Top Five Summer Salads

Top Five Summer Salads


There’s something about the way temperature affects the body that makes certain cravings just burst forth from every pore. In the winter, visions of hot stews occupy the mind and nothing satiates the palate like a big hunk of grilled flesh.

Not so, however, in the summer. The air is warm and heavy, the colors are bright, and the body needs less of an intake because it isn’t constantly battling the elements of wind and ice to survive. Aside from (or perhaps in addition to) a cold, crisp beer, one element of summer cuisine is absolutely crucial: the summer salad. Wait! Don’t groan. Because one thing about the salad is that it has a bad rap as that tasteless, watery green thing you eat before the good stuff when you’re at your grandmother’s house. But there some exquisite ways to bring out summer flavors in a well-designed salad that will force you to reconsider your previous conceptions. Here’s the top five.

1) Watercress Salad with Orange and Avocado

Oh, my. This is a delightful treat. Ripe, fresh ingredients with a light feel but a sweet taste. You probably didn’t even know what watercress was until now, huh? Time to learn.

What you need: (12 servings)


2.5 tablespoons fresh cilantro

¾ tablespoon of aniseed

4 large garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup of olive oil

1 red onion (sliced)

¼ cup fresh pomegranate juice

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced Serrano chiles (seeded)


4 large naval oranges

2 large avocados (peeled, pitted, sliced)

5 green onions

3 bunches of watercress (stems trimmed)

5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

What to do:


Preheat broiler. Put your garlic cloves on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes per side.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Throw in the onion slices and cook until light brown and soft, about 7 minutes per side. Finely chop garlic and onion. Whisk pomegranate juice, lime juice, chiles, and aniseed in small bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil. Mix in onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in cilantro.


Cut off all peel and white pith from oranges. Cut between membranes to release segments.

Combine cabbage, watercress, green onions, and orange segments in large bowl. Add dressing and avocado slices and toss gently to coat. Transfer salad to large platter and serve.


2) Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumber

Whoever said salad had to be green? This one takes advantage of summer’s best offerings: CORN. And it’s so easy you’ll be doing backflips on your kitchen counter. Check it out.

What you need: (12 servings)

1 purple onion (diced)

15.5 oz of fresh kernel corn

15.5 oz of white corn

2 tomatoes (chopped)

1 cucumber (diced)

15 oz of sweet peas

3 tablespoons pimentos

1 cup of mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Just mix all that stuff together! Season it with salt and pepper, cover it, and stick it in the fridge. Let it cool for at least 1 hour and remove for serious feasting.


3) Tomato Salad

This is a recipe swiped from Nigella Lawson’s recipe book because that of hers is simple and cannot be beat.

What you need: (6 servings)

18 oz cherry tomatoes (halved)

¼ teaspoon English mustard

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

1 teaspoon sugar


black pepper

1 cup milk

1 large egg (beaten)

4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

chives (or chopped spring onions)

What to do:

Fill your sink halfway up with cold water. Next, mix the mustard, flour, and sugar with about a teaspoon of salt and some pepper in a heavy-based saucepan. Add milk and stir to mix until it becomes a smooth paste, then put on low heat and continue adding milk, stirring as you do.

When milk is added, add the beaten egg and vinegar and continue whisking until it begins to thicken. When the mixture has become creamy, whisk in the oil and plunge the pan in the sink of cold water. Continue to whisk.

When mixture is cool, cut the tomatoes in half and arrange on serving plate.

Drizzle dressing over tomatoes and add some chopped spring onions or chives.


4. Golden Beet and Sunflower Salad

If you haven’t gotten in on the beet salad game, you need to reevaluate your priorities. This simple, subtle, light salad is a fantastic starter to a meal or complement to a main dish.

What you need: (6 servings)

2.5 lbs medium golden beets (keep the greens on, but trimmed)

2 tablespoons shallot (finely chopped)

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

2.5 tablespoons cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

6 oz sunflower sprouts



What to do:

Preheat oven to 425°. Wrap the beats individually in aluminum foil and place in preheated oven. Leave for about 45 minutes or until tender.

With beets in the oven, toast sunflower seeds in a pie plate or a small baking pan in lower third of oven, shaking occasionally, until seeds are golden, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together shallot, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream. Continue whisking.

When beets are cool, slip off and discard skins. Cut beets lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and toss gently with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette in a bowl.

Toss sunflower sprouts and half of sunflower seeds with remaining vinaigrette in a separate. Arrange beets on 6 salad plates and top with dressed sprouts. Sprinkle salads with remaining sunflower seeds.


5. Steak Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Saving the best for last is always a good idea. This Vietnamese-inspired specialty includes something you didn’t even think to put in your salad: STEAK. Yes, don’t hate on the salad just yet, meat lovers. Give this a try first.

What you need: (12 servings)


9 tablespoons fish sauce

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 teaspoon minced red jalapeño chili

3 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves, minced


3 ¾ pounds New York steak, trimmed, cut into 2/3-inch cubes

6 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry

6 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 teaspoons (packed) brown sugar

6 bunches watercress, bottom 2 inches discarded, cut into 1-inch lengths

9 cups mizuna leaves, torn in half if very large (about 1 1/2 ounces)

6 cups (lightly packed) torn Bibb lettuce leaves (about 6 large)

3 cups Thai basil leaf cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1.5 12-ounce English hothouse cucumbers, halved lengthwise, sliced very thinly on diagonal

36 cherry tomatoes

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1.5 medium-size red onion, cut into thin wedges6

6 shallots, sliced into thin rounds

3/4 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices

What to do:

For dressing:
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend.

For salad:

Mix oyster sauce, Sherry, tamari soy sauce, minced garlic, and brown sugar in medium bowl. Stir in steak. Marinate steak at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Combine watercress, mizuna, lettuce, basil, cucumber, and tomatoes in large bowl. Add half of dressing and toss to coat. Arrange greens mixture on large rimmed platter.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add onion and shallots and sauté 30 seconds. Add beef with marinade. Sauté until beef is brown outside but still pink inside, about 4 minutes. Add pineapple slices and stir until pineapple is heated through, about 1 minute longer. Spoon steak mixture with any pan juices atop dressed greens mixture on platter. Drizzle salad with remaining dressing and serve.

About the Author: This is a guest contribution by Nate Miller. Nate is a freelance writer and food blogger who loves sharing the great recipes that he has found.

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