Our top 20 salad recipes to keep you going through summer

·27 min read
A standout caprese starts with great fruit – in this case, nectarines  (Getty/iStock)
A standout caprese starts with great fruit – in this case, nectarines (Getty/iStock)

Summer has many charms – the sun lingers late and vegetables and fruit taste so good, they don’t take much effort to turn into delicious, satisfying dishes. Thankfully, fresh produce hasn’t risen in price as much as other ingredients this year and is especially flavourful now.

We’ve given you loose formulas for 20 of our favorite combinations. Buy whatever looks and smells the most enticing (and costs the least), then play around with the suggestions below, using amounts that make the most sense to you and your taste.

The recipes below cover all the salad bases: leafy tosses that are crisp and fresh; sturdy mixes that can sit out for a couple hours or be made the day before; hearty pastas, grains and beans that can bulk up – or make – a meal; fruit combinations that hit sweet and savoury.

Go ahead and make these your own. Swap out bitter lettuces for milder ones, use a variety of fruits instead of just one kind, go wild with the herbs or banish them (hey, coriander!). Season to taste – salt heightens flavours, tames bitterness and balances out sweetness and acidity, while pepper adds a floral bite. Whatever you do, don’t sweat it. It’s summertime, and the cooking should be easy.

Leafy salads

Crunchy greens with carrot-ginger dressing

This recipe draws inspiration from the sunny-orange flavour of green salads with carrot-ginger dressing at Japanese American restaurants. The pulpy, aromatic dressing may be the star, but a salad is only as good as its lettuce. After washing and thoroughly spin-drying the greens in a salad spinner (alternatively, you can pat them dry in a clean kitchen towel), one way to maximise their crunch before adding the dressing is to refrigerate them, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Little Gem has a sweet, juicy sturdiness, but regular packaged mixed greens, baby spinach and chopped romaine hearts work, too.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 2 to 4

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 (2½cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

60ml extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1½ tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp onion powder

Salt

2 to 4 heads Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated, or 1 romaine heart, chopped

60g fresh mint leaves

Method:

1. Make the dressing: in a food processor, purée the carrot, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, onion powder, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon cold water until as smooth as possible, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Dress the salad: place the lettuce leaves in a large serving bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of the dressing and toss, then add more as needed to evenly coat. The salad should be lightly dressed, not drowned; don’t use every drop of dressing if you don’t need to. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more salt as desired. Top the salad with the mint leaves and serve immediately.

Rocket salad with parmesan

In this salad, think of the oil and acid as seasonings for the vegetable (Getty/iStock)
In this salad, think of the oil and acid as seasonings for the vegetable (Getty/iStock)

Emulsifying a dressing isn’t essential for a sublime salad: instead, think of the oil and acid as seasonings for a vegetable. For this recipe, that’s spicy rocket, dressed with olive oil, lemon and shards of parmesan to create a salad classic in many Italian restaurants and homes. But whether olive oil or lemon should come first, like all seemingly simple questions, is complicated. James Beard, Marcella Hazan, Deborah Madison and Judy Rodgers all concurred: for a brighter-tasting salad, start with olive oil, which better adheres the liquids to the greens and doesn’t obscure the lemon. Be sure to use full-flavoured greens, then taste the dressed leaves and adjust seasonings until the rocket tastes like its greatest self.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

115-140g baby rocket

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed

Salt

60g parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Method:

1. Place the arugula in a very large bowl, ideally one that could hold twice as many leaves. Drizzle over the olive oil and use your hands to toss lightly, then add the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Lightly toss the greens until they are evenly glossy; avoid overmixing or crushing the greens.

2. Add the Parmesan and toss just to incorporate. Taste. If the salad is too sharp, add another drop of oil and toss. If the salad is dull, add a sprinkle of salt and some lemon juice and toss. Eat right away.

Radicchio caesar salad

This fragrant take on caesar salad uses up an entire tin of anchovies and replaces the sweet romaine with gloriously bitter radicchio. For the dressing: though you could use a raw egg yolk and slowly stream in oil while whisking constantly, relying on the already emulsifying qualities of shop-bought mayonnaise gets you to creamy heights with less fuss. This salad does not keep well, so serve it immediately, while the radicchio is still plump and crunchy. There’s no added salt in this recipe, as the many anchovies season both the breadcrumbs and the dressing. But should your radicchio be especially bitter – pleasant though that flavour can be – feel free to add a pinch of salt to help tame the bitterness.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 2

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (60g) tin flat anchovy fillets packed in olive oil

30g coarse or panko breadcrumbs

1 garlic clove, finely grated

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp finely grated parmesan, plus more for topping

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large head or 2 small heads radicchio (450g), any wilted outer leaves removed, quartered lengthwise, cored and leaves separated

Method:

1. Prepare the breadcrumbs: add all of the anchovy oil from the tin (about 2 tablespoons) to a large frying pan. Transfer the anchovies from their tin to a cutting board, draining them well. Finely chop 2 anchovies and add to the pan, then turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the anchovies, stirring occasionally, until they start to sizzle, about 1 minute. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and toasted, 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

2. Make the dressing: set aside 4 anchovies (for garnish later) and finely chop the rest (there should be about 6). Add the chopped anchovies to a large bowl, along with the garlic, olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and parmesan. Season generously with pepper and whisk to combine.

3. Dress the salad: add the radicchio leaves to the dressing and toss. The salad should be lightly dressed, not thickly caked. Taste for acidity, adjusting with more lemon juice if your radicchio is especially bitter. Transfer to a large plate, piling the leaves high. Top with a final grating of parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and garnish with the remaining anchovies. Serve immediately.

Chicken and herb salad with nuoc cham

Nuoc cham gives this simple, satisfying salad a salty-sweet finish (Getty/iStock)
Nuoc cham gives this simple, satisfying salad a salty-sweet finish (Getty/iStock)

Nuoc cham, a Vietnamese sauce bright with lime juice and chilli, is tossed into this simple, satisfying salad to give it a salty-sweet finish. Thinly sliced bell pepper and shaved cabbage provide crunch, while meat pulled from a shop-bought rotisserie chicken – or any leftover chicken – soaks up the dressing. Serve this by itself, or alongside steamed rice or room-temperature cooked rice vermicelli.

By: Yewande Komolafe

Serves: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bird’s-eye chilli or other small hot chilli, minced with seeds

60ml fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

3 tbsp fish sauce

340g chicken meat (pulled from shop-bought rotisserie chicken or roast chicken)

180g thinly sliced red or green cabbage

1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 medium bell pepper (any colour), thinly sliced

115g peppery leafy greens, such as watercress with tender stems, rocket or mizuna

60g Thai or sweet basil leaves

60g mint leaves

90g crispy fried shallots or onions, shop-bought or homemade

Method:

1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and 60ml water. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add the garlic, chilli, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir to combine.

2. Add the chicken, cabbage, cucumbers and bell pepper to the dressing. Toss to coat. Add the leafy greens and the basil and mint leaves. Toss to combine.

3. Divide the salad among bowls, garnish with the crispy shallots and serve immediately.

Chopped salad

This chopped salad has all the textures in just the right proportions (Getty/iStock)
This chopped salad has all the textures in just the right proportions (Getty/iStock)

A good chopped salad is a buoyant mix of different textures (creamy, crisp, crunchy, juicy), a range of colours, and sweet, salty and tangy flavours. This one has it all, in just the right proportions. You can gather all the ingredients in advance, including cooking the bacon and the eggs. But don’t toss everything together until just before serving – and, preferably, do so at the table for maximum impact.

By: Melissa Clark

Serves: 6 to 8

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lemon

80ml extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 romaine hearts (about 450g), trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces

180g cherry tomatoes, halved

170g chopped cooked bacon

90g thinly sliced cucumber

125g crumbled blue cheese or feta

25g thinly sliced spring onions

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced

2 hard-cooked (or jammy) eggs, quartered

Method:

1. Make the dressing: sest the lemon into a small bowl, then halve the naked lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Whisk in oil and season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Put the romaine into a large bowl, then top with tomatoes, bacon, cucumber, blue cheese and spring onions. Drizzle in about two thirds of the dressing, then toss until well coated.

3. Place sliced avocado and eggs on top of salad, and season lightly with salt and pepper (especially the avocado, which can take a lot of salt). Drizzle salad with remaining dressing, and serve.

Sturdy salads

Corn salad with tomatoes, basil and coriander

The perfect salad for high summer produce (Getty)
The perfect salad for high summer produce (Getty)

High summer produce comes together in this simple mix, tangy with lime juice and full of fresh herbs. Even in the height of the season, corn gets a touch sweeter when heated, and the easiest way to do it is in the microwave. It takes just a few minutes to zap the corn cobs in their husks, which makes them easy to shuck. The silks will slip right off the sweeter and still-crisp corn. Picking basil and coriander leaves by hand then tearing them right over the salad keeps their delicate fragrance intact. Serve this with anything off the grill or alongside tacos or sandwiches.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

5 ears of corn

300g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 lime

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

¼ tsp minced seeded fresh habanero or other very hot chilli (optional)

30g fresh basil leaves

15g fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Microwave the corn in their husks on high for 3 minutes. Shuck the corn – the silks will come off easily (if you want to boil or steam the corn on the stovetop, you can shuck the corn first then cook just until brighter in colour, 2 to 3 minutes). Cut the kernels off the cobs, transfer them to a large bowl and add the tomatoes.

2. Finely grate the zest of the lime directly over the corn mixture, then squeeze the juice from the lime all over. Add the oil, a generous pinch of salt and the chilli, if using. Mix well, then tear the herbs over the salad and gently fold them in. Season to taste with salt and serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Crunchy kale salad with plums and dates

Kale salad has passed whatever nebulous test there is of food fads and become a mainstay, especially in the autumn, but it’s ideal for summer, too, because it doesn’t wilt in the heat. If anything, you want to be sure to crush the finely sliced greens until they’re droopy. Kale salad can feel like a chore to chew if the greens aren’t softened sufficiently, so massage them into submission. To add a welcome, easy crunch to the tender leaves, this salad is littered with roasted, salted sunflower seeds. They’re a savoury contrast to tangy wedges of juicy plums and chewy, sweet dates in the lemony mix that holds up well on any picnic table and for up to 3 days in the fridge.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 large bunch kale (450g), stems discarded, leaves finely sliced

1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

8 pitted dates

3 ripe but firm plums or pluots

70g roasted salted sunflower seeds

60ml roasted walnut oil or olive oil

Method:

1. Place the kale in a large bowl and finely grate the lemon zest directly over the greens. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice all over, straining out the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then use your hands to mix and massage the kale, squeezing handfuls of the greens until they’re all softened. Let stand while you prepare the fruit.

2. Chop the dates. Cut the plums into wedges, discarding the pits, then cut each wedge in half crosswise. Toss the dates and plums with the kale, along with the sunflower seeds and walnut oil, until well mixed. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Tuna salad with hot and sweet peppers

Inspired by the oil-and-vinegar tuna salads of the Mediterranean, this version includes new-world peppers. Letting thin slices of hot and sweet peppers sit with vinegar and salt for a few minutes gives them a pickled taste without taking away their crispness. It also makes for a sharp dressing when mixed with the olive oil from oil-packed tuna. Celery and parsley bring freshness to this blend, which is wonderful on its own and versatile enough to be spooned over toast or tossed with lettuce or pasta.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 hot green chilli, such as serrano, seeded if desired, thinly sliced

1½ tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper

2 celery stalks

2 (140g) cans or 1 (200-225g) jar tuna packed in olive oil

15g fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Method:

1. Toss the pepper and the chilli with the vinegar and a big pinch of salt in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the celery into ½cm dice.

2. Add the celery, tuna with all of its oil and chopped parsley to the peppers. Toss until the tuna flakes into bite-size pieces and everything is well mixed, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Green bean and tofu salad with peanut dressing

Inspired by the combination of peanut sauce with vegetables in southeast Asia, found in dishes such as gado gado in Indonesia and summer rolls in Vietnam, this streamlined salad would work just as well as a vegetarian main dish to eat with rice or noodles. The green beans are cooked for only a short while so that they stay crunchy. If you prefer floppy beans, you can cook them longer. And if you want something more refreshing and don’t want to turn on the stove, you can skip the beans altogether and use cut up cucumbers and tomatoes instead.

By: Genevieve Ko

Serves: 4

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Salt

60g crunchy peanut butter

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for sprinkling

340g green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

1 (400g) box extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 2½cm cubes

Method:

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, stir the peanut butter, hoisin, lime juice, sugar and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons boiling water from the saucepan to the peanut dressing and stir well. The dressing should be runny but still thick. If needed, stir in another tablespoon boiling water.

2. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until brighter in colour and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well, rinse under cold water until cool, then drain again. Transfer the green beans and tofu to the peanut dressing and stir gently until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt, then sprinkle with more red-pepper flakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Prawn salad

Using plenty of lemon is the secret to this pasta salad (Getty/iStock)
Using plenty of lemon is the secret to this pasta salad (Getty/iStock)

Using plenty of lemon – both the zest and juice – is the secret to this tangy, creamy prawns salad. If you’re using this to make sandwiches, chop the prawns into pieces before adding them to the dressing. You can also leave the prawns whole for an elegant salad, served with lettuce, avocado, and other vegetables if you like. If you’re starting with precooked prawns, you can skip the first step entirely.

By: Melissa Clark

Serves: 2 to 4

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons

450g shelled large prawns

60g mayonnaise

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

50g diced celery

12g diced red onion

15g chopped fresh dill, parsley or coriander (or a combination)

Lettuce, avocado or other vegetables, for serving (optional)

Method:

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a simmer. Slice one of the lemons and add to the pot, along with the prawns. Simmer, never letting the water boil if you can help it, until the prawns turn opaque, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on their size. Drain well, and discard the lemon slices. If you like, you can chop the cooked prawns into smaller pieces.

2. Grate the zest from the remaining lemon into a large bowl. Halve the naked lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Whisk in the mayonnaise and oil.

3. Add the celery, onion, herbs and cooked prawns, tossing to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve with lettuce and avocado, if you like.

Pasta, grain and bean salads

Pasta salad

This pasta salad has everything you could want (Getty)
This pasta salad has everything you could want (Getty)

This pasta salad has everything you could want in the bowl: loads of ripe tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella, sliced olives, salami and plenty of fresh green herbs, all tossed in a garlicky, oregano-spiked red wine vinaigrette. Serve it the same day it’s made for the brightest flavour and best texture.

By: Melissa Clark

Serves: 8 to 10

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

3 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

80ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

For the pasta:

450g short-cut pasta, such as farfalle

300g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

225g mozzarella, cubed (or use small mozzarella balls)

115g sliced salami, cut into ½cm ribbons

135g sliced Kalamata olives

60g thinly sliced cucumber

3 tbsp diced red onion

60g coarsely chopped fresh parsley and basil leaves

Method:

1. Make the dressing: combine vinegar, garlic, oregano and a big pinch each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in oil; taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as needed. Set aside.

2. Prepare the pasta: Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until the pasta is al dente. Drain well, transfer to the large bowl, and toss with the dressing while still warm. –

3. Add tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, olives, cucumber and onion to the bowl and toss well; fold in herbs. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and vinegar, if you like.

4. Drizzle with olive oil and top with cracked black pepper just before serving.

Orzo salad with lentils and courgette

A vibrant yet substantial summer salad (Getty/iStock)
A vibrant yet substantial summer salad (Getty/iStock)

The key to vibrant yet substantial summer salads is to mix raw and cooked ingredients and incorporate as many textures as possible. This one achieves that abundance in a streamlined manner by cooking lentils and orzo together in one pot. Start with the lentils, then add the orzo partway through cooking so both become tender at once (you can do the same with any boiling ingredients). The chewy orzo and velvety lentils then meet crisp, raw courgette, crunchy nuts, and the pep of pickled peppers, spring onions, lemon and a whole lot of fresh herbs – none of which requires more than a little chopping from you. Eat this protein-rich salad on its own, or add soft-boiled eggs, tinned fish, feta or pecorino, as you wish.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

Salt

200g green or brown lentils

225g orzo

120ml extra-virgin olive oil

60ml lemon juice (from 2 lemons)

60ml sliced pickled pepperoncini (about 6 to 8 peppers)

Black pepper

450g courgette or summer squash, or a combination, preferably small to medium, trimmed

80g raw pistachios or walnuts, coarsely chopped

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

60g firmly packed whole herb leaves, such as basil, mint, dill, parsley, tarragon, oregano or a mix

Method:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 9 minutes, then add the orzo and cook until the lentils and orzo are cooked through but not mushy, another 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice and pepperoncini. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. If using small or medium courgette, halve them lengthwise, then slice crosswise into ½cm-thick half-moons (if using large courgette, quarter them lengthwise first, then slice crosswise into ½cm-thick triangles). Add to the dressing and stir to combine.

3. Drain the lentils and orzo very well, then add to the zucchini, along with the pistachios and spring onions. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs just before serving. Eat warm or at room temperature. (Salad keeps, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature and adjust seasonings before eating.)

Toasted millet salad with cucumber, avocado and lemon

Toasting grains first really deepens their flavour (Getty)
Toasting grains first really deepens their flavour (Getty)

Cooked millet has a taste and aroma that’s subtly reminiscent of raw hazelnuts, and as with hazelnuts, toasting millet first really deepens its flavour. If you want to work ahead, toast and cook the millet, set aside and toss in the other ingredients when ready. Sharp mint leaves, creamy avocado, crisp cucumbers and bright lemon really round out this dish, which makes a lovely side dish, an afternoon snack or the base of a protein-focused grain bowl. Millet is marvelous, but a wide variety of grains will work just as well.

By: Yewande Komolafe

Serves: 4

Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling

Ingredients:

120ml millet or other grains, such as barley, farro, brown rice or kasha

Salt

60ml olive oil

1 tbsp lemon zest plus 60ml juice

1 tbsp honey

Black pepper

450g English or Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise into 1½cm spears, then cut crosswise into 5cm pieces

60g mint leaves

30g sliced almonds (optional)

1 avocado, pitted and sliced into quarters

Method:

1. To a small pot set over medium heat, add the millet and toast, swirling the pan constantly until the grains begin to crackle, become fragrant and deepen in colour to a deep tan, about 10 minutes.

2. Turn heat to low and carefully add 300ml water, season with salt, bring to a simmer and cook, partly covered, until the millet is softened, about 15 minutes. Remove the millet from the heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and let sit covered for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and allow to cool to room temperature. You can do this step ahead and store the cooked millet in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (if using other grains, toast first, then cook according to package directions).

3. While the millet cooks, make the vinaigrette: combine the lemon zest, juice and honey in a small bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Toss the cooled millet with cucumbers, mint, almonds (if using) and half of the lemon vinaigrette; divide among bowls. Top each bowl with an avocado quarter and dress with spoonfuls of vinaigrette.

Chickpea salad with gim

The salty, nutty and gloriously savoury flavours of gim – the Korean roasted and seasoned seaweed – anchor this easy chickpea salad. Packed with umami, sheets of crisp gim are finely chopped into onyx-black confetti, speckling the sesame oil and mayonnaise-bound chickpeas (note that Japanese nori, the unseasoned sheets of seaweed used for sushi, are too dry and will not work in this recipe). As it sits, the salad absorbs the dressing and the raw red onion mellows out beautifully, which means this is an ideal contender for making ahead and lugging to picnics whenever.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp rice vinegar

Pinch of granulated sugar

Salt and black pepper

1 small red onion, finely diced

20g gim (roasted, salted seaweed), finely chopped

2 (425g) tins chickpeas, rinsed

Method:

1. To a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

2. Add the red onion, gim and chickpeas to the bowl and toss to combine.

3. Serve immediately or pack in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Rice salad with currants, almonds and pistachios

Rice salad is another terrific option to keep in mind (Getty/iStock)
Rice salad is another terrific option to keep in mind (Getty/iStock)

Summer buffets often feature potato salad and pasta salad, but rice salad, quite popular throughout the Mediterranean, is another terrific option to keep in mind. This simple one, which takes inspiration from Middle Eastern cuisine, uses pantry ingredients. It is delicious on its own with a bit of salad or with grilled chicken or fish. To keep the rice grains separate, boil the rice in a large pot of water as for pasta.

By: David Tanis

Serves: 6

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

400g short-grain rice, such as arborio

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon zest

½ cup currants, soaked in hot water and drained

150g whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped

60g whole roasted pistachios, roughly chopped

3 tbsp snipped chives

3 tbsp chopped mint

2 tsp chopped savory or thyme

12g chopped parsley

Method:

1. Bring 1.9L water to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and 2 tablespoons salt. Boil rice as you would pasta, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until done, but still al dente. Drain and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

2. Once cool, transfer rice to a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold mixture into rice.

3. Add currants, almonds, pistachios, chives, mint, savory and parsley. Toss to distribute. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice or salt as necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Classic bean salad

This salad gets even better as it sits (Getty/iStock)
This salad gets even better as it sits (Getty/iStock)

You can use any kind or combination of tinned beans to make this classic picnic salad, but a mix of white beans, chickpeas and red kidney beans makes it especially colourful. Although this is delicious when freshly made, it gets even better as it sits. If you have time, make it at least an hour or two before serving; it can rest at room temperature for up to 4 hours – but after that, slip it into the fridge. If you want to make this the day before, add the celery and parsley just before serving, so they stay crisp and green.

By: Melissa Clark

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 small shallots (or 1 large shallot), peeled

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

1 (425g) tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 (425g) tin cannellini, drained and rinsed

1 (425g) tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

50g thinly sliced celery

60g mixed coarsely chopped fresh parsley and celery leaves

Method:

1. Mince 1 shallot and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice remaining shallot and set aside.

2. Add vinegar, mustard and a pinch each salt and pepper to the bowl with minced shallot and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add chickpeas, cannellini beans, kidney beans, celery, herbs and sliced shallot to the bowl and toss until evenly coated. Taste and add more salt or vinegar. Drizzle with additional olive oil and top with more black pepper, if desired, and serve.

Sweet and savoury fruit salads

Fruit salad

A fruit salad is an act of kindness to your future self: taking the time to chop your favourite fruits, especially the more labour-intensive ones, then eating them in a large bowl by the spoonful is inordinately satisfying. This version calls for golden nuggets of pineapple, mango and bananas, a smoothie in fruit salad form, but you could use whatever you have on hand. Blueberries, strawberries and peaches would be lovely, as would sliced kiwi, pomegranate arils and clementine wedges. A spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of salt – just a pinch – make all the difference in enlivening fresh-cut fruit.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

½ ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and diced

2 slightly underripe, yellow-green bananas, peeled and thinly sliced

Pinch of salt

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed

Method:

1. In a large bowl, toss to combine the pineapple, mangos, bananas and salt. Depending on how acidic your fruit is, season with as much lemon juice as you would like, starting with 1 tablespoon.

2. Serve immediately or pack in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Stone fruit caprese

This recipe proves caprese is more about shopping than cooking (Getty/iStock)
This recipe proves caprese is more about shopping than cooking (Getty/iStock)

A standout caprese starts with great fruit. You need ripe tomatoes to weep juices, which then mingle with grassy olive oil and milky cheese to make your dressing. Basil adds freshness, black pepper and flakes of sea salt add crunch, and that’s it, a perfect combination. But if the stone fruit options are looking better than the tomatoes at the market, you can use them instead. They’re similar in flavour to tomatoes, but need cajoling to relinquish their juices. By letting sliced fruit macerate with salt, sugar and lemon juice, their fruitiness becomes more electric and their juices pool on the plate. Start with fruit you can smell and pair it with equally quality ingredients. Caprese is more about shopping than cooking.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

900g ripe but firm stone fruit (such as nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries or a mix)

1 tbsp lemon juice, plus more as needed

2 tsp granulated sugar, plus more as needed

Flaky sea salt

225g fresh mozzarella, at room temperature

About 20 basil or mint leaves, or a combination, torn if large

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Pit the stone fruit and cut into irregular pieces. Transfer to a serving platter, then sprinkle with the lemon juice, sugar and ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt. Toss with your hands, then let sit until juices pool on the platter, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust sugar, salt and lemon juice until the fruit tastes perky and bright – like the greatest stone fruit you’ve eaten.–

2. Tear the mozzarella into bite-size pieces and nestle it among the fruit. Tuck in the herb leaves. Drizzle the platter with olive oil. If the cheese looks dry, add a little more oil. Sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of flaky salt, and serve.

Mango slaw

There is something intriguing about coleslaw with mangos (Getty/iStock)
There is something intriguing about coleslaw with mangos (Getty/iStock)

There is absolutely nothing new about coleslaw, but there is something slightly intriguing about coleslaw with mangos. Often, when we think of coleslaw, we think of it as a side for fish and chips, barbecue or heavy, mayonnaise-drenched cabbage. But just think about the cool, crunchy sweetness of the cabbage, carrots and mango, paired with the spicy kick of jerk chicken. What’s a better combination? You also don’t have to serve it as a side: it can be tucked into a sandwich or wrap. One of the best things about this recipe is that all the ingredients are readily available, and there are many shortcuts you can take, like using a bagged mix. Who wants to ruin their knuckles on a box grater, or break out the food processor?

By: Millie Peartree

Makes: 3 cups

Total time: 5 minutes, plus chilling

Ingredients:

1 (225g) bag coleslaw

2 large, slightly firm mangoes (about 800g), peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tbsp honey or agave syrup

¼ tsp celery salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss with tongs or a fork to combine.

2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve cold.

Watermelon and feta salad

This refreshing zinger of a salad couldn’t be more perfect (Getty/iStock)
This refreshing zinger of a salad couldn’t be more perfect (Getty/iStock)

A take on the Mediterranean combination of watermelon and feta, this refreshing zinger of a salad couldn’t be more perfect. Unassumingly simple, the sweet melon, salty cheese and fragrant basil reach their peak when doused with white balsamic vinegar and dribbled with fruity olive oil. Rather than building tall, this salad builds wide – so use a large platter for the most dramatic presentation. Vinegared watermelon does not keep its crisp, juicy texture well, so be sure to dress it (and eat it) the moment the last basil leaf falls.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 4

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

900g seedless watermelon (without rinds), thinly sliced into large, irregular pieces

2 tbsp white or red balsamic vinegar

Salt

1 (170g) block Greek feta, thinly sliced into large, irregular pieces

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Leaves from 1 sprig basil, larger leaves torn

Method:

1. On a large platter, arrange the watermelon and douse with the vinegar. Season with salt.

2. Arrange the feta over the watermelon and drizzle over the olive oil. Season with pepper.

3. Drop the basil leaves over the watermelon and feta. Serve immediately.

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