By April Dupee
When it’s so hot outside that standing in the kitchen makes you sweat, you need dinners that require minimal cooking. Say hello to simple summer salads.
Salads might be a health-food cliché, but they can also be a super convenient and tasty way to pack nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables and tons of flavor into one meal. With every bite, you’ll be getting health-boosting antioxidants and gut-friendly fiber. Add your favorite protein and a little dressing with healthy fats (which will help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins), and you’ve got a hearty, complete meal in no time at all.
Plus, salads can be customized to whatever you have on hand or to fit picky tastes. With endless flavor combinations, there’s something to satisfy even the biggest skeptic.
Ready to give it a try? The bounty of fresh fruits and veggies during the summer makes it the perfect time to work on your salad game. Eating seasonally comes with many benefits, too, like more nutrients and a lighter environmental footprint.
So, the next time you’re way too busy enjoying extra-long summer days to bother with the oven, throw together one of these stand-out summer salads for a quick and satisfying meal (best enjoyed outside with a glass of rosé, of course).
13 Protein-Packed Simple Summer Salads
This Caprese-inspired salad’s base is farro, an ancient grain rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and the cherry tomato-basil combo makes it a summer classic. Add grilled chicken or a hard-boiled egg on top to up the protein.
Instead of tuna, Bon Appétit’s Nicoise incorporates slow-roasted salmon, a flavorful fish that provides a healthy dose of omega-3s, which are good for your gut, help reduce heart disease risk factors, and fight inflammation. On top of tons of summer veggies, you can’t go wrong.
This one’s light, crunchy, and colorful, with lots of fresh seasonal produce and protein-rich shrimp to keep you satisfied. Just chop and toss and you’ll have a nutritious meal ready in less than 10 minutes.
Run to the nearest farmer’s market and pick up sweet, juicy peaches for this ultimate summer salad from Cooking Light. It pairs them with savory prosciutto, tomatoes, and almonds.
Strawberries, blueberries, and peaches add sweetness, vitamins, and phytonutrients to this salad. Tossed with protein-rich quinoa and spinach, the result is a seriously nutrient-dense meal.
You can make Erin Parekh’s hearty beet-lentil salad with either arugula or kale, but definitely stick to the caper-walnut combo for maximum flavor and crunch.
You can’t go wrong with a classic grilled chicken salad. Lean protein plus veggies like cucumbers and carrots equals a simple, nutritious meal that will soon become a dinner staple.
Got a grill? According to Saveur, grilling sweetens the watermelon, crisps the shrimp, and adds smokiness to the avocado. Refreshing cucumber and summer herbs like basil and mint add fresh flavor that can’t be beat.
This Mediterranean-inspired salad includes the expected tomatoes, cucumbers, and protein-rich chickpeas, but it also comes with broccoli rabe, an often-ignored green veggie that’s loaded with vitamins, fiber, and iron.
What does summer on the water look like on a plate? Tomatoes, corn, and crab are tossed with a tart lemon-basil dressing in this Cooking Light salad. Serve it on a base of greens for a more complete meal.
11. Chef’s Salad
If you’re craving a turkey or ham sandwich, eat this instead. Asparagus and mushrooms added to a romaine base give the classic chef’s salad an upgrade.
Try this salad from The Minimalist Baker when want a hot-weather version of your favorite Mexican dish. Seasonal leafy greens and corn are tossed with quinoa, black beans, and avocado for a well-rounded meal that’s flavorful and fast.
Healthy fats and vitamin E in avocados combine with vitamin C from strawberries for an Eating Well salad with skincare benefits. Top it with grilled chicken, tofu, or tuna to turn it into a full dinner.