Summer salads are a refreshing way to showcase seasonal produce and add variety to warm-weather meals. With peak season fruits and veggies, salads go from boring diet food to delicious anytime dishes. According to a 2022 survey, an average American enjoys four salads every week, with a whopping 62% saying this dish is a regular part of their diet.
The survey also revealed some preferences for the perfect salad. Most respondents (78%) prefer chopped salad, 60% enjoy it tossed with dressing, and 58% opt for it as a side dish. Interestingly, 51% said they like their salad “loaded” with all sorts of toppings. This includes favorites like fruit, which was preferred by 57%, and roasted vegetables, chosen by 52%. Given this wide range of preferences, the room for experimentation when it comes to crafting summer salads is virtually limitless.
You can easily jazz up a summer salad by mixing fruits, nuts, and proteins or swapping out lettuce for grains. Those who relish variety in their salads will love these inventive approaches. Here is a list of 15 exciting salad ideas that will ensure no taste bud is ever left feeling bored.
1. Watermelon Feta Salad
Watermelon and feta cheese are a match made in salad heaven. The sweet juiciness of watermelon pairs perfectly with the briny, salty feta. This combo makes a great summer salad for backyard BBQs or picnics. Toss cubed watermelon, crumbled feta, fresh mint, and red onion with balsamic vinaigrette. The tangy sweet dressing brings all the flavors together.
2. Layered salad
This super easy 7 layer salad is a potluck staple for a reason – it’s loaded with flavor and color and is so easy to make. Simply layer ingredients in a glass dish: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cheese, bacon, and chickpeas. Top with your favorite dressing and refrigerate until chilled. The veggies soak up the dressing as it chills, yielding maximum flavor. Mix it all together before serving this fresh and crunchy salad.
3. Mango Avocado Salad with Shrimp
Take your salad to the tropics with fresh mango, avocado, and shrimp. Dice mango and avocado and mix with cooked shrimp, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The sweet mango and creamy avocado pair perfectly with tender shrimp. Garnish with toasted coconut for some crunch. This salad transports you to the islands in one bite.
4. Caprese Farro Salad
For a fresh take on this classic Italian salad, use farro instead of lettuce. Cooked farro tossed with juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar makes a satisfying summer meal. Farro adds a hearty nuttiness that pairs perfectly with the bright tomatoes and cheese.
5. Greek Salad Lettuce Wraps
Ditch the bowl and serve this flavorful salad in lettuce wraps. Fill leaves of romaine or butter lettuce with diced cucumber, tomato, red onion, olives, feta, and Greek dressing. The fresh lettuce cups add a fun, interactive element to this traditional Greek salad. Kids will love assembling their own wraps.
6. Cobb Salad Mason Jar
Pack your next picnic or work lunch in a mason jar Cobb salad. Layer chopped romaine, chicken, bacon, egg, tomato, avocado, blue cheese, and dressing in a jar. When ready to eat, shake the jar to mix everything. You get the classic Cobb flavors in a convenient, portable package.
7. BLT Pasta Salad
For a fun twist on a classic sandwich, turn it into a pasta salad. Toss penne or rotini with crispy bacon pieces, halved cherry tomatoes, shredded romaine, and creamy ranch dressing. Top with shredded cheddar or parmesan for extra richness. This hearty salad is perfect for potlucks or as a side at your next cookout.
8. Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
Grilled lettuce adds a smoky depth to this classic salad. Halve heads of romaine and drizzle with olive oil. Grill over medium heat until lightly charred. Top with croutons, parmesan, and creamy Caesar dressing. The charred lettuce gives a wonderfully smoky flavor to this summery twist on Caesar salad.
9. Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes
Jazz up a chicken salad with the addition of curry powder and seedless grapes. Mix shredded chicken, halved grapes, celery, curry powder, lemon juice, and mayo. The sweet grapes and aromatic curry add exciting new flavors to traditional chicken salad. Serve on croissants or over greens.
10. Caprese Pasta Salad
Bring this simple Italian salad to life with pasta. Toss together mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, cooked pasta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. The pasta soaks up the delicious dressing and turns this into a hearty meal. Rotini or farfalle work nicely for grabbing the tomatoes and cheese.
11. Mexican Street Corn Salad
Capture the flavors of popular Mexican street corn in a salad. Mix charred corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, lime juice, and chili powder. For extra creaminess, add mayo or Mexican crema. Top with crunchy pepitas for texture. This salad is spicy, sweet, and tangy.
12. Spinach Salad with Berries and Goat Cheese
Sweet, juicy berries complement the tangy goat cheese in this colorful salad. Toss baby spinach with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and poppyseed dressing. The variety of textures and flavors makes this salad shine.
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13. Kale and Quinoa Tabbouleh
For a nutrition boost, use kale instead of parsley in tabbouleh. Toss quinoa with chopped kale, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, and lemon vinaigrette. The quinoa adds protein, while kale gives a mega dose of vitamins. This fresh twist adds both nutrients and crunch.
14. Fried Chicken Salad with Ranch
Crispy, fried chicken tenders transform this salad into a meal. Toss fried chicken with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and ranch dressing. The hot chicken contrasts the cool lettuce and cheese for the ultimate, savory salad.
15. Summer Harvest Salad with Grilled Halloumi
Grilled halloumi cheese adds a smoky, meaty element to this seasonal salad. Toss grilled halloumi, summer veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, corn, fresh herbs, and lemon vinaigrette. The halloumi provides a satisfying heft and texture contrast to the produce.
Summer salads provide endless possibilities to experiment with flavors, textures, and ingredients. Fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins can all combine into tasty, unique salads. Dressings, mix-ins, and swapping lettuce for grains or wraps add exciting twists. With so many ways to jazz up your summer salads, you’ll never get bored. Think outside the bowl this season and whip up one of these 15 fun and innovative salads. Your tastebuds will thank you.