One of our favorite things about summer is that it brings with it so many opportunities for outdoor entertaining: The warm, welcoming weather encourages casual gatherings like barbecues, picnics, and potlucks. It also encourages cravings for lighter fare–People put away their crock pots and casserole dishes in favor of outdoor grills and large mixing bowls in which to prepare fresh summer salads. Here are some of our favorite salad recipes this season, first created by talented food bloggers and now recommended girlfriend to girlfriend–perfect for packing and bringing to your next potluck or barbecue (maybe this Labor Day Weekend?) or just eating at home.
1. Marinated Peppers w/ Garbanzos, Olives & Feta by Kalyn’s Kitchen
So colorful and flavorful, this antipasto-style salad is a delightfully unexpected addition to any summer potluck. The sweet marinated peppers are definitely the highlight here; their bright colors are sure to set the dish apart from other salads on the table. Meanwhile, the briny olives and salty feta offer the perfect balance. The Mediterranean flavors make this salad a wonderful complement to kabobs and couscous–but it also works on its own as an appetizer. For the full recipe, as well as tips on how to adjust for special diets, check out www.kalynskitchen.com.
2. Roasted Edamame, Corn & Green Bean Salad by Hey, That Tastes Good!
Yes, this recipe does require you to turn on the oven–but trust us, it’s worth it. The combination of hearty beans, roasted garlic, sweet corn, fresh basil and juicy tomatoes really makes this salad something special. It makes a lovely side dish for grilled meats; however, thanks to the hearty soy protein added by the edamame, it can also stand alone as a main. This salad also keeps well for a few days, so it’s a good one to make in large batches–even if you don’t have a big party to bring it to. Store it in containers, and take it with you to work for a light and tasty lunch. Find the full recipe here: www.heythattastesgood.com.
3. BLT Panzanella by Annie’s Eats
Nothing says summer like a BLT, right? In this recipe, the classic American sandwich is turned into a salad–making it ideal for large parties and gatherings. It is essentially a deconstructed version of the favorite handheld lunch, right down to the creamy buttermilk dressing that mimics mayonnaise. The crusty, hand-torn croutons add texture, while the vine-ripened tomatoes and crisp lettuce keep the whole thing feeling fresh and healthy… Well, as healthy as anything with bacon in it can be! Check out the recipe here: annies-eats.com.
4. Quinoa Salad w/ Watermelon, Feta & Basil by How Sweet It Is
Grain salads have become all the rage lately, for a variety of reasons: They are far heartier than their mixed-green counterparts, they add fiber and nutrients, and they store well without getting soggy. That last reason, in particular, makes them perfect for summer parties as they can be made ahead and left out at room temperature for a while. This grain salad features protein-packed quinoa, as well as sweet summer watermelon, salty feta cheese, and fresh basil. The combination is surprisingly delicious, and refreshing on the hottest summer days. The full recipe along with step-by-step photographs is right here: www.howsweeteats.com.
5. Rainbow Potato Salad by Plant Food Fabulous
We couldn’t very well make a list of favorite summer salads without including a potato salad, could we? The requisite potluck addition takes a lighter turn in this pretty and tasty version by Plant Food Fabulous. It uses an array of pearl-sized potatoes in purple, red and yellow as well as fresh arugula and Kalamata olives. You won’t find the expected mayo-based dressing here; however, a light vinaigrette of olive oil and apple cider vinegar–not to mention the crunch of toasted sunflower seeds–makes this potato salad every bit as delicious as its creamier, heavier relatives. The recipe’s here: plantfoodfabulous.com.
6. Summer Kale Salad by The Nourishing Gourmet
Sometimes, you just want a simple green salad. However, when left out under the hot summer sun for hours at a time, tender salad greens tend to wilt. Enter kale, the potluck’s perfect alternative to lettuce and spinach: Kale is sturdy enough to withstand the rising temperatures of the barbecue season, and it is jam-packed with nutrients. This kale salad by the Nourishing Gourmet highlights the leafy vegetable by lightly dressing it with a zesty caper vinaigrette and adding sprouted seeds and crisp cucumber for crunchy texture. Heart-healthy avocado and hard-boiled eggs provide protein. The full recipe is over at www.thenourishinggourmet.com.
Try any of these fresh summer salad recipes, and you’re sure to be a hit at your next potluck or barbecue! In the meantime, we’d love to know–what are your go-to recipes for warm weather? Do you tend to crave cold salads, or something else altogether? Are there any food blogs that you follow, or (better yet!) recommend to your girlfriends? Please let us know in the comments below!!