Scrumptious Summer Salad Combos You Won’t Want to Miss

by Alexandra Liles, CHOP5 Wellness Blogger

Girl holding watermelon in the blue pool, slim legs, instagram style. Tropical fruit diet. Summer holiday idyllic.

The summer solstice may have been at the end of June, but if you’re like me, the true kickoff to summer is the start of July. Every year, come July, I find myself cooking less and preparing colder or room temperature meals. With so much produce in season this time of year, salads can take the main stage!

Summertime is the season of sharing food for me, be it at a barbeque, impromptu potluck or a poolside picnic. I have found that people get together more often over the summer and are more likely to spontaneously stop by to share a meal, so I like to have a few summer salad recipes up my sleeve. Having a quick and delicious salad recipe (or several) on hand is key to keeping summer mealtimes easy, fun and nutritious.

Below are some fun summer salad combinations to help inspire you as you plan your next summer picnic, party or easy, breezy weeknight meal when the summer heat hits. Most of these ingredients can be prepared and combined ahead of time and actually taste even better together given time to marinate in their own flavors.

Watermelon and cucumber make a refreshingly satisfying combination and your choice of herbs add a unique flair to this salad.

Try deseeding your cucumbers by cutting them in half lengthwise and taking a spoon to the middle to remove the watery seed bits. Then, place your cucumber cut-side down and cut them into half-moons. Toss your cucumber pieces with small chunks of watermelon and add a bit of salty feta cheese and herbs of your choice. I love fresh basil or dill with this combo. CHOP5 has a Watermelon Chop Salad on their menu this summer that highlights this delicious combination. CHOP5’s salad is tossed with spring mix, kale, napa cabbage, watermelon, cucumbers, sunflower seeds and their house made strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. Yum!

Fennel and orange might be my favorite flavor combination of the moment.

I love thinly sliced fennel doused in orange juice with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. If you have a mandolin, preparing the fennel for this salad is super quick. Don’t throw away those fennel fronds either– the top bits that look like dill make a great garnish and add the faintest hint of licorice to each bite. Add some bright green Castelvetrano olives and thinly sliced shallots to this mixture and you’ll have a crowd pleaser for sure. This salad tastes great over a bed of arugula, making the salad an antioxidant and Vitamin C powerhouse.

Heirloom tomato and sweet onion slices is a super nostalgic combination for me that never fails to remind me of summertime.

I remember my grandmother would often grab a basket full of plump tomatoes, still warm from the sun in her garden, slice them up and toss them with thinly sliced sweet yellow onions, salt and pepper, and olive oil to serve alongside any meal, no matter the time of day. This combination truly tastes better the longer it sits as the onion slices have time to marinate in the juices from the tomatoes. I love this combination on its own, but it also works well over a bed of mixed greens. I highly recommend some crusty bread on the side to sop up your onion and tomato juices when you’re done.

Shaved carrots, garlic and cumin are all you need for a savory summer side salad.

Carrots are harvested in Ohio from July through September, so take advantage of the summertime bounty while you can and get your hands on some fresh carrots. Instead of chopping them up, use a vegetable peeler to peel long ribbons. Add these to a bowl with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of ground cumin or cumin seeds. Whisk up a bit of olive oil and a splash of white wine vinegar with a clove of grated garlic, then drizzle the oil over your carrot ribbons and enjoy! This slaw-adjacent salad makes for a great sandwich topping, too. Try it in place of lettuce the next time you make sandwiches to take to the park.

Cucumber, chilis and roasted peanuts come together for a fun and unexpectedly addictive flavor combination.

My mom asks for this salad every time we get together! Opt for the small Persian cucumbers for this salad and try adding in thinly sliced red onions. Instead of tossing with lettuce, try using a bunch of roughly chopped fresh cilantro for your greens in this salad. You can find the full recipe here, including a sweet and sour vinaigrette.

Grilled corn and diced jalapenos make an excellent combination for a Mexican street corn-inspired summer side salad.

Repurpose your leftover corn from your next barbeque by carefully cutting the kernels off the cob. Toss these together with your jalapeno, some chopped green onions, cilantro, a minced clove of garlic and some feta cheese. Squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle a bit of salt and smoked paprika on top and you have yourself a tasty topping for your next taco bowl. Try this salad over a mix of chopped kale and napa cabbage with black beans. This combination pairs well with CHOP5’s Chipotle Ranch dressing, too!

Sugar snap peas, radishes and mint could be one of the most refreshingly light salads you’ll have all summer.

I love using a mandolin to get super thin slices of radishes for this. Trim the ends off the snap peas, then cut each pod into thin strips. Toss your radishes and peas together with some fresh mint and serve over a dollop of ricotta with a drizzle of CHOP5’s balsamic vinaigrette and you have yourself a delicious lunch or dinner salad!

I’ll leave you with some final summertime salad pro tips – if you do decide to prep any of these ahead of time, hold off on mixing in your leafy greens until you are ready to eat. When it comes time to dishing them out, pick a leafy green of your choice; whether it’s baby kale, spinach, romaine, arugula or a mix; grab a handful or two of your greens, portion out your summer salad mixture to top it off, and voila! If you are serving up a platter for a larger group, aim for a handful of greens per person and add these salad combo toppings until the greens are dressed to your liking.

Lastly, don’t stress about the salad dressing; you can easily make your own by combining three parts olive oil with one part acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice), a pinch of salt, and any additional herbs and spices of your choosing. Or keep it simple and next time you find yourself at a CHOP5, pick up a catering size salad dressing to take home.

Here’s to a happy summer of enjoying the diverse bounty of the season!