If you think summer salads for cookouts are bland and boring, you’ve been using the wrong recipes. In honor of National Salad Month, we’re here to help you change that. These eight delicious salads as well as low fat salad dressings keep the calories and fat to a minimum and instead offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals and flavor.
Zucchini ribbon salad
Lettuce isn’t the only veggie you can use as the foundation for your salad. Proud Italian Cook had the genius idea to use thin, long slices of zucchini, mixed with arugula, as the base of the salad, and top it with some feta, pine nuts and homemade vinaigrette. Known as the “summer squash,” zucchini is just about to come into season, and this salad is a wonderful complement to whatever protein you prefer to cook up on the grill in the warmer months.
Avocado and grilled corn salad with cilantro vinaigrette
One of our favorite things about summer is sweet, juicy, wonderfully messy corn on the cob. While we love to grill up ears of it during the summer months and eat it in its full form, this salad recipe from Authentic Suburban Gourmet finds the next tastiest way to get your corn fix. Cook the ears of corn on the grill for the best results, cut off the kernels and mix with avocado, tomato, cucumber, feta and this cilantro vinaigrette.
Bulgar salad with chickpeas, roasted red peppers and spiced cumin dressing
We particularly love this recipe from Smitten Kitchen because of its unique spiced cumin dressing that uses lemon juice, honey, cayenne and — you guessed it — cumin. The salad combines chickpeas, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion and bulgar, a quick-cooking form of whole wheat, but the bulgar could also be substituted with quinoa for added protein.
Pear and arugula salad
This salad from CulinaryHerbGuide.com has it all: It’s both sweet and savory, offers the nutritional benefits of both fruit and vegetable, and the pears and walnuts add the perfect amount of crunch. To keep the calories and fat low — or to make this vegetarian — leave off the pancetta and stick to the mix of arugula, pears, ricotta salata, walnuts and lemon vinaigrette.
Watermelon, heirloom tomato and feta salad
There’s nothing like a refreshing, juicy salad when you’re soaking up the vitamin D in the summer heat. This recipe from MyRecipes.com chops up a sweet summer favorite, watermelon (both red and yellow), and tosses it with heirloom tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and a light lemon-herb vinaigrette. Add some mint, basil, parsley and chives, and you’ve got an impressive lunch or side dish to bring to your next barbecue.
Summer corn salad
We decided to celebrate summer early and made this a couple of weeks ago, so we can guarantee it’s a winner. Not only is it ridiculously simple to make, this summer corn salad from the Food Network is very low-calorie, low-fat and nutritious — an ideal meal or side salad for those looking to watch their weight and prep for beach season. All you need is a few ears of corn, tomato, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro and lime juice.
Radicchio salad with tahini lemon drizzle
Serious Eats’ ingenious idea to pair the bitterness of radicchio with the creamy, rich taste of tahini made this salad stand out to us. The recipe calls for a mix of radicchio, lettuce, cucumber and avocado, tossed in a flavorful dressing made of tahini, oil, lemon juice, garlic and honey. Yum!
Pan-grilled tomato salad with lemon dressing
Until now, we had been boring enough to keep our capers to hot dinner dishes. How silly of us! This recipe from Real Simple shows that they can be part of a flavorful fresh salad as well. The capers are used with lemon juice and parsley for the dressing, which is drizzled over pan-grilled beefsteak tomatoes, tender green beans, feta and arugula.