23 Simple Salads for Summer Picnics

Tomato, Haricots Verts and Potato Salad
Photo: CON POULOS

Light, fresh, and seasonal, these filling salads will be the star of any picnic. Just make sure to bring lots of baguette and wine, of course.

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Summer Bean Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

Summer Bean Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette
Eva Kolenko

Potlikker, as it's called in the South, is the savory, starchy liquid left over after cooking beans or greens. Here, chef Joe Kindred whisks the über-flavor liquid into a vinaigrette, but you can also use it in soups and pasta sauces, or thicken it with butter and drizzle over fish.

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Southern Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing

Southern Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing
Con Poulos

This fantastic salad gets a boost of flavor from a toasty roasted sweet onion and garlic dressing.

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Shrimp Salad with Hominy, Arugula and Lime

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© Sarah Bolla

With similar ingredients you'd find wrapped up in taco, this brightly colored shrimp salad is light but satisfying. Enjoy with chips and beer on a hot day.

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Fresh Snow Pea Salad with Pancetta & Pecorino

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Daniel Humm's terrific summer salad is crisp and lemony, with bits of meaty pancetta and lots of fresh mint. Since the snow peas aren't cooked, it's best to buy them super-fresh, preferably from a farmers market.

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Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad

Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad
© John Kernick

Grilling the bread for this panzanella (bread salad) adds a slight smokiness and crunch. Marinate the tomatoes ahead of time so all you have to do is grill the bread and assemble the salad to serve.

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Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries and Almonds

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries and Almonds

This salad is an extraordinary combination of ingredients that wouldn't seem to go together: feta, strawberries, and almonds.

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Warm Corn Chowder Salad with Bacon and Cider Vinegar

Warm Corn Chowder Salad with Bacon and Cider Vinegar. Photo © Fredrika Stjärne
© Fredrika Stjärne

In this riff on corn chowder, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell toss corn, potatoes and bacon with cider vinegar. They grow at least five varieties of sweet corn each summer, and they're always coming up with new ways to use it. Because the corn for this salad is barely cooked, it's best to use the juiciest kernels available.

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Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Ricotta Crostini

Crunchy Vegetable Salad with Ricotta Crostini

Michael White's fennel-and-asparagus salad uses a variety of herbs, including chervil and lemon balm, but it's equally delightful here made with just basil and tarragon.

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Heirloom Tomato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

This warm, garlicky anchovy dressing here is fantastic with an assortment of juicy, peak-season tomatoes. To finish the dish, Amelia O'Reilly and Nico Monday top it with tangy pickled shallots and an oozy, soft-boiled egg.

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Green Mango Salad

Green Mango Salad
© Maura McEvoy

The mangoes in this jalapeño-spiced salad are full of vitamin C. Be sure to use firm, underripe fruit: They add an essential tang to the recipe.

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Marinated Carrot Salad with Ginger and Sesame Oil

Grilled Carrot Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette
© Anna Williams

Grilling concentrates the sweet flavor of fresh baby carrots. (Bagged "baby" carrots will never taste the same.) Bryce Gilmore marinates them, then tosses them with a wonderful and unusual dressing he makes by cooking butter until brown, then pureeing it with marcona almonds and sherry vinegar.

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Avocado, Orange and Jicama Salad

Avocado, Orange and Jicama Salad

Feta is a fun, briny addition to this salad's Mexican mix of jicama, avocado and cilantro.

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Warm Summer Vegetable Salad

Warm Summer Vegetable Salad

In this hearty salad, chef Marco Canora cooks the vegetables until their flavor is fully developed before tossing them with a pungent anchovy dressing.

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Carrot-and-Chickpea Salad

Carrot-and-Chickpea Salad

Chef Charles Kelsey tosses chickpeas and carrots with a deliciously unusual combination of smoked paprika, cumin and cilantro.

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Charred Corn Salad with Mint, Parsley and Cilantro

Charred Corn Salad with Mint, Parsley and Cilantro

London chef Yotam Ottolenghi created this quick corn-and-herb salad that's delicious alongside grilled meats.

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Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto

Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto is peppery and bright. The trick is to blanch the arugula and squeeze it dry, so when you blend it with the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and cheese, the resulting pesto isn't too wet.

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Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing
CHRISTINA HOLMES

Melissa Rubel's refreshingly crunchy, tangy salad makes for an excellent summer lunch or super quick dinner.

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Pea Shoot and Arugula Salad with Radishes and Hazelnuts

Pea Shoot and Arugula Salad with Radishes and Hazelnuts

With their sweet, mild pea flavor and their juicy stems, pea shoots are becoming a popular salad addition. Here, they're the perfect foil for sharp arugula and radishes, herbal fennel and toasty hazelnuts.

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Grilled Tomato Salad with Mozzarella and Unagi Sauce

Grilled Tomato Salad with Mozzarella and Unagi Sauce
JOHN KERNICK

Chicago chef Stephanie Izard makes the ultimate summer salad with a creamy version of sweet-salty Japanese unagi sauce, which is typically brushed over eel.

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Okra Summer Salad

Okra Summer Salad
© Emily Farris

This hearty salad features some of summer's most bountiful crops: okra, tomatoes and sweet corn straight from the cob, with black beans, onion and avocado. Canned beans and an easy dressing make preparation quick and easy.

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Summer Chopped Salad with Quick-Pickled Vegetables

Summer Chopped Salad with Quick-Pickled Vegetables

Paul Newman, the late co-owner of Dressing Room, Michel Nischan's restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, loved a good chopped salad. To add a tangy burst of flavor, Nischan pickles the carrots, celery and peppers before tossing them with the rest of the salad.

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Summer Vegetable and Potato Salad with Anchovy Dressing

Summer Vegetable and Potato Salad with Anchovy Dressing
© Quentin Bacon

This colorful salad of green and yellow beans and waxy potatoes reminds Jonathan Benno of his brief stint in the kitchen at Al Di La, a wildly popular Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. His friend Anna Klinger, the chef and co-owner, taught him how to make this deliciously tangy dressing, a mix of anchovies, poached garlic and olive oil.

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Tomato, Haricots Verts and Potato Salad

Tomato, Haricots Verts and Potato Salad
CON POULOS

This rustic Italian salad is a great way to showcase perfect, in-season produce. Swap out the summer tomatoes and green beans for roasted root vegetables and fennel in the winter, or asparagus and shaved artichokes in the spring ⁠— the possibilities are endless.

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