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Favorite summer salads (beyond trad. pasta)

Weather cooperating, looks like our family will spend most of our summer weekends outdoors or running around. I'd love to have an array of summer grain salad recipes that we can carry around in our cooler, and that make the better part of a meal. I'm happy to hear about great pasta salads, but also very interested in other grains and combos.

So what are some of your favorites?

Here are two of our family standbys:

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

We also really enjoy a broccoli and rice salad with raisins from "Quick Vegetarian Pleasures."

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    1. nice thread...the other day at work i demoed a quinoa salad w/ mini pearl grape tomatoes, fresh organic basil & feta w/ mediterranean herbs. add some evoo, salt to the boiling water, fresh ground pepper & you're all set. such a simple salad, and people really liked it. the other demo lady did a quinoa fruit salad that was really good as well, w/ sliced apples, raisins, slivered almonds, lime juice, salt, cinnamon & some orange or lemon zest. nice & refreshing, and something different, which is always welcome. i had never cooked quinoa, and it really is such a great and versatile grain that's easy to incorporate into your diet.

      1. Tabbouleh. Everybody has his/her own preferences here. I only make it when I can get fresh mint. Soak the bulgur for half an hour while chopping lots of parsley, mint, and scallions, (cucumber and tomato optional), then press all water out of the bulgur, combine with the chopped stuff, add real lemon juice, olive oil, salt to taste. A summertime staple; an article of faith.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          The kids love this straight out of the garden in the summer, stacked:

          tomato slice
          mozzarella slice
          basil leaf
          drizzle with worstershire
          sprinkle with black pepper & oregano

          1. re: Querencia

            and for those of us who can't eat wheat, quinoa is a terrific stand-in for the bulgur in tabbouleh.

          2. Thickly sliced watermelon (rind cut off) with thinly sliced (or crumbled) feta. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint and a drizzle of extra-virgin.

            Also, when melons are around...
            Scallop, Bacon & Honeydew Salad

            And for whole grain option (I second the tabbouleh, awesome

            1. Mozarella and tomato slices in marinated balsamic vinaigrette layered with basil.

              Version 2, dredge the tomatoes in bread crumbs and then pan sear and top the the mozz and basil and drizzle with some extra vinaigrette.

              Cucumber and sour cream with dill (old fashioned but I still love it.

              Roasted corn, black bean, onion, cilantro, tomato and avacado and hot peppers

              Grilled romaine chopped with olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh gorgonzola, grilled onions and artichokes with a light lemon vinaigrette

              Grilled zuchinni, summer squash, crimini, egg plant and cabbage with a sweet honey balsamic dressing and tangy pecorino romano.

              Any couscous salad is wonderful.

              Watermelon, cantelope, mint with a balsamic dressing

              Orzo with mandarine oranges, cilantro, toasted almonds, water chesnuts, golden raisins, scallions, etc.

              And I didn't even touch seafood ...


              Let me know if you want any recipes.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kchurchill5

                Grilled zuchinni, summer squash, crimini, egg plant and cabbage with a sweet honey balsamic dressing and tangy pecorino romano.

                Can I please get the recipe

                1. re: drewb123

                  Sure. It is very basic and very easy. It can be served warm, rrom temp or cooled. I love it. I go to the Farmers market every Sat am and always get the fresh veggies. FL we are blessed with fresh veggies and a market every sat year round. I would be lost without it. Some months are better than others but I was always looking at ways to make use of all the fresh veggies.

                  Now I admit, I will give directions for the grilling or even roasting if you can not grill and the dressing, but use what you have available. Sometimes I have more of one veggie and none of another. So it is your discretion. But these are my favorites.

                  I cut everything pretty uniform, about 1/2" thick. I want to get good grill marks. Once grilled you can cut into uniform pieces. The cabbage I cut in slices. I coat everything with a brush on both sides, olive oil that has been infused with red pepper flakes and garlic oil. This is a key to me. I just heat some olive oil on the stove with some red pepper flakes and a couple of smashed (not chopped or minced, just smashed) garlic. Just heat for 10 minutes on the stove top. The flavor will infuse in the oil. Then I salt and pepper and sprinkle with Italian seasoning on both sides. Nothing more. I have a real nice seasoning I make with my own herbs, but basically any good Italian seasoning will work just fine. Then heat up the grill even a inside grill pan is fine. Grill all the veggies. Once grilled cut everything in nice bite size pieces, not too small. Cut in the cabbage into shreds and add to the salad for some texture.

                  Dressing: 4 tablespoons balsamic, 5 tablespoons evoo, 1 small shallot fine diced, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon (IF THAT) go light of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, s/p to taste and then to finish it off 1/8 cup fresh basil just rough chopped,

                  Now the topping. I top the salad with some simple croutons or basically just some baguettes I toasted cut in cubes and then mixed with a little evoo, parm, and some herbs and then baked until crunchy. Nothing fancy. If you have good fresh home made or even store bough croutons, by all means use those. I just crunch them up a bit to add a little texture to the salad on the top with the cheese. Some fresh Pecorino Romano is great lightly greated over the top when finished.

                  SO ... put all the veggies in the bowl and toss with the vinegar. Use as much vinegar as needed, what you do need can be used for a great salad. It all depends on how many veggies you use. Toss well, top with the croutons and some grated pecorino romano. Serve warm which is great, room temp or even chilled. Can't loose
                  The dressing I make the day before or morning before, gets only better. the croutons, my one grocer has some fresh ones and the bakery I usually get which are great and inexpensive but by all means use what ever you have. This is all about fresh veggies and a simple vinaigrette.

                  NOTE: I made the veggies once the day ahead then I made the vinaigrette but I heated that and poured over the room temp veggies. It also worked great for a go to guick salad for a party. Everything in advance but still great flavor.

              2. The Rice and vegetable salad from The Silver Palate Cookbook is my favorite make-ahead salad; it's portable, delicious, colorful, and keeps well. Whenever I've brought it to family or potluck dinners, I get rave reviews and people scarf up the leftovers to take home themselves! Rice, red and green peppers, red onions, scallions, shallots, currants (i prefer golden raisins here), parsley, dill and black olives (which I usually omit), tossed in a simple red wine vinaigrette. It is seriously good and looks great too..


                1. Santa Fe Salsalad

                  1 can Black Beans drained & rinsed
                  1 can white or yellow Hominy, drained & rinsed
                  1 red, 1 green 1 yellow Bell Pepper diced
                  1 box Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
                  2 small cans Diced Green Chiles (or jalapenos if you like it hot)
                  1 Red Onion, diced
                  1 can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
                  Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

                  Toss to combine everything down through the red onion. Pile on a large platter. Surround with Blue Corn Chips and top dress with the enchilada sauce.

                  1. I'm bringing up pasta salad only because I think it depends upon what you call traditional. (I have relatives from NYC that won't eat it, because it isn't macaroni and mayo - a "salad" I don't understand!)

                    It involves, but isn't limited to:
                    artichoke hearts
                    occasionally pickled asparagus
                    genoa salami
                    havarti (must be havarti even though it sounds a little off-kilter with the rest)
                    fairly finely chopped parmesan
                    broccoli and cauliflower florets
                    occasionally onion
                    usually green onion
                    occasionally grape or cherry tomatoes
                    occasionally kalamata olives
                    balsamic vinaigrette (usually made with juice from marinated artichoke hearts)

                    There's something I'm forgetting here - but I always forget something and add something else, it seems.

                    1. I probably have mentioned this salad on every past thread on this topic, it's one of my favorites in the summer - Suzanne Goin's Heirloom tomato salad with burrata (or mozzarella), torn croutons, and fresh basil in a red wine/balsamic vinaigrette. It's a beautiful presentation so a great salad to bring to gatherings:

                      Recipe and discussion link:

                      I love farro and this is another salad that's non-traditional but a real crowd pleaser.
                      Farro Salad with broccoli rabe, cherries, and pecans

                      Pic of tomato salad:

                      1. This was really good and a cinch to make. I swapped ACV for the sherry vinegar and added one more can of black beans. Definitely more than a pinch of cumin, too - more like a TB.
                        People raved.

                        Black Bean Salad
                        Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

                        6 to 8 servings

                        2 cans black beans, drained, about 30 ounces
                        1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
                        2 Roma tomatoes, diced
                        1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
                        1/4 cup diced red onion
                        1/4 cup diced green onions
                        1/4 cup diced pineapple
                        1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
                        1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
                        4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
                        Juice of 1/2 lime
                        3 tablespoons honey
                        1 tablespoons salt
                        1 teaspoon black pepper
                        Pinch ground cumin

                        Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

                        1. Garlicky Broccoli Salad from the NYTimes a year or two ago. I wonder if I can find a link...


                          Wonderful. Better with homemade red wine vinegar.

                          1. Cucumbers w/seasoned rice wine vinegar--very simple, very tasty. I also make a pasta salad using tubetti pasta. I make a spinach & basil pesto with garlic, parm and evoo but no pignolis. Add some mayo to the pesto, toss with pasta, add shredded proscuitto and toasted pignoli. YUM!

                            1. We love an orzo salad with kalamatas, roasted peppers, feta, herbs oil & vinegar. Goes well with anything.

                              Also love a grilled red potato salad w/blue cheese & bacon; traditional potato salad w/hard boiled eggs & pickles, or german or french potato salads, with warm vinaigrettes.

                              We make salads all year long in SoCal, but love making a fresh fruit salad with all of the berries, melons & stone fruits from the farmer's market. And can't resist putting fresh corn off the cob in salads with avocado & tomato & basil. Dress with lime juice & salt - it is delicious.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                Mmmm.... I love orzo salad, my favorite is the Orzo with Everything from epicurious.


                                I also really love Giada's Antipasto Salad, especially the fresh basil dressing.


                                1. A Japense cold noodle (Harusame) salad is great for the summer. The ingredients are simple (noodles, eggs, cucumber, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil). http://japanesefood.about.com/od/sala.... You can use this recipe as a spring board, but you can add chicken, green onions, etc.

                                  1. To add to the black bean and corn salads, I do one with corn, black beans, red bell, diced mango, red onion, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, salt, lime juice, and parsley or cilantro.

                                    And I love a red cabbage and mango coleslaw.

                                    1. We do a different spin on the fresh mozzie and tomato slice stacks:

                                      Bottom layer, sliced fresh mozzie, spread with a bit of pesto, then basil leaf, then your fresh tomato slice. Drizzle with olive oil, top with ground black pepper.

                                      We don't eat bread, but you could stack all this on rounds of crusty french or italian bread.

                                      1. Have also done this one- roasted potato salad, with roasted garlic and red bell peppers,no mayo!! Tossed with olive oil and a bit of balsamic.Serve at room temp. You could also add goat cheese and roasted pine nuts for a more hearty salad.

                                        1. Some great thoughts on this thread, I'll try several. Here's my standby:

                                          Corn and Barley (or Spelt) salad

                                          1 cup pearl barley or spelt
                                          1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
                                          3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                                          2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
                                          2 tablespoons chopped basil or oregano leaves
                                          2 tablespoons sliced chives
                                          1 cup diced red tomatoes
                                          Freshly ground black pepper

                                          1. Cook grains. Drain and allow to come to room temperature.
                                          2. If using frozen corn, cook according to package directions; fresh corn does not need to be cooked.
                                          3. Mix corn and grains together.
                                          4. In a large bowl, mix together oil and vinegar. Add basil or oregano, and chives. Add barley mixture and tomatoes, and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

                                          Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

                                          Vegetarians and vegans love this one - it's substantial and toothsome as well as being delicious.