12 Easy Summer Salad Recipes That Use The Season's Best Ingredients

Summer Squash With Scallions, Chile, and Parsley
Photo: GREG DUPREE

Grill fare is great and all, but sometimes the best part of a barbecue is the fresh-picked produce that made its way into the mountain of salad on your plate. After all, summer is high time for scouring the farmer's market for fresh fruits and vegetables. And asparagus, corn, tomatoes, and peppers at their peak don't need much more than a drizzle of dressing. This means you have lots more time to be doing the important things, like lounging poolside and figuring out what's for dessert.

If you'd like to take your greens game up a notch and wow your guests with minimal effort—or just get the kids to eat some farm fresh veggies—these simple salad recipes will do the trick. We're got the classic crowd-pleasers, like nectarine and burrata salad, sweet-and-savory fruit options (watermelon!), plus other fresh takes and recipe upgrades.

01 of 14

Every-Citrus Salad With Almonds and Manchego

Citrus Recipes: Every-Citrus Salad with Almonds and Manchego
Caitlin Bensel

Though citrus season is typically a bit earlier in the year, most grocery stores carry oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus options all year round, and they still taste delicious. Use the juiciest citrus fruits you can get your hands on to make this fresh salad, which also includes radicchio, parsley, Manchego, and roasted almonds. You'll get an extra burst of citrus courtesy of an orange juice-based dressing, which also helps ensure that every bite is crunchy, salty, nutty, bright, sharp, and bitter. Enjoy this vibrant salad solo, or serve it alongside salmon or grilled chicken.

02 of 14

Grilled Halloumi Salad

Grilled Halloumi Salad
Greg DuPree

There are a few reasons why this delicious grilled halloumi cheese salad is going to become your summer dinner fave. First, it's easy to throw together after work, and still manages to be super filling. Second, it hits all the right flavor notes, from briny olives to spicy garlic and cool, crunchy cucumbers. But, the most important reason to make this salad is to eat grilled halloumi, a firm cheese that can stand the heat of a grill or grill pan. The taste is salty like feta, but you can cut into the planks of crispy, melty cheese with a knife and fork like you would tofu or a portobello mushroom.

03 of 14

Summer Squash With Scallions, Chile, and Parsley

Summer Squash With Scallions, Chile, and Parsley
Greg DuPree

Look no further: your go-to summer side dish for every potluck, barbecue, and picnic is here. If you've never eaten a raw squash salad before, you're in for a treat (and there's no need to cook a thing). Tossing the rounds with salt allows them to soften and absorb every bit of flavor. While the vinegar adds the right amount of acidity to pair well with almost any meat, but grilled steak, roasted chicken, or quick-sautéed shrimp are particularly perfect alongside. Topped with a chopped almond dressing, the result is light, flavorful, and perfect for a hot summer evening.

04 of 14

Crunchy Chicken Salad With Oregano Vinaigrette

Crispy Chicken Cutlets With A Crunchy Salad
Jennifer Causey

What pairs perfectly with a crispy chicken cutlet? A fresh, green salad that's dressed in a lemony vinaigrette and showered with cheese. The vinaigrette in this simple recipe might just become a house favorite—the shallots become lightly pickled in the vinegar, and fresh oregano lends sophisticated flair to an everyday dressing. The salad can be adjusted based on the season—try tomatoes and arugula in the summer and roasted squash and kale in the fall. Bitter greens work particularly well, as they balance the rich, fried cutlet.

05 of 14

Spring Green Salad with Avocado and Herbs

Spring green salad displayed on a serving platter and served with a green dressing.
Greg DuPree

This simple salad recipe proves that a fresh-tasting hearty plate of greens and mix-ins can be part of a delicious dinner that the whole family will love. The base is romaine lettuce hearts—the crispiest of lettuces—with chopped cucumber, snap peas, and edamame mixed in. Add in chives and mint from the garden, plus pistachios for crunch and it's pretty much a perfect salad. The dressing's a creamy avocado and yogurt situation with a Caesar-esque twist. If anchovies freak your kiddos out, you can skip them and just season the dressing to taste with salt.

06 of 14

Watermelon Salad With Pickled Rind

Watermelon Salad with Pickled Rind
Victor Protasio

Watermelons are synonymous with summer and certainly don't need much help to shine. This recipe makes use of the whole fruit—pairing sweet watermelon slices with a rind that's been quick-pickled in a chili-spiked mixture. A whipped feta base, peppery arugula, and a confetti of chopped salted pistachios complete this sweet and savory dish that's bound to become a summer fave.

07 of 14

Nicoise-Inspired Summer Salad

Nicoise Inspired Summer Salad
Caitlin Bensel

If you need a protein boost, give this healthy yet hearty salad a whirl. Smoked trout, chickpeas, and soft-boiled eggs are packed with the muscle-building nutrient, while blanched sugar snaps and cherry tomatoes add some sweetness. And don't forget the salty garlic and anchovy dressing, which ties everything together.

08 of 14

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad
Jennifer Causey

Watermelon isn't the only melon that peaks in the summertime. Cantaloupe and honeydew come into their own, with their buttery textures and richly floral flavors, so take advantage of the spoils of melon season with a unique salad. Only a simple coating of lime zest and fresh ginger are needed to make the whole dish coherent. The fruits get to shine in this dish.

09 of 14

Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad

Spicy Grilled Chicken With Shaved Zucchini Salad
Jen Causey

Are you searching for a recipe for a flavorful, healthy chicken dinner? Look no further than this simple, summery number. The Aleppo pepper-rubbed chicken packs just enough heat, and is paired with a lemony-marinated zucchini salad, all of which gets drizzled with a garlic and herb dressing. To make this recipe even more filling, add some grilled bread or pita. Shopping tip: If you can't find Aleppo pepper, which is imported from Syria, you can use regular chili flakes.

10 of 14

Chicken Salad With Chard, Cabbage, and Pickled Onions

Chicken Salad With Chard, Cabbage, and Pickled Onions
Anna Williams

Want a low-maintenance chicken salad minus the mayo? Simply use your broiler to make irresistibly crispy chicken thighs then pair them with quick-pickled onions, green cabbage, and raw chard leaves (think kale that's easier to chew). It's quick, it's easy, and best of all, it's delicious.

11 of 14

Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad

This pasta salad will satisfy all of your savory cravings. Get the recipe for Real Simple's Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad.
Greg DuPree

Who doesn't love pasta salad? Salty olives and feta cheese combined with fresh tomatoes, chewy pasta, and tender cubes of roasted eggplant make this the perfect satisfying and healthy lunch or dinner. The longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together, so make extra and eat well all week long.

12 of 14

Summer Shrimp Salad

Summer Shrimp Salad
Philippa Brathwaite

Against the heat and kick of jalapeños, watermelon stands sweet and firm. Against buttery avocado, the tart fruit breaks through. But altogether, these ingredients make for a truly special summer salad. What's more, this whole dish is ready in 30 minutes, so you can get a presentation-worthy dinner on the table for company in a blink when the need arises.

13 of 14

Torn Pita and Eggplant Salad With Parsley and Green Tahini

Torn Pita and Eggplant Salad With Parsley and Green Tahini
Jennifer Causey

If you're a baba ghanoush fan, you'll love this summer salad, which is basically a deconstructed version of the popular dip. It's made with eggplant, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and pita, and features a flavorful green tahini that can pull double duty as a dip for crudités or a roasted vegetable accompaniment. The best part about this simple salad is that it comes together in just 15 minutes.

14 of 14

Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad

Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad
GREG DUPREE

Though there are minimal greens in this salad, we have a feeling that you won't miss 'em. That's because the sweet and savory combo of creamy burrata, tangy pickled onions, and juicy nectarines easily steal the show. And let's not forget the mint leaves and salty Marcona almonds, which balance the rich flavors. Serve this salad at your first BBQ of the summer and your guests will thank you!

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