Cool Sensations: Summer Salads to Perk Up Any Menu

Liz Merritt
June 7, 2017

Looking for a cool take on dinner that won’t turn the kitchen into an inferno this summer? Look no further than a light and healthy summer salad to accompany a breezy evening on the patio, poolside or at the beach with friends and family.

The best part about summer salads is you can dress them up or down for any occasion, pairing them with your favorite protein for a complete meal. From seared salmon to tofu and grilled chicken and grass-fed beef, the sky’s the limit when it comes to protein accompaniments for these hearty salads.

Summer Salads Deliver

Summer Salads

Summer Rainbow Salad features arugula, beets, apples and walnuts.

While light, fresh salads work perfectly as main dishes, they also can be pared back a smidge and transformed into side dishes.

Perfect for any picnic or pool party, toss together a batch of your favorite greens and dive into these summer salads.

Accompany with iced tea flavored with a sprig of mint, sangria, seasonal craft beer or your favorite wine for a perfect summer evening meal.

Summer Rainbow Salad

This salad pairs extremely well with grilled chicken or seared tofu for an added main-dish protein option. I’m a big fan of arugula. But you can use any leafy green combo as a base for this yummy salad.


Rainbow Summer Salad

The stars of the show in this summer salad are arugula, beets, apples and walnuts in a light, breezy vinaigrette. Enjoy!

  • 6 cups arugula or preferred greens
  • 2 green apples sliced thin
  • 2 red beets steamed or roasted, sliced thin
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
  • 1/3 cup fat-free feta cheese crumbles or sub goat cheese
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Italian herb mix


Blow Your Socks Off Broccoli Salad

Summer Salad

Blow Your Socks Off Broccoli Salad

Light and healthy, we subbed 0% fat plain Greek Yogurt to lighten up what would normally be a mayo-based dressing.

We also added chopped walnuts for a healthy fat, while removing any traces of bacon.

This gives the salad a nice, light flavor and texture that will make you the healthy star of summer picnic season.

This variation is vegetarian friendly and will rapidly become a favorite summer salad. To round out the meal, you might consider pairing this salad with a lemony grilled salmon filet or a seared grass-fed steak.


Blow Your Socks Off Broccoli Salad

Be the star of the picnic show with this hearty, healthy broccoli salad.

  • 1.5-2.0 pounds broccoli florets bite-sized pieces
  • 6 ounces fresh blueberries
  • 1 pear large, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1/4 cup pecans chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  1. Place broccoli, blueberries and pecans into large salad or mixing bowl.

  2. In a separate, small bowl, place diced pears. Pour 1 tbsp. lemon juice over pears and toss to prevent browning. Allow to sit 5 minutes, drain off lemon juice and add pears to the salad.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Gently pour dressing over salad and mix gently (making sure you don't squish the blueberries) until salad is completely coated.

  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Store any leftover salad in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Go With the Grains Salad

Summer Salad

Go With the Grains Salad includes a base of hearty quinoa with tomatoes, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

For the grain lovers, this very light, delicate salad pairs nicely with nearly any protein from the grill.

If quinoa is not your thing, then buckwheat is another great grain that compliments this hearty mix nicely.

I love to serve it with marinated, grilled chicken breasts or a smoked pork tenderloin and a refreshing sangria blend.

The recipe also incorporates beautiful seasonal tomatoes that are a  favorite this time of year.


Go With the Grains Salad

Nothing makes a heartier salad than ancient grains. Try this one with quinoa, or sub buckwheat for a nuttier flavor.

  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked, tri-colored
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato large, cooked, cubed
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Cover dry quinoa with water in a medium saucepan and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in a fine strainer.

  2. Return quinoa to saucepan and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and liquid is almost completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered for 5 minutes.

  3. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large, shallow bowl or platter so you can spread it out to cool more rapidly. Place in refrigerator.

  4. Once quinoa has completely cooled, toss gently in a salad bowl with tomatoes, broccoli and sweet potatoes. 

  5. Drizzle dressing over the mixture and stir gently. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Top with raw pumpkin seeds to serve.

Cabana Corn Salad

This cold corn salad hits the spot for patio parties, poolside get-togethers and barbecues.

For our vegetarian and vegan friends, this cold corn salad hits the spot for patio parties, poolside get-togethers and barbecues.

The secret is to grill the corn fresh on the cob. This gives the salad some depth and added flavor that you won’t get if you use canned or frozen corn.

And if you’re not vegan, a sprinkle of feta, Cotija or goat cheese mixed into this salad is pure heaven.

Our thanks to BOOMbaby food contributor Kim Robinson for sharing this bright, light and healthy option. Kim is founder and owner of Kimba Creations, a health nutrition and culinary education organization.

Cabana Corn Salad

This is a great traveling salad because the ingredients are hearty and won't get mushy. So whip up a batch to bring to family functions, church dinners, picnics, camping trips and pool parties.

  • 2 cups organic grilled corn cut from cob
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 summer squash or zucchini diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley chopped
  • ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Brush corn lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and dust with ground cumin before grilling. Grill on low, turning frequently, until corn is cooked and has nice grill marks.

  2. Cut corn from cob and let cool.

  3. Toss remaining vegetables into mixing bowl. Add corn and gently mix together.

  4. Whisk together olive oil, garlic, apple cider vinegar and ground cumin to make vinaigrette dressing. 

  5. Drizzle dressing over vegetables and mix gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 30 minutes to allow dressing to marinate with vegetables. Toss again and serve.

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