31 Simple Salads for Summer Picnics
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.
Summer Bean Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette
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.
Southern Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing
This fantastic salad gets a boost of flavor from a toasty roasted sweet onion and garlic dressing.
Shrimp Salad with Hominy, Arugula and Lime
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.
Fresh Snow Pea Salad with Pancetta & Pecorino
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.
Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad
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.
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.
Warm Corn Chowder Salad with Bacon and Cider Vinegar
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.
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.
Poached Shrimp, Melon and Frisée Salad
To make the dressing for this pretty salad, Daniel Humm takes the zesty poaching liquid for shrimp—flavored with coriander seeds, garlic, peppercorns and orange zest—and reduces it. The salad is wonderful as both a first course or a light main course.
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.
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Fried Egg
Chef Mark Broadbent upgrades the standard lemony arugula salad by topping it with grilled asparagus, butter-fried eggs—duck eggs, when available—and freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Green Mango Salad
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.
Green and Yellow Bean Salad with Ricotta Salata
Daniel Boulud’s foolproof recipe is perfect for a French picnic.
Yellow Wax Bean and Radish Salad with Cannellinis
For a crunchy, summery salad, Chris Cosentino tosses yellow wax beans, radish slivers, red onion slices, cannellini beans and fresh basil in a simple vinaigrette. To save time, you can also substitute canned cannellinis for the dried ones here.
Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese
Richard Blais garnishes his take on a caprese salad of tomato and mozzarella with pickled walnuts, made by tossing candied walnuts with a little vinegar. (Alternatively, use British pickled walnuts, available at some specialty food stores.) “The blue cheese and the celery give this dish a little ‘adultness,’” he says.
Beet Salad with Watercress and Fresh Pecorino
Seattle chef Ethan Stowell uses beets two different ways in this recipe. He roasts some of them, giving the salad a sweet flavor, and he thinly shaves the rest for a fresh, earthy crispness.
Marinated Carrot Salad with Ginger and Sesame Oil
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.
Avocado, Orange and Jicama Salad
Feta is a fun, briny addition to this salad’s Mexican mix of jicama, avocado and cilantro.
Tomato-and-Anchovy Salad with Garlic Cream
Daniel Humm varies the ingredients for this lovely appetizer depending on what he finds at the farmers’ market—on good days, beautiful heirloom tomatoes. He tosses them with briny oil-and-vinegar-marinated white anchovies, also known by the Spanish name boquerónes, which are available at the deli counter of many specialty-food stores.
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.
Chef Charles Kelsey tosses chickpeas and carrots with a deliciously unusual combination of smoked paprika, cumin 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.
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.
Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing
Melissa Rubel’s refreshingly crunchy, tangy salad makes for an excellent summer lunch or super quick dinner.
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.
Grilled Tomato Salad with Mozzarella and Unagi Sauce
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.
Okra Summer Salad
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.
Summer Chopped Salad with Quick-Pickled Vegetables
Summer Vegetable and Potato Salad with Anchovy Dressing
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.
Watermelon, Feta and Almond Salad
Chef Scott Conant likes serving summer's juiciest, sweetest watermelon just with feta, salt and crunchy toasted almonds.
Tomato, Haricots Verts and Potato Salad
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.