It's nearly Memorial Day, if you can believe it, and the weather is warming across the country, which means it's time to start thinking about recipes for summer salads.
When you're dining on the porch or having a picnic, a big, satisfying salad is the perfect accompaniment to juicy burgers or shell-on seafood on the grill. From easy pasta salad recipes for summer to refreshing green summer salad recipes loaded with fresh veggies or fruit, TODAY Food is celebrating the unofficial kickoff of the season with 20 of our best salad recipes for summer.
So grab a big bowl (or three) and get ready to toss these savory, sweet and refreshing salads for whoever you're sharing this time with!
Green (and veggie-packed) summer salad recipes
Daphne Oz's Thai Niçoise Salad harmoniously merges two cuisines, French and Thai, into one salad containing nearly every color of the rainbow. Tangy ginger and lime and nutty peanuts replace the typical tuna and olive combo for a hearty array of versatile veggies.
This 10-minute salad is hefty enough to satisfy you in the middle of the day without any of the crash-and-burn effect from heavier, meat-filled salads. It's perfect to enjoy on its own, customized with your choice of protein, or all by itself: Just let the vegetables do the talking.
Anyone who's a fan of a seven-layer dip will fall in love with this healthier version, chock-full of raw, fresh veggies and topped with some creamy, cheesy bacon. The layers look enticing in a clear a bowl and the ingredients can be easily substituted with whatever produce you have on hand.
Brussels sprouts have overcome their former not-so-great reputation and this salad shows why. The raw sprouts, when shaved, provide a beautiful canvas for toasty walnuts and sharp cheeses, all tossed in a simple lemony dressing. It will convince even the most skeptical among us.
"I love this recipe because I believe that cooking a bunch of vegetables is one of the most luxurious things you can do for someone," Samin Nosrat, author of the cookbook-turned-Netflix-series, "Salt Fat Acid Heat," told TODAY. "And I love showing people that simple, humble ingredients can be extraordinarily delicious."
Don't let the name intimidate you. This salad has everything but the kitchen sink in it — and that's what makes it so delicious. Every bite has a different combination of flavors that keeps you coming back for more.
If you're hankering for some steaks on the grill but don't want all the heavy sides that usually accompany them, this Southwestern-inspired salad invites the garden to the party for a light, yet meaty, dish.
Something magical happens when you combine a little heat from fresh chiles with the mild, crunchy celery. It wakes up your senses. Serve this healthful salad alongside your typical barbecue fare to liven things up.
Pasta salad recipes for summer
Grilled vegetables add a naturally smoky touch to this classic pasta salad tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. Chef Matt Abdoo's mom originally created this recipe and he recalls her making a big batch to dish up for as many dinners or lunches as possible. Sounds like a great meal-prep plan!
When you need to use whatever you have in the fridge, turn to this recipe. It's one of the best summer salad recipes with pasta. If you have red onion, a little piece of squash or zucchini, berries, peaches, apples or one random tomato, just throw it in there. Plus, it tastes great as leftovers after more marination and at room temperature.
Dylan Dreyer shared her mom's go-to pasta salad recipe — and it only has five ingredients! With some good olive oil and freshly chopped tomatoes, this essential side dish looks pretty on the table with squiggly cavatappi (though any pasta would taste just as good in its place). For Dylan, the dish is pure nostalgia.
Adding tuna to pasta in a zippy vinaigrette is a great way to make this salad shine as an entrée. And with fresh herbs and red onion, it's a perfect foil to the heavier dishes on the table.
Elizabeth Heiskell puts a seafood spin on a classic that feels light and summery with flecks of fresh basil and mint and crisp asparagus. It's dressed in a vinaigrette that can be doubled, saved and used for salads all week long.
In honor of Kathie Lee Gifford's love for crab, chef Ryan Scott created this dish of fusilli pasta with sweet lump crabmeat, cherry tomatoes, haricots vert, summer squash, capers, tarragon, parsley and a charred lemon-Dijon mustard vinaigrette.
Best summer salad recipes featuring fruit
There's something so refreshing about the combination of juicy watermelon and salty feta. When you add sweet blueberries, you have the perfect, patriotic summer salad.
Creamy avocado and juicy citrus form a perfect marriage in this lively summer salad recipe. There's no lettuce involved but plenty of flavor from fennel, artichoke and ricotta salata. Once tossed in a spicy mustard vinaigrette, this dish will make your taste buds pop!
Roasted tomatoes and ... strawberries?! This unexpected duo is a match made in sweet, vibrant heaven. You can roast the tomatoes in advance and assemble the dish just before serving. You can use strawberries that are slightly underripe for this so the "green" flavor complements the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Pair these tropical fruits with refreshing mint and crunchy pomegranate seeds that burst in every bite and you've got yourself a vacation in salad form.
Giada De Laurentiis takes fruit salad to the next level with by adding white wine. It adds a nostalgic touch, similar to those canned fruit mixtures you might've had as a kid, but is served in a Champagne glass for an elegant touch.
Salad can be art, too. Cara Cara and blood oranges, pink grapefruits and kumquats are all super flavorful citrus varieties that may often be overlooked by shoppers in favor of Valencia oranges. All united in this tangy salad, they create a kaleidoscope of colors and a mouthwatering mélange of flavors everyone will enjoy.