of a salad as more than just a pile of greens, the possibilities are endless.

That’s why we’re bringing you four beautiful salads for summer that are as delicious as they are visually striking. They’ll keep you fueled and satisfied all day long.

Seasonal vegetables, crunchy nuts, and fresh herbs, all add to the nutritional profile of a salad. Seeds and nuts are packed with protein while vegetables provide a wide range of nutrients. The more colorful the salad, the more nutrients you’ll be getting in addition to vitamins.

The best part? None of these summer salad recipes require lettuce. You heard us—these are all lettuce-free salads perfect for summer barbeques! 

Thai Cabbage Salad with Crunchy Peanuts 

We’re starting with our favorite salad of the summer—Thai Cabbage Salad— it’s so good that you’ll be dreaming about it in your sleep. 

This crunchy salad is one of the most delicious ways to get cruciferous veggies into your body. Fast and easy, and it holds up in the fridge for a few days so you can make a big batch and eat it for days. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head napa cabbage
  • 1/3 head red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 thinly sliced red pepper
  • 1 thinly sliced orange pepper
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • ¼ Cup (or more to taste) chopped peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • scallions
  • optional; thinly sliced jalapeno

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • sesame seeds
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Make it:

Toss together shredded napa and red cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, chopped cilantro, and scallions. Pour whisked dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with chopped peanuts and garnish with more cilantro. Enjoy!

Crunchy Summer Broccoli Salad 

This summery salad gets plenty of texture from crisp broccoli florets, crunchy seeds, and sweet dried fruit. The creamy dressing adds a little extra protein but not a ton of calories because we whip it up using plain, nonfat Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. 

You can add any chopped bacon of your choice—real bacon, turkey bacon, vegan bacon— to add a delicious smoky flavor. 

We like to blanch our broccoli florets for about 20 seconds just to get them bright green and beautiful. Blanching also helps the nutrients in the broccoli to become more accessible to your body during digestion. 

Let’s build a crunchy broccoli salad:

Ingredients:

  • broccoli florets 
  • snap peas
  • red onion
  • turkey bacon (or bacon of your choice)
  • dried cherries or cranberries (or your favorite dried fruit)
  • sunflower seeds or chopped nuts for crunch
  • your favorite cubed or shredded cheese

Simple Dressing:

  • ¾ cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or to desired taste
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Make it: 

Toss the raw or blanched broccoli, red onion, snap peas, bacon, cheese, and seeds or nuts together in a bowl. Add your dried fruit last and toss everything together one more time. Make your dressing in a separate bowl, then pour it over your salad. 

We like to add our dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake it up as an alternative to whisking it in a bowl. The clean up is easier and you can control the amount of dressing you prefer, then store the rest right in the jar to use for another yummy salad.   

Easy Greek Summer Salad with Sweet Corn

Easy Summer Salads

Sweet corn, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumber, and red onions come together for this simple yet flavorful salad. 

This 10-minute salad is the perfect weeknight dinner or side dish.

Build an easy greek salad:

Ingredients:

  • 1 english cucumber
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup chopped kalamata olives
  • ½ thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 ear of sweet corn

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup part extra–virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • Oregano to taste
  • sea salt & pepper to taste 

Make it:

Chop and toss english cucumbers, kalamata olives, and red onion. Cut fresh sweet corn from the cob or you can use defrosted fire-roasted or sweet corn from the freezer, and sprinkle on top. Add crumbled feta and toss.

Whisk dressing together and pour on top, tossing to coat the entire salad. We like to build our Greek salad in a container that has a lid so we can shake it up once we’ve added the dressing to completely incorporate the dressing to the salad. 

This salad is a summer necessity and stays perfectly crunchy for a day at the beach. Eat it as is for lunch, as a delicious side dish, or over a bed of romaine with a piece of grilled chicken for dinner.  

Rainbow Pasta Salad

This simple pasta salad is packed with flavor from fresh herbs, crunchy veggies, and a tangy vinaigrette. The rainbow color is an instant attention-getter, making it perfect to bring to a summer barbeque, party, or picnic. Rainbow pasta salad is actually better the next day after the herbs have had a chance to infuse the salad so it’s a great dish to make ahead of time. 

You can substitute the rainbow pasta for any other kind of pasta you like, or even spiralized vegetables would work well in this salad. Have fun experimenting with different types of pasta and veggies!

This pasta salad is a pretty filling salad, packs in tons of nutrients, and has a good balance of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. It’s not necessary to measure ingredients for this simple pasta salad, just eyeball how many veggies you want depending on how big of a batch you are making, and dress it adequately.  

Building a rainbow pasta salad:

Ingredients:

  • cooked rainbow pasta (we love rainbow bowties or rainbow rigatoni for our pasta salad)
  • cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • black olives (quartered)
  • sliced green onion
  • chopped red and green bell pepper 
  • diced red onion

Dressing: 

  • 2 parts extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 part of either apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • teaspoon yellow mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with one or two of your favorite chopped fresh herbs like:

  • parsley
  • basil
  • dill
  • mint
  • cilantro

Make it:

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Whisk up your dressing and pour it over your delicious salad, tossing to coat the entire salad. 

Refrigerate for 2 hours to give time for the flavors to meld. As we mentioned above, this salad is actually better the next day after the herbs have had a chance to infuse the salad.

The truth is, you don’t need a recipe to create great salads this summer. Choose fresh, bright produce, throw in some fresh herbs, whip up a yummy vinergerate, and toss it all together. 

Whether you’re making salad for a side dish or for a meal, there are endless possibilities to create big-bowl salads that are bright, crunchy, nutritious, and delicious!  

Delicious Salad Ingredient Ideas to Build Your Perfect Summer Salad:

  • Creamy burrata, blue cheese, and goat cheese are rich enough to pair with a robust homemade vinaigrette. 
  • Firm cubes of avocado tossed in a fresh lime, parsley and dill dressing for an easy and satisfying avocado salad. 
  • Toasted pine nuts, cubed cheese, and ripe tomatoes drizzled in a garlicky olive oil dressing makes a quick and easy simple salad.
  • Fire-roasted corn tossed with diced bell peppers, diced red onion, and jalapenos, dressed with a simple lime and extra-virgin olive oil dressing makes the perfect grilled corn salad. 

Get creative, keep it simple, and go for it! 

If you’re looking for a new apartment with a beautiful kitchen to whip up your favorite summer salads, check out DC Apartments to see our available apartments for lease.

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