6 Simple-Yet-Spectacular Summer Salad Recipes

Fast, fresh, and flavorful salads for meals on the fly.

11 min read
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Warm weather calls for avoiding your oven at all costs. Salads are a great way to keep your kitchen cool while also making sure you get the veggies you need for a healthy lifestyle. Read on for simple salads from notable cooks and chefs that will help you boost your daily fruit and veg intake in easy and delicious ways.

Cooking with Amy’s Broccoli Crunch Salad

Why we love it: Amy Sherman is the writer behind the food blog Cooking with Amy, as well as a cookbook author and the editor of books such as “The Cheese Professor,” “The Alcohol Professor,” and the soon-to-be-launched “Olive Oil Professor.” Sherman’s texture-forward recipe features easy-to-find, healthy ingredients.

Why she loves it: Sherman says, “This satisfying vegetable salad is loaded with fruits and nuts. It makes a great potluck dish since it won’t wilt like lettuce-based salads.”

How to make it: In a large bowl, combine 1 pound of bite-sized broccoli florets (blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, shocked in ice water, drained, and dried), ⅓ cup of dried cranberries, ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds, ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, and 2 tangerines or mandarins (peeled, seeded, segmented, and cut in half). In a separate bowl, make the dressing. Mash 2 anchovies or 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste, add in 2 tablespoons of minced chives, 2 tablespoons of minced parsley, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, ⅓ cup of mayonnaise, and ¼ cup of sour cream. Mix and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add to the large bowl with the salad and mix well.

Chef Kathy Fang’s Berrylicious Salad

Why we love it: Kathy Fang, chef and co-owner of the legendary San Francisco Chinese restaurant Fang, is also the star of her own Food Network docuseries, “Chef Dynasty: House of Fang.” In this recipe, Fang combines store-bought staples, ready-made rotisserie chicken, and a berry-forward dressing to create a bright, fruity salad that comes together in just a few minutes. 

Why she loves it: Fang says, “My berrylicious salad is the perfect summer meal, and great for the whole family to enjoy. It’s such a well-rounded, nutritious salad filled with vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.”

How to make it: In a bowl, combine 2 cups of sliced Persian cucumbers, 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, 3 cups hand-torn rotisserie chicken (skin removed), 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup corn (canned or fresh), and 1/4 cup minced green onions. In another bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons raspberry jam, 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon agave syrup, and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss the dressing well with the salad mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Creative Culinary’s Iceberg Wedge Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

Why we love it: Barb Kiebel has been writing about food and drink on her blog, Creative Culinary, for more than a decade. Her version of a classic steakhouse wedge is a terrific complement to whatever you're grilling this summer. It comes together quickly with just a few ingredients and it can be a meal in and of itself.

Why she loves it: Kiebel says, “After years of eating trendy salads with specialty lettuces, nothing is more satisfying than this ice-cold, crispy wedge salad.”

How to make it: Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into 8 wedges and set aside. In a bowl, blend ½ cup buttermilk, ½ cup sour cream, ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, chive, parsley, or dill), 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best but bottled works, too), and 1 finely grated garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, in a heavy saute pan, fry 8 slices of bacon until crispy and charred on the edges. Drain on paper towels and crumble when cool. In the same pan, toss 1 cup of country-style bread pieces (crust removed) to coat in bacon drippings; saute 1-2 minutes. To assemble, place iceberg wedges on a plate. Drizzle with buttermilk dressing and sprinkle with bacon. Top with the grilled croutons and Gorgonzola crumbles.

Paul Zahn’s Watermelon Arugula Feta Salad

Why we love it: Los Angeles food and dining pro Paul Zahn is known for his expertise when it comes to entertaining at home, but he also knows how to keep things simple. His salad with watermelon, arugula, and feta is just that. This cooling staple of cookouts and picnics will help beat the heat of sweltering summer days.

Why he loves it: Zahn says, “One thing I love about this salad is it combines sweet and salty. The watermelon is refreshing and the peppery arugula really makes the salad pop. If you want to make this salad for a meal, just add some protein. Lemon pepper salmon is my go-to, but you could also grill some steak or chicken.”

How to make it: In a bowl, mix together half of a mini watermelon, cubed, 3 cups arugula, 1 cup of fresh blueberries, 1 cup of fresh mint leaves, and 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese. To make the dressing, combine 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Whisk in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix the dressing into the salad and top with ½ cup of pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).

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Chef Ed Hardy’s The Dark Side of Caesar

Why we love it: Chef Ed Hardy used to run one of Virginia’s favorite food trucks, Bacon N’ Eds, and he’s currently working on a book for the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, D.C. about food in science fiction. In this jazzed-up take on a Caesar salad, Hardy brings toasty, smoky flavors that’ll make you want to make this again and again. 

Why he loves it: Hardy says, “This is a simple twist on a Caesar. Traditional dressing gets blended with smoked paprika and a touch of hot sauce. Those grilled flavors are reinforced with smoky bacon and a toasted marble rye crouton.”

How to make it: Slice a large head of romaine lettuce lengthwise. Using a grill, or in a grill pan on the stove, place the romaine cut-side down and grill until lightly charred. Cool and tear into bite-sized pieces. Next, fry or bake 4 strips of thick-cut bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and cut into smaller strips. Mix 3 tablespoons of store-bought Caesar dressing (Cardini’s brand is one a popular brand) with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce; set aside. Rub 2 slices of marble rye with olive oil, cut into strips, and lightly toast in a saute pan; set aside. To assemble the salad, place the romaine on a plate, drizzle dressing on top, and sprinkle with bacon slices, croutons, and a few shavings of parmesan cheese. For a pop of color, garnish with thinly sliced red cabbage. 

Chef Nikki Meow’s Mystic Shawarma Salad with Crispy Chickpeas and Cauliflower

Why we love it: Chef Nikki Meow, also known as Nicole Andrea Guzman, runs the food blog Mystic Meals, and she also owns Mystic Seasonings, a purveyor of organic spice blends. In this salad, the combination of Middle Eastern flavors, store-bought hummus, canned chickpeas, and fresh veggies make for a dish that’s filling and delicious.

Why she loves it: “This salad is a healthy, flavorful way to utilize the zest of shawarma spices. It comes together in just about 30 minutes and any leftover chickpeas and cauliflower can be used in sandwiches, soups, or as a side. It’s a quick, easy, and versatile dish.”

How to make it: Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a skillet on medium heat. Mince and saute three cloves of garlic along with 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 6 ounces of fresh or frozen cauliflower florets, and two tablespoons of shawarma seasoning. Cook until the chickpeas and cauliflower start to crisp up and brown, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add ¼ cup sliced red onions. Mix ingredients together to slightly wilt the onions. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup of hummus or sour cream, 2 cloves minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and ¼ cup of minced parsley. Mix together until smooth. Add a bit of water to thin the dressing if needed, and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Assemble the salad by combining 6 ounces of your favorite lettuce, 1 sliced roma tomato, ¼ cup of thinly sliced red bell pepper, and ¼ cup sliced cucumber. Top with the chickpea and cauliflower mix. Drizzle with dressing to taste, and garnish with pita chips or tortilla chips. 

Photo Credits: Sarah Ceniceros