Endless Summer Salad recipes
Lazy long days call for easy, delicious meals that we can mix up and make on repeat—enter Summer Salad Recipes. Less of a recipe, think of Summer Salad as a template to mix and match a substantial salad that’s cool and refreshing, but that also has enough “legs” to sustain you as a meal. This is ultimate in back-pocket recipes. You’ll make it your own.
Summer Salad recipes: they’re elementary
In order to keep things interesting (even during the lazy days, we want a little variety), mix and match from certain elements. I mean, sure we all have our favorites (the example “recipe” is for a Greek-ish version that I make a lot. I’m also really into a tabouleh-ish version), but having taking an elements-based approach gives you endless Summer Salad recipes.
Thinking elements means that you can stock up on staples and then use whatever we have on hand or looked good at the farmers’ market. And the options I list below are by no means the only ones. Go ye bananas with Summer Salad recipes!
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Summer Salad recipes: the elements
The following elements give you endless possibilities for Summer Salad recipes.
A grain base makes the salad more substantial and filling. Use more or less depending on how you’re planning to serve the salad.
Pearled couscous, orzo, farro, bulgur wheat, couscous, rice noodles, etc. are all perfect.
Prepare your grain base a bit before you make the salad so that it’s cool (you might want to add a bit of feta or something, if using, before it cools, but that’s all you). Add a little olive oil to keep things from getting all sticky.
If we’re serving Summer Salad as lunch, it needs to have a bit of heft. If you’re serving your Summer Salad as a side, then you may choose to omit.
Think cheese (feta is my favorite), boiled eggs, canned beans, maybe even some nuts or tinned fish? Of course, leftovers can go here, too!
Summer Salad needs crunch!
Cucumbers (seed these, generally, to avoid too much water getting in), grated carrots, celery, crisp green beans, shredded fennel (save those fronds!), the list goes on.
To me, Summer Salad recipes almost always need tomatoes. Maybe some grapes, if you’re doing something creative.
Add a little something from the allium family to give your salad some bite.
Think Chives (my favorite in the summer), scallions, shallots, red onion, maybe a little garlic.
Fresh herbs make Summer Salad, but you can use dried if you’re out of something. Lemon zest is also a great element.
Mince and chop some flat-leaf parsley, mint, oregano (Greek is best), basil, dill, whatever you got that sounds good.
Turn up the flavor with one or more of these goodies.
Olives, capers, cornichons, sundried tomatoes, dried fruit, allspice (for Middle-Eastern inspired dishes) are just some of the ideas.
Tie your Summer Salad recipes together with acid.
Lemon juice (personal fav), wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, etc.
Really, the answer here is olive oil, but a nut oil could work nicely in some variations of Summer Salad.
And, of course, salt. Sometimes pepper, but definitely salt.
You’ll note I didn’t say greens
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention greens in these. That’s intentional. These are meant to be fixed and chilled and eaten over the course of a few days. By all means, serve them over greens, tossed with greens, salad green adjacent. But don’t add the greens to your salad until you’re ready to eat it.
Endless Summer Salad recipes: the Greek-ish version
I make a Greek-ish Summer Salad on the regular. I use pearled couscous (I said it was Greek-ish), feta cheese, lots of cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, parsley, scallions (or chives, or whatever I have on hand), lemon zest, and Greek oregano (all I had was dried today, alas). I dress it with lemon juice and olive oil, and then add a little salt.
It’s refreshing and delicious, and the couscous and the feta give it enough of a base that, on a hot day, I’m not starving an hour later, especially if a few other nibbles were part of my plate. I share the “recipe” for Greek-ish Summer Salad below.
What will you make? Let me know in the comments!
Summer Salad: The Greek-ish Version
- ½ cup pearled couscous, cooked in salted water with a bit of olive oil, and cooled for added flavor, toast the couscous a bit before adding the water, oil, and salt. You might want to add a bit more oil to the couscous to keep it from clumping as it cools. You might also add a bit of the feta
- 2 mini seedless cucumbers, chopped I use more than one, but less than two in this. Save the rest for snacking
- 1 small tomato, cored, mostly seeded, and chopped the leftover juice is really good on a bit of toasted bread with salt, Basque style
- 2 scallions, finely chopped minced shallots, chives, or red onion all fine
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- oregano leaves (preferably Greek), chopped to taste. Substitute a bit of dried if you don't have fresh oregano on hand
- Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped to taste
- feta cheese, crumbled to taste
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced to taste
- olive oil as needed
- kosher salt to taste
- Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Mix to combine and adjust as needed. It's best if you can refrigerate this for a bit, but not strictly required. It is summer, after all!