How to Make the Best Summer Salad + 3 Variations

July 21, 2014

When the weather is warm, sometimes you just want something simple to put together without turning on the stove or oven. That is why I think salads make the perfect summertime meal. There are so many options and variations of what you could put together, the possibilities are endless.

As we’ve mentioned, salads often get a bad rap. Many people think that they aren’t substantial or refer to them as rabbit food. These people obviously haven’t tried one of my salads. When I make a salad I make it a well balanced meal, by including in it fats, protein, carbohydrates and of course, vegetables.

Below are a few ideas from each category. Simply combine one or two things from each column, choose a dressing and you’ll have yourself a delicious, well balanced meal in no time!

Base: Quinoa, kale, cabbage, chard, spinach, arugula

Protein: Beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, tempeh, quinoa

Carbs: gluten-free noodles, quinoa, brown rice, millet

Fats: olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives

Vegetable and fruits: cucumbers, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, beets, sugar snap peas, apples, pears, berries, raisins, grapes, figs

Dressings: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, tahini, dijon mustard, pesto, salsa

To make things even easier for you, I want to share with you a few of my recipes that have been developed and taste test approved. Any of these would be perfect to take to a summer barbecue, picnic or potluck.

Italian pasta salad

~ The perfect addition to a backyard BBQ

How to Make the Best Summer Salad + 3 variations

1 zucchini and squash, spiralized
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 jar capers
Squeeze lemon
Garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp pure maple syrup
Sea salt and pepper

• Use a spiralizer to cut the zucchini and squash. If you don’t have a spiral slicer, you can also use a
vegetable peeler. Doing this will give you wide, thin noodles, similar to fettuccine
• In a small bowl, add together all the ingredients for your dressing. Whisk well to combine.
• Add the rest of the ingredients to the zucchini noodles, drizzle with the dressing and stir until the salad is
well mixed

Bean, Corn and Edamame Salad
~ A wonderfully simple picnic meal

How to Make the Best Summer Salad + 3 variations

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cups corn
1 cup edamame
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 small avocado, diced
sea salt

• Thaw the corn and edamame, if using frozen. Place in a collender, run some warm water over them and
let sit
• Drain and rinse the beans, place into a large bowl
• Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
• Chill for 30 min before serving

Red and Green Quinoa Salad
~ This salad is sure to please everyone at your next potluck

How to Make the Best Summer Salad + 3 variations

For the salad:
1/2 cup red quinoa
1 cup chopped kale
1/2 head broccoli, cut into small florets
1/4 diced avocado for garnish

For pesto sauce:
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
3 artichoke hearts, canned
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 1/4 lemon
garlic powder
sea salt

• Make the sauce by adding all the ingredients except for the oil into the food processor. Pulse and slowly
add the olive oil, process until it is a smooth sauce
• Prepare quinoa according to directions, take off the heat and add the broccoli and kale while it is still hot
(causing the kale to wilt and the broccoli to lightly steam
• Pour the desired amount of sauce over the quinoa salad, I used a little over half of what the recipe made
• Mix well and serve either chilled or at room temperature (I thought it tasted great either way)

When cooking and preparing food, remember to always add the most important ingredient…your love and good intentions. 🙂

Related: Vegan Watermelon and “Feta” Salad

Yummy Cold Noodle Salads

Kelp Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing

Basil Sorrel Pesto Potato Salad


Photo: Kathryn Farrugia


Kathryn is a vegan cook and nutrition consultant based in Los Angeles. She uses yoga in the park, runs by the beach and hikes through the mountains to connect and inspire creativity that she brings to her dishes. She is determined to make the world a healthier and happier place one meal at a time. Read more at ZENutrition or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


always stay inspired!