One of the biggest affronts to the food world is the idea that salad equals boring. We think all the sad side salads served at restaurants and family gatherings (You know, those beds of greens, maybe with some croutons thrown on top and sliced cherry tomatoes?) might have a little something to do with our altered perception of these meals. Salads can be so much more than just a side dish. One of the best ways to do that is to never be shy about adding things to your salad, so go ahead and load up on the veggies, fruits, nuts, and grains. Try playing around with texture, this Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad is packed with crisp cabbage, cucumbers, red bell pepper, and broken up pieces of raw ramen noodles. We know: we wish we had a bowl of that right now, too.
We’re not done yet, though. We’ve put together a list of 15 awesome, super-light, and flavorful salads that you need to try this summer. Because nobody should have to eat a boring salad. Unless that’s your thing. In that case, rock on.
1. Crunchy Fresh Broccoli Quinoa Salad
This Crunchy Fresh Broccoli Quinoa Salad is the perfect lunch! It’s also versatile enough to meet all of your mealtime needs! Who could say no to fresh broccoli, kale, quinoa, grapes, and more in a creamy dressing? It can be rolled up in a soft flour tortilla or sandwiched between rustic bread for a quick and portable meal that’s light and delicious.
2. Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad With Tarragon Dressing
This Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad is chock full of fresh and in-season ingredients like radishes, celery, tomatoes, and of course, corn. A bit of small habanero is added to the corn for an extra zing to this awesome summer salad. Drizzle it with tarragon dressing for a truly unique combination of flavors.
3. Iceberg Wedge Salad With Shiitake Bacon
To give you fair warning, once you try this Iceberg Wedge Salad With Shiitake Bacon, you may have a tough time going back to the traditional kind. These are so fun to eat! Shiitake mushroom “bacon” and cashew-based blue cheese dressing is propped on a crunchy wedge of iceberg lettuce for the yummiest (and tiniest) salad bites you’ve ever seen! Enjoy a bunch on your own, or serve them as a unique appetizer.
4. Quinoa Edamame Salad With Radish
This Quinoa Edamame Salad With Radish is perfect for summer days. Aside from being uber-healthy with protein-packed quinoa and calcium-rich edamame this salad also gets a punch of flavor from paper-thin, peppery radishes and a tangy, bright lemon-mint vinaigrette. It’s ideal for the warmer weather and takes no time to make, so you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the later sunsets.
5. Cool Cucumber Salad
Have you ever had that cucumber salad with that tangy dressing made from sour cream, vinegar, and dill? This Cool Cucumber Salad is exactly like that, without the dairy! This recipe is just as good as the original, but even better because it has garlic and instead of sour cream, it uses cashew butter and coconut milk.
6. Chinese Seaweed Salad
This Chinese Seaweed Salad is refreshing, healthy, and a great addition to a dinner of East Asian-inspired cuisine. With the homemade Chinese-style spicy dressing, you’ll definitely want to pile your plate up with a second helping.
7. Crunchy Salad With Sweet Potato Salsa and Creamy Turmeric Dressing
This vibrant, Crunchy Salad With Sweet Potato Salsa and Creamy Turmeric Dressing includes three recipes that work together in perfect harmony — a crunchy slaw, a salsa, and a creamy dressing. The slaw is made from fresh carrots, red cabbage, snap peas, dried sliced figs, and fresh orange juice. It’s mixed with a creamy sweet potato salsa and a drizzle of a creamy turmeric dressing. Enjoy this crunchy and nutritious slaw for lunch!
8. Peanut and Daikon Radish Noodle Salad
This warm, pad Thai-inspired Peanut and Daikon Radish Noodle Salad is made from spiralized daikon radish noodles instead of rice noodles. It’s sweet, spicy, savory, crunchy, and full of bright flavor from the raw vegetables. Daikon radish is spiralized and then tossed in a creamy peanut dressing and stir-fried baby corn, edamame, and bell peppers. It’s the perfect option for a light lunch or picnic option.
9. Wild Spinach and Asparagus Salad
Bright, colorful, light, and crunchy, this Wild Spinach and Asparagus Salad is perfect. Asparagus ribbons, radishes, rainbow carrots, and whimsical chive blossoms are strewn atop a bed of nutrient-dense micro greens. A tangy tahini dressing ties all the different flavors together. Enjoy this salad with a refreshing glass of lemonade.
10. Salsa de Palmito: Brazilian Hearts of Palm Salad
This simple and refreshing Salsa de Palmito is perfect for your summer barbecue. Hearts of palm are tossed with tomatoes, onion, and spring onion in a simple dressing made from olive oil, lime, salt, and pepper, to give it a little bit of spice. If you’ve never tried hearts of palm before, this salad is a great place to start.
11. Kale Coconut Salad With Orange-Infused Vinaigrette
Need to detox? This Kale Coconut Salad With Orange-Infused Vinaigrette is one powerfully cleansing meal. This dish is light and citrus-y but still very filling, with the orange-infused vinaigrette adding a subtle sweetness. Enjoy immediately or let the flavors mesh together in the refrigerator before digging in.
12. Spicy Raw Thai Salad
If you love fresh produce and raw veggie dishes, you’ll love this Spicy Raw Thai Salad. The great thing about this salad is that you can use any veggies you want: broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, kale, shredded cabbage, bell peppers, avocado, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes … You name it, you can put it in your salad. It’s crunchy and fresh, but with a powerful kick from the extra-spicy dressing.
13. Chickpea Waldorf Salad
A Waldorf salad is a salad traditionally made of fresh apples, celery, and walnuts, tossed with mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. Enter this Chickpea Waldorf Salad. The addition of chickpeas, tart cranberries, and a seasoned mayonnaise make it even more delectable. We could eat this for lunch every day!
14. Spicy Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad
This simple Spicy Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad has so much going for it, but it uses so few ingredients. Cucumber, avocado, spicy seasoning, and some umami flavor and, bam! You’re in flavor town. You can eat this by itself or serve it over some fresh, baby greens. It’s very hydrating, cooling, and filling — sounds like just what we need in the summertime.
15. Summer Watermelon Salad
Summer brings us juicy, red watermelon. You could eat it raw or you could go for this Summer Watermelon Salad topped with tangy homemade vinaigrette. This is a clean eating kind of recipe, so it’s super light, but packed with good for you ingredients like greens, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. The vinaigrette is a super easy dressing that can be made in a matter of minutes — and you’ll have plenty left over to use for your summer salads.
So delicious, so refreshing, and so light — and there are plenty more where these came from! Check out our vegan summer salads for more ideas.
Lead image source: Wild Spinach and Asparagus Salad