My Salad Formula + 14 Perfect Summer Salads

Summertime and salad go hand and hand, you know? I crave cold foods during the summer, I want crisp and light and flavorful! Gone are the days of salad being lame. A quick scour of the internet reveals that salads are filling and delicious, and pending your toppings, super healthy. On my best meal planning weeks, I’ll even prep some dressings and veggies ahead of time so that when I come home from the pool, I can easily throw a snack tray lunch on the table for the kids and have something filling and healthy for myself. Most of these are absolutely filling enough to serve for dinner. I have one kiddo that loves salad, but for the other two, I just serve it “deconstructed” — the ingredients separated out with the dressing on the side for dipping as desired.

Before I share some recipes, here is my salad formula that I feel is pretty tried and true when I don’t have a specific recipe:

Version one: greens (I like chopped kale, romaine, and arugula best) + protein (This is usually meat we have leftover from dinner or diced deli meat) and/or quinoa + fruit (strawberries, peaches, or blueberries during summer) + Nuts (sunflower seeds or toasted walnuts are my favorite) + goat cheese or feta or fresh mozzarella + olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper

Version Two: greens + protein and/or quinoa + veggies (diced cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, red onion, olives) + crispy chickpeas or croutons + parmesan cheese + homemade dijon vinaigrette or sensation salad dressing.

I’ve gotta say here that homemade dressing is infinitely better than store-bought, it’s really not difficult and lasts well to be used all week! You can’t go wrong with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper, either.

Here are three of my favorite dressings:

Lemon Maple Vinaigrette 

Dijon Vinaigrette 

Sensation Salad Dressing

And without further ado, my favorite summer salads:

Southwest Quinoa Salad 

This is one of my favorite summer salads and my go-to when bringing a dish to a summer gathering. It’s light yet still filling and has fresh, vibrant flavors. I like to use grilled corn instead of canned–or grab the roasted corn from the frozen section at Trader Joe’s.

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

Have you had this from CPK? It’s bright and fresh and delicious! A hack is to grab the frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe’s, obviously grilling your own would be superb.

Shauna Niequist’s Green Well Salad

This recipe is from one of my favorite books ever, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. This salad is absolutely delicious and the dressing is one I like to use on all sorts of salads!

Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Forgive me for posting a salad featuring an out-of-season vegetable, but we are lucky enough to eat sweet potatoes year-round, right? The dressing on this one is absolutely divine! 

Strawberry Crunch Salad

The combo of strawberries and feta says “summertime” to me!

Shauna’s Watermelon Feta Salad

Again, this fruit combination fits the season so well. And Shauna is the salad queen!

Tim Riggins Salad

I’ve shared this in a previous post about summer meals, but have to again! It is one of my favorites. 

Copycat Zoe’s Slaw

This slaw is zesty and perfect with grilled chicken. Add some hummus and pita and you’re set with a great meal. 

Burger Bowls

With a hearty amount of greens at the bottom, this counts as a salad! I prefer to use beef patties rather than ground beef for this recipe. That way you can also have buns for those who want them! 

Mexican Chopped Salad

This one is super flavorful and uses one of my favorite salad toppings: crispy chickpeas.

Potato Salad

Another great side dish for a summer BBQ! As an avid mayo hater, I love that this is vinegar-based. All the herbs really brighten it up. 

Greek Chicken Chopped Salad 

I love the flavors in this salad and I could drink the dressing!

Chopped Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad

This recipe is fresh and cool and crunchy. I love the Asian flavors and the delicious dressing.

Blackened Chicken Watermelon Salad

Ok, I haven’t actually made this yet, but when I saw the recipe, I immediately put it on my meal plan for next week. Looks incredible!



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