Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

8 Summer Salad Recipes to Whip Up in a Pinch

8 Summer Salad Recipes to Whip Up in a Pinch
8 Summer Salad Recipes to Whip Up in a Pinch

There is nothing quite like the giddy excitement that accompanies a changing of the seasons. The local farmer’s markets are literally bursting with new produce in varying shapes, flavors, and colors that add a punch of vibrancy and excitement to my kitchen. When you hunt down the very best ingredients, your work is already halfway way done (if not more!)—all you need to do is let them shine. That’s what I love most about summer cooking: it’s less about technique and so much more about spontaneity—and letting the seasonal flavors be your guide! Just like design, food is best when you keep it simple and only ask for a squeeze of lemon, a shower of herbs, and a dusting of sea salt. This is the same approach I take when crafting my summer salad recipes, too. 

With the sweltering weather outside, the last thing any of us want to do after a hot, busy day is sweat it out over a hot stove or oven. So, a refreshing no-cook dinner you can throw together in a flash is always my go-to this time of year. Toss all your favorite sun-ripened ingredients together, whisk up a delicious dressing, and serve with a refreshing drink. Cheers to that!  

HONEYDEW FENNEL AND CAPER BERRY SALAD

In high summer, melons are amazingly sweet and refreshing—so why reserve them for snacks? To lend the fruit some savory glory, I used one of my favorite tricks: pickling. The pickled shallots in this recipe have a sublime impact on the honeydew, and the cooling fennel helps to beat the heat of the serrano, while also offering a fresh crunch. The final surprise: caper berries, which add a uniquely briny touch. To ensure your melon is ripe, follow your nose: The fruit should smell sweet and slightly floral.

QUINOA TABBOULLEH WITH NECTARINES AND HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

As you’ve likely noticed by now, I’m a sweet and savory gal. One of my favorite ways to play with that dichotomy is by adding fruit to my salads. In high summer, there’s no better combination than nectarines and heirloom tomatoes. The two are such a good match, in fact, that I’ve been making a version of this salad regularly for years. When sprinkled with a little salt, the nectarines take on a whole new identity—one that perfectly complements the acidity of the tomatoes, the sting of the habaneros, and vibrant flavor of the herbs.

SUMMER SQUASH SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND FETA

It’s sweltering outside, you’ve been running around all day, and now you just need a refreshing dish you can throw together in a flash. That’s where this salad comes in. Not only is it my no-cook solution for hot, busy nights, it also happens to be one of my favorite ways to showcase summer squash. Here, the star veggie is served raw, sliced into skinny strips, and paired with peppery arugula and salty feta cheese. And that hint of unexpected flavor? That’s thanks to the dressing, which uses every part of the lemon except the seeds. The combination of rind and pith lends a mild, pleasing bitterness, making this salad not quite as simple as it seems.

 

Charred and Raw Corn Salad with Tomatillo Relish 

Prepping corn is one of my favorite ways to get everyone involved with cooking: My yard is often filled with kids shucking poolside as reggae blasts from speakers on the deck. In Amagansett, we buy ours by the bushel from Balsam Farms. It never needs butter or salt, and we often eat it raw or charred on the grill. This salad lets you have it both ways.

The recipe came about almost by accident. I was making tomatillo salsa and had no idea that tomatillos are supposed to be roasted first. I chopped them up raw and let them macerate in vinegar with some scallions—and I was blown away by the delicious result. I tossed the salsa with some corn as a little taste test, and just like that, a salad was born!

 

Peaches and Burrata with Pickled Shallot

I spend summer in a sweet, peachy haze. These super-juicy suckers without doubt have a hold on me. Ridiculously aromatic and so tender at the height of the season, the fruit is almost seductive. This modern Caprese salad is a love letter to those golden jewels. In this dish, sweet and tangy pickled shallots mingle with ripe peaches and burrata, the creamiest cheese known to man. The result is intensely satisfying and super simple to throw together!

A note on the herbs: I used purple opal basil, as it was abundant at the farm stand and so visually arresting, but it is certainly not essential to the dish. Standard green basil will offer the same herbaceous flavor.

 

CUCUMBER, PEACH AND AVOCADO SALAD

Cucumbers, local peaches, pickled onion, feta, and jalapeno come together in this recipe, creating a bright salad that simply offers it all. This dish brings the crunch, brine, sweetness, and heat—the four tenets I hold so dearly in my cooking. It also packs an unexpected punch of earthy Egyptian flavor thanks to my à la minute spice of choice these days, dukkah. This is an easy one, swooners, so you, too, can make it on autopilot on any given summer day!

CANTALOUPE & CUCUMBER SALAD WITH RICOTTA SALATA

Summer cantaloupe, crunchy cucumber, and premium olive oil are the stars here. Where sweet fruit flavors unite with crisp veg, and all is unified with the bright green and peppery finish of the organic extra virgin olive oil. I used Marcona almonds for added texture and some Mediterranean spice—making the sum greater than its parts! This is my love letter to Italy—a savory salad I’ll be making all summer long.

A ZIPPY ASPARAGUS & BURRATA SALAD

When I swoon, I swoon hard. I buy asparagus a minimum of three times per week this time of year. I can’t stop, won’t stop on these farm stand staples. The skinny ones are my jam. They’re just the way I like ‘em—perky, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed, and they’re in absolute abundance on the East End of Long Island at the moment.

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