Are you dreaming of salad during these sweltering July days? Heavy on veggies and light on dressing, a summer salad is the refreshing meal you need at the end of the day.
From a vegetarian taco salad to a mess of juicy tomatoes to the citrusy salad that explains the existence of kale and quinoa, these 25 hearty recipes are the key to your salad dreams this summer.
More Ways to Make Sure It's a Hearty Salad (for You)
Of course, if you're going to eat a salad for dinner, you're going to want to know it will fill you up. Depending on the size of your appetite, some of these may need a little extra help. Besides the obvious (throw some chicken breast on top!) here are seven more toppings that can really make your salad feel like dinner in a bowl.
Star Salad Toppers: 7 Quick Toppings That Turn Salad into Dinner
You can customize this succotash salad to make it your own depending on which type of beans — lima, fava, or edamame — you choose. Then all it takes is a quick sauté in the skillet for everything to come together.
We'll never say no to adding a bit of fruit to a salad, and this version with dried apricots is simple and delicious. The large shavings of Parmesan feel more like a mix-in than a garnish on top, and the oil and red wine vinegar dressing gives just enough tartness.
While this salad might get its name from the dressing, the rest of the fixings are just as noteworthy. Fresh radishes, slightly wilted greens, quinoa, and walnuts make for a hearty yet refreshing summer dinner salad.
The secret to making this salad truly amazing is the homemade lemony croutons. Yes, you could use store-bought ones, but making these with lemon juice and olive oil only takes a few minutes in the toaster oven, and will take your dinner to new heights.
For a lighter quinoa salad, go easy on the dressing and use microgreens in place of your normal arugula or spinach. This simple salad, dressed with lemon juice, is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Keeping the avocado chunks in this salad large makes them act more like a main ingredient. Of course, if you want some extra nutrition, you can always add pieces of rotisserie chicken or tofu.
Simply dressed greens and baked goat cheese are all you need on a hot summer night. The creamy cheese perfectly complements the slight bitterness of some of the salad greens. Be sure you buy good-quality lettuce since it's the star of the show.
If you have a house full of growing kids, but want to serve salad for dinner, let us recommend something like this. The chunks of chicken and creamy dressing make it feel satisfying, and the chickpeas add an extra dose of fiber.
This salad has a lot of things going for it: the juicy burst of the grapes, the tangy mustard vinaigrette, and the saltiness of the crumbled ricotta salata. It's a salad you'll want to make all summer long.
If you want to make a salad that will hold up for leftovers, this is your winner. The miso-lemon vinaigrette is tart and refreshing, and the kale is sturdy enough to be enjoyed for as long as you have salad left.
As soon as the first fresh pears start showing up, we immediately make this salad for dinner. It is simple and light, but benefits from the texture and flavor of the pears.
You won't miss the greens in this tomato-based salad — especially if you can find perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes to toss with the cucumber and red onion slices. The olives and feta give it a salty kick as well.
If you don't often cook a lot of barley in the summer, this recipe could soon change that. It is similar to a succotash in ingredients, but has the added texture and fullness from the barley.
A salad that keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for a few days. The beans give it heft and the cucumbers make it so refreshing. It's a perfectly light summer dinner.
Taco salad is one of our favorite easy weeknight dinners, and this vegetarian version is chock-full of all kinds of vegetables, beans, and yes, chips. Play around with the recipe and add whatever fresh veggies you have on hand from your farmers market or CSA.
The trick to making this salad extra tasty is frying the cooked quinoa to make it a bit crispy and crunchy. You can almost pretend that they are tiny croutons. The corn and pine nuts give it a heartiness without being too heavy.
A salad inspired by grown-up hippie food at the Ace Hotel — plumped up with caramelized onions, and filled out with almonds and red quinoa. Pretty much the perfect dinner salad, in our minds.
The star of this chopped salad is the red lentil falafel. It's easy to make since you bake the falafel balls instead of frying them. But keep in mind that there is a step you start the night before, so it's best to plan ahead with this recipe.
19. Lyonnaise Salad
This traditional dish is just one of the things we love about French cuisine. It combines bitter frisée with crispy bacon pieces, a poached egg, and a warm vinaigrette. You can't go wrong with this for dinner.
If you have a lot of fresh, in-season produce, there's something to be said for enjoying it as is. This raw salad makes use of your backyard garden or your farmers market haul and is infinitely customizable.
The base of this salad is broccoli slaw that you can buy pre-prepared at the grocery store. It will save you time getting dinner on the table or packing the salad for lunch during the week. You'll want to make some extra peanut butter dressing — it's that tasty.
A recipe for two, with one of the better dressings we know how to make.
If it isn't dinner without a protein-filled dish, then this is the salad for you. The greens and shaved Brussels sprouts make a hearty base for the shredded carnitas, and a few crushed-up tortilla chips give a satisfying crunch.
A cauliflower couscous bed means double the vegetables!
The zucchini noodle base makes this salad light and refreshing, but the buffalo-spiced croutons and creamy blue cheese dressing are the real showstoppers in this dish. We bet your family will be asking for seconds.