The word salad persists as the bane of childhood existence, along with the words broccoli and spinach. Later, you find out salads flow with the seasons and can mean the inclusion of all sorts of delicious goodness.
That said, don’t discount the power of a salad when it comes to packing for a picnic. A salad stays fresh and offers a variety of delights for the taste buds. These summer salads will make your next picnic perfect.
Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Pasta Salad
You’ve got an entire meal here with chicken, pasta, strawberries and healthy greens tossed with a homemade strawberry vinaigretteand balsamic glaze. For the dressing, pulse balsamic vinegar, olive oil and strawberries in a food processor until the consistency is smooth. Add salt, pepper and honey to taste.
Toss pasta, spinach, strawberries, chicken, walnuts and feta together in a bowl. Add homemade vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh basil.
Mojito Fruit Salad
This fruit salad tastes exactly like a mojito, but you could always leave the rum out. Mix blueberries, red grapes, honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon together — or whatever fruit you prefer. Add chopped mint and powdered sugar, and drizzle a few squeezes of lime with the rum over the top.
Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat your cocktail. No one will be the wiser you’re boozing it up.
Summer Vegetable and Sunflower Panzanella
Seeded croutons and rich walnut oil vinaigrette punch up fresh greens from your summer garden. Savor the zest with a bite of asparagus, English peas and cucumbers. To make the dressing, mix walnut oil with vinegar, shallot and dill, seasoned with salt and pepper. Save half the dressing.
Bake the bread for croutons in the oven until golden. Blanch beans in boiling water until tender and cool in ice water. Pat them dry.
Combine croutons, peas, asparagus and cucumbers in the dressing. Add seeds and sunflower sprouts. Add a spoonful of labneh, and serve with additional dressing on the side.
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Put those summer tomatoes to work with this cucumber tomato salad that also adds a kick with whole cumin seed. Place thinly sliced red onion in a bowl. Cook mustard seeds and coriander over medium heat in a larger saucepan, stirring until seeds pop. Add cumin seeds until fragrant. Add in salt, sugar, vinegar and water. Simmer until salt and sugar dissolve.
Pour the mixture over the onion, and let it stand until it reaches room temperature. Refrigerate the mix for at least an hour or until needed. Drain the bowl, sitting aside one-quarter cup of the juice. Arrange onion, cucumber and tomatoes on a place, and drizzle with the saved vinegar juice and oil. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Barbecue Ranch Pasta Salad
Tired of regular pasta salad? Add corn chips with honey barbecue sauce with a protein for a unique picnic dish.
Boil pasta and rinse with cold water until cool. In a big bowl, mix black beans, green onions and corn with the pasta. In a separate bowl, mix barbecue sauce and ranch dressing together. Coat the salad with the dressing. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
Garnish with sliced avocado before serving. Sprinkle the avocados with lime juice so they don’t brown. Mix fresh summer tomatoes in for extra oomph.
Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados
Avocados are the toast of the town, and they taste even better as a part of a salad. Stuff avocados with chicken salad for a new twist on two picnic sweethearts. No one will be able to resist this recipe.
Scoop out the avocados but leave a thin border. Dice the avocado you scooped. Mix chicken, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, onion, mustard and lemon juice to make the chicken salad. Fold in the cubes of avocado. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Serve in the avocado bowls with parsley on top.
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
You can’t beat the classics when it comes to cravings. Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until tender but firm— around 15 minutes. Leaving the peel on or off is completely up to you. Put eggs in a pan and cover in cold water. Heat to boiling, cover, remove from heat and let rest for about 12 minutes. Cool, peel and chop. In a bowl, mix eggs, potatoes, onion, celery, celery salt, garlic salt, mustard, mayonnaise and pepper.
If you want to get extra creative but still invoke your inner Southerner, mix in sea-salted potato chips for more crunch.
Unsure of what to bring to the next summer picnic? Toss together one of these unique creations instead of the same old boring Caesar salad. Turn to other classics, like an old-fashioned potato salad, or get inventive with a mojito fruit salad.
The summer season brings a bounty of delicious fruits and vegetables to the picnic table. Salads have gotten more diverse from childhood, and there’s a salad choice to please every palate. Dive in!
Jennifer Landis is a 29-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.