Even though it is still spring, we’re feeling the Southern summer heat starting to creep in, making all of those piping hot wintery dishes not quite as appealing. So we’ve been looking to find some fabulous lighter dishes that are as easy as they are tasty, and today, Meredith Tolleson of The Southern Source has just what we are looking for: five delicious and easy salad recipes that will be your new spring and summer go-tos. Take it away, Meredith!
It’s heating up here in the South, which means we’ll be having more backyard barbecues, neighborhood parties and holiday celebrations. No matter where you live or where you’ll be hanging out, all of our festivities will include one commonality: food.
My favorite thing about the warmer months in the South is dining outdoors, but even if you choose to stay inside, there’s nothing better than throwing some chicken on the grill and pairing it with a light, crisp salad and a glass of white wine. For weekends when you’re on-the-go, whether it’s to the lake or a friend’s house, a fruit salad makes for a flavorful side dish that travels well. And there are so many different ways to dress up your greens as we transition from spring to summer.
If there’s one salad topper recipe to keep in your back pocket year round, it’s the balsamic vinaigrette included below. You can use it on the classic cobb, spring chicken salad and broccoli crunch salad, as well as your wintertime salads. It’s so fun to get creative with salad dressings, and they don’t always have to include a lot of ingredients. In fact, you probably have all the makings to whip up two of the dressings right now! The chipotle ranch and lemon vinaigrette both have only three or fewer ingredients.
Below, you’ll find five light, easy and delicious salad recipes that hit the mark every time. Plus, each salad includes a dressing recipe that perfectly complements it. And these creative springtime salads easily transition to summer, so you can enjoy these healthy, easy and tasty dishes all summer long!
5 Light, Delicious & Easy Salads to Enjoy All Spring & Summer
Cobb Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
- 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 bag mixed greens
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 5-6 strips cooked bacon
- 2 avocados
- Grape tomatoes
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
- Add all ingredients except olive oil to a blender or food processor, and blend until garlic is minced and ingredients are well blended. Slowly add olive oil and mix until smooth.
- Combine salad ingredients. Add the desired amount of creamy balsamic dressing to the salad. Toss and enjoy!
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Grilled Chicken Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp ground dry mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 container mixed greens
- 2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced into rings
- Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- Sunflower seeds
- Heat red wine vinegar and sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Whisk in oil; add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Serve or refrigerate.
- Season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Grill until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- While the chicken rests, toss desired amount of dressing on salad greens and remaining ingredients.
- Top with grilled chicken and enjoy!
Broccoli Crunch Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 bags of mixed greens
- Crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
- Green onions (scallions)
- Strawberries or apples
- 1 package of Ramen noodles, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Head of raw broccoli
- Juice 1 whole lemon. Add salt and pepper, and whisk in ½ cup olive oil.
- Smash ramen noodles inside of the bag and pour into saucepan with 2 tablespoons of butter and cook until brown and crispy.
- With your knife, shave the ends of the broccoli off of the head. (This way you’ll have smaller pieces with every bite!)
- Combine all salad ingredients with vinaigrette, toss and enjoy!
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Southwestern Salad with Chipotle Ranch
- 1 cup of ranch dressing
- 3 teaspoon chili adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 jumbo romaine hearts, chopped
- 1 can of white shoepeg corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 avocados, diced
- Grape tomatoes, halved
- Mexican blend cheese (optional)
- Add ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add corn and allow to char on one side. Season with salt, pepper and ¼ tsp paprika. This adds a nice smoky flavor to the corn. Remove from heat and store on a plate to allow corn to cool.
- Combine all salad ingredients. Toss with desired amount of chipotle ranch and enjoy!
Watermelon and Feta Salad
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2-3 cups diced watermelon (1 ½ lbs)
- ¼ medium red onion, sliced
- 4 oz. feta cheese
- Mint garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine watermelon, feta, mint and onion; toss with dressing to taste.
Now go impress all of your friends with these creative, easy and delicious salads!
Thank you to Meredith for today’s recipes and images.
Meredith Tolleson is a digital strategist and lifestyle blogger from Birmingham, AL. Her blog, The Southern Source, provides easy, everyday recipes for the modern Southern woman. Find delicious cocktails, travel guides to Southern cities and lifestyle tips all on her blog thesouthernsource.com
And when you’re ready to whip up some other tasty dishes, check out our recipe section. It’s filled with all sorts of amazing flavors!