Salads at 4th of July cookouts and summer picnics tend to fall into a few worn-out categories. Mayo-laden potato salad. Greasy pasta salad. Maybe a tomato salad if you're lucky. Salads and side dishes get short shrift next to the blazing grill and charcoal taste of those cheeseburgers, or the splendor of the blueberry flag cake. Well, that shouldn't be so. Here are 15 summer salads that offer delicious summer taste, and something fresh, something new for your summer picnic table.
The other benefit to many of these salads is that they don't involve a lot of mayonnaise. Many don't even have dairy! This is safer for salads that will be sitting out in the heat; mayonnaise and sunny picnic tables just shouldn't go together, at least not for very long. Most of these salads opt for olive oil or yogurt instead of mayo, and they all will hold up just fine in the summer heat.
Fresh Picnic Salads
• Sweet and Savory Wild Rice Salad - Crunchy with red pepper and cucumbers, savory with wild rice and chives, sweet with dates, zesty with lime and orange juice.
• Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Fontina - Carrots, mushrooms, gooey cheese, and nutty, tender farro.
• Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese - Sweet and citrusy, with crunchy almonds and mellow goat cheese.
• The Perfect Tomato Salad - So easy! Just tomatoes, good balsamic vinegar, a flurry of basil.
• Crunchy Peanut Slaw - A real crowd-pleaser. Chopped cabbage, peanuts, a sweet and salty soy dressing.
• Broccoli Slaw - A modern version of that old-fashioned broccoli slaw, lightened-up and fresher.
• Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing - Even more addictive than the cabbage slaw, and so bright and attractive with its jewel-green kale.
• Herbed Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad - The essence of summer: sweet corn, tomatoes, a little goat cheese.
• Grilled Zucchini and Grape Tomato Salad - An even simpler summer salad. Just throw the vegetables on the grill, then toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper.
• Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta - A glorious Greek-inspired salad with herbs, feta cheese, and lots of red onion. Zesty!
Pasta and Potato Salads
• Potato Salad with Yogurt, Arugula, and Dill - Simple, fresh, and delicious. Tangy with yogurt, and fresh herbs.
• Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots - Fresh basil, crunchy pink shallots, tender little potatoes.
• Kalamata Olive and Parsley Potato Salad - Purple potatoes! Very festive. With olives, parsley, and lemon.
• Potato Salad with Fava Beans and Fennel - If you have some late fava beans around, use them here! Lima beans or shelled edamame would also be delicious in this fresh green potato salad.
• Roasted Garlic, Olive and Tomato Pasta Salad - Roasted garlic, tomatoes, olives - yummy!
What is your favorite salad for a picnic? Do you like grain salads? Pasta salads? Just plain garden salads? Tell us!
(Thanks to Faith for pulling together this list while I'm deep in the cave of finishing up my book!)
Related: Recipe Roundup: Main Dish Salads
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