Graphic images of salads

10 easy meal salads to put on repeat this summer

When it's hot outside, meal salads are the smart choice.

Salad for dinner? You’ve got that right! There’s no better time than summer to enjoy salads made with fresh, local ingredients. Most of the salads we’ve included can have ingredient swaps based on what’s in season. You can also bulk up any of these salads with more protein or grains. Read through all 10 recipes – you could easily find elements of one recipe that you want to use in another. How about swapping out the crispy white beans in Vanessa Perrone’s Flank Steak Salad for the lemony chickpeas from Hannah Sunderani’s Chickpea Salade Niçoise? The only rules are to have fun and enjoy the summer season.

1. Garden Panzanella Salad

A dish with salad resting in an outdoor garden
Photography, Andrew Montgomery

Are radishes in season? Green beans? Asparagus? Rosie Daykin’s Garden Panzanella Salad is a mix-and-match salad that allows for flexibility with what ingredients you use. Whether you’re choosing veggies from the farmers’ market or your own garden, Daykin advises not to hesitate if you want to switch things up. The one ingredient that’s non-negotiable? “Trust me when I tell you there is no substitute for the goodness of toasty, salty, olive oily bread chunks,” Daykin writes.


2. Mandy’s Roasted Leek Salad With Quinoa

A woman in a turquoise sweater eating from a bowl of salad
Photography, Alison Slattery

This salad from Mandy’s restaurant is a showcase for McIntosh apples. Apples are paired with roasted fennel and leek then tossed in a zesty lemon-thyme vinaigrette. Quinoa adds substance, while celery and toasted pecans add crunch. Roast the fennel and leeks in the evening ahead of time so that you don’t have to turn the oven on in the heat of the day. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use – the mixture keeps for up to 5 days.


3. Crispy Rice Salad With Smashed Cucumbers

overhead shot of rice salad with greens

calls for crisping cooked jasmine rice until it becomes golden brown to create a satisfying texture (or, as Beaudoin calls it, a “toothsome bite”). A bright vinaigrette made with the brine of pickled radishes offsets the toasty rice, while peanuts and tofu add protein.


4. Flank Steak Salad With Crispy White Beans

A white plate with salad and sliced steak on a woven placemat
Photography, Ariel Tarr

Red meat may not rate highly as an ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, but research shows that lean red meat can support heart health. Cookbook author and chef Vanessa Perrone advises that plant-based proteins like beans can be an easy and delicious stepping stone for those carnivores aspiring to add more plant-power to their diets without foregoing red meat completely. “In this dish,” writes Perrone, “white beans are crisped up in the oven, acting like protein-packed croutons on top of this peppery salad. They also make for a great crunchy snack.”


5. Chickpea Salad Niçoise

A plate with a niçoise salad on a wooden surface
Photography, Hannah Sunderani

Hannah Sunderani updates the classic Salade Niçoise with a vegan twist and omits the hard-boiled eggs and anchovies in her recipe. She adds chickpeas that have been lightly tossed in a combination of lemon juice, Dijon mustard, fresh oregano and kosher salt. 


6. Soba Noodle Salad

A white dish with soba noodle salad
Photography, Rachelle Beatty

The first time celebrity decorator Jillian Harris tried wafu, she instantly fell in love with its flavour profile. Wafu is a Japanese-style dressing typically made with soy sauce, rice vinegar and vegetable oil. When developing the recipe with Harris, sister-in-law Tori Wesszer added mayonnaise to the dressing to make it creamy and a touch of ginger “peeking through” to add lift. To make it a meal, simply top with tofu or cooked shrimp.


7. Shrimp Salad With Melon and Thai Basil

Photography, Stacey Brandford

Thai basil leaves add personality to the Southeast Asian-inspired salad – in fact, they take the place of salad greens here. Homemade crispy fried shallots are a fitting highlight to this refreshing, perfect-on-a-hot-day meal.


8. Soba Noodle Salad With Grilled Tofu

If you’ve ever been to Fresh Kitchen + Juice Bar, you’ve probably enjoyed their notorious Noodlerama salad. And after eating the bright, flavourful salad, you’ve probably wanted to ask for the recipe so you can make it at home. Well, here it is! “This recipe celebrates the plant world in all its forms: leaves, sprouts, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and fruits,” says Fresh Kitchen + Juice Bar’s executive chef and co-owner Jennifer Houston. She adds soba noodles make the salad “satisfying enough to be a meal on its own.”


9. Melon Poppyseed Shrimp Salad

A bowl with salad and a fork and knife photographed from above
Photography, Daniel Alexander Skwarna

Certified nutritionists Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman present recipe “formulas” designed to include micronutrients and minerals that can help boost your mood. Says the duo about this salad: “The sweet-and-sour dressing brings everything together in this summery, uplifting meal.”


10. Lentil Salad With Green Tahini Dressing

A silver bento box and bowl filled with lentils and greens with a bowl of green dressing on the side
Photography, Eva Kolenko

We can’t miss including this filling, healthy salad from Love and Lemons superstar . It’s an easy meal salad to prep for picnics, packed lunches and potluck dinners. The creamy green tahini dressing recipe is versatile – feel free to use any fresh herbs you’re growing in the garden. “I might use parsley instead of cilantro or experiment with adding tarragon, dill or chives. I love that it’s a little bit different each time I eat it!” writes Donofrio.

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