July 12, 2020

Creative Summer Salads in 5 Easy Steps

Summer SaladDo not get stuck in the same old salad rut. Freshen up your summer salads by following this simple 5 step formula to make your salads more interesting:

Step 1: Greens

Whether you like the peppery bite of arugula, or the crispy crunch of romaine, there are many greens and herbs to try beyond the basic iceberg lettuce. Spring green mixes, veggie slaws, Spinach, kale, radicchio, or cabbages can all be used as the base for summer salads. Do you know what else can expand your greens shopping list? Herbs like basil, parsley, and mint all make perfect accompaniments to your favorite vegetables.

Step 2: Nuts or Seeds

Whether you like cashews, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds, you can amp up the crunch of any summer salad by adding your favorite nuts or seeds. Consider adding flavoring to your nuts to mix up your flavor profile. I love roasting walnuts or pecans with honey or maple syrup and letting them “candy” with salt or cayenne pepper to give a punch to a fruit salad or Asian slaw.

Step 3: Fruits

Whether you toss blueberries or strawberries into your salad, add watermelon and fresh stone fruits, or use fruit jam as a base for a vinaigrette – fruit makes salads extra unique, and the balance of sweet can completely transform salad greens.

SaladStep 4: Cheese

Cheese in salads gives it a salty spin that can balance out the sweetness of the greens and fruit. Consider adding feta chunks or parmesan, or build a salad out of cheese itself like a beautiful knob of burrata. You can also use pulled mozzarella as a base for Caprese or serve it with grilled peaches.

Step 5: Your favorite vinaigrette

The most straightforward salad dressing mixes well with everything. The flavor profiles are fresh and bright but not overpowering, allowing the ingredients of the salad to shine through. Want a creamy dressing? Emulsify your basic vinaigrette with mayonnaise, yogurt, cream, dijon mustard, pesto, or pureed avocado. Want a Southwestern dressing for a spicy slaw? Blend in some heat with chipotle seasonings or some of the spicy sauce from the adobo chili pepper can. Feeling like an Asian slaw? Add soy sauce and peanut butter with a little sesame oil to the basic vinaigrette. No matter what the flavor profile you are going for, this base vinaigrette dressing is a hit.

Base Vinaigrette Recipe

  • 1 part acid (vinegar, lemon or lime juice)
  • 3 parts oil (olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, sesame oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (soy sauce can stand in for salt)

Shake in a mason jar, puree in a blender, or quickly whisk with a fork.

Simple Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Try some of my favorite 5-step salad combinations to jazz up your summer salads and eat more vegetables. You can always top with a grilled protein or add a baguette and some cheese to make a well-rounded and heartier meal.




Fruits & Vegetables



Basil Pine Nuts Tomato Burrata


Olive Oil, Lemon, Pesto
Spring Mix Almond Slices Snap Peas, Clementine’s Mandarin Oranges Goat Cheese Olive Oil, Lemon

Dijon Mustard

Shredded Cabbage

And Mint

Peanuts Radishes, Snap Peas  Edamame Parmesan Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Lime juice, Peanut Butter
Spinach Toasted Walnuts Strawberries Goat Cheese Olive Oil, Lemon

And Mint

Sunflower Seeds Watermelon Feta Olive Oil



(Try it Grilled)

Pine Nuts Cherry tomato halves Parmesan Olive Oil, Garlic, Lemon juice
Parsley leaves

Mint Leaves

Almond Slivers Cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers cut into half-moons Feta Chunks Olive Oil


Spring Mix Walnuts Grilled Peaches Blue Cheese Olive Oil, Orange juice

Lemon Juice

Spinach Toasted Walnuts Blueberries Chunked Aged Cheddar Olive Oil, Lemon

Dijon Mustard


Mint, Basil

Crushed Peanuts Radishes, Carrots, Edamame Grated Parmesan Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Lime juice
Mint Cashews Broccoli Slaw, Craisins Parmesan shreds Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Lime juice

Check out all my recipes here.