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Dinner Salad Recipes that are Super for Summer

The dog days of summer make it too, too hot to cook, let alone eat hot food. Get in and out of the kitchen with these super dinner salad recipes.

santa fe chicken salad (2)

Our summer weather hasn’t been too cool and breezy of late. We don’t have AC, and afternoon temps in the house have hovered far above the 82 at which I would have set my imaginary air conditioning to kick on. This means that I am quite the wilted flower by the time dinner rolls around.

And not in the mood to cook.

One of my favorite hot weather meals is the fabulous dinner salad. It’s the perfect one-dish dinner to help you feel cool and breezy even when the temperature dial would say otherwise.

The main dish dinner salad has a lot of things going for it:

  • It’s very make-ahead.
  • It’s cool and refreshing.
  • It incorporates loads of fresh vegetables which everyone agrees are good for you.
  • It tastes great.

I’ve got a great lineup of dinner salad recipes for you to try over the next couple months while summer lingers. Plus, 4 must-have kitchen tools to help you enjoy main dish salads more often.

4 Kitchen Tools to Help You Make Great Dinner Salads

Good knives – It’s imperative to have a good set of knives for chopping, dicing, and slicing. You don’t have to buy a full set; you can do quite well with a chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife, and a paring knife.

Big cutting boards – Protect your blades as well as your counter tops by cutting on good counter tops. I have a variety of boards in different colors so I can prevent cross contamination between raw meats and vegetables.

A salad spinner – I prefer to cut my own salad greens, so having a salad spinner really helps. It gets the excess water off the lettuce so they don’t get soggy. This is great, especially if you want to make several days of lunch salads in advance.

Plastic containers with lids – These are awesome for packing salads for lunch.  I’ve bought several sets for my husband to take to work or for me to pack my own lunches in advance. They are as durable as glass, but they’re disposable, so you don’t have to worry about them too much.

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Dinner Salad Recipes that are Super for Summer

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Asian Cabbage Salad with Chicken and Mandarin Oranges

I love make-ahead dinner salads, and this Asian Cabbage Salad with Chicken and Mandarin Oranges is just that. It’s full of crunch, thanks to the cabbage, cucumbers, cashews, and chow mein noodles. That makes it perfect for potlucks since it won’t get soggy too quickly.

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Chicken Strip Salad with Blue Cheese and Pumpkin Seeds

You don’t need to get super complicated in order to present a fancy-schmancy dinner salad. I typically start with a bed of greens, a hearty protein, two or three veggies, and then a couple bonus toppings like croutons, cheese, nuts, or seeds. This Chicken Strip Salad with Blue Cheese and Pumpkin Seeds follows that formula, so simple, but amazingly packed with flavor.

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Italian Salad with Crispy Prosciutto

This Italian Salad with Crispy Prosciutto is loaded with vegetables, like red butter lettuce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, carrots, red onion, cucumbers, and black olives. I took the liberty of adding a bit of charcuterie for a little fun twist.

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Turkey and Ham Cobb Salad

Since I love blue cheese, avocado, and bacon, this Turkey and Ham Cobb Salad is one of my very favorite salads in the whole world. Supposedly, it was invented in the 20’s as a way to use up leftovers. Another reason why I like it! It’s an ideal dinner salad for warmer weather.

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Salade Nicoise

The Salade Nicoise is a classic French salad. I’ve done my best to recreate it here in a way that suits the American palate and grocery bill. It’s composed rather than tossed and features fresh vegetables, tiny salty black olives, and tuna.

6 Super Dinner Salad Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats

Santa Fe Salad with Chicken, Corn, and Black Beans

Santa Fe Salad with Chicken, Corn, and Black Beans is one of my lazy mom meals. You’ve got to cook the chicken and chop a few things, but you should be able to get this dinner salad on the table in 30 minutes.

What’s YOUR favorite dinner salad?

Dinner Salad Recipes that are Super for Summer

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Comments

  1. Stephanie M. says:

    I love salads too and I like to have a variety of them; I love steak salad using leftover London broil and a balsamic vinaigrette. I also love Taco salad. Sometimes I just make a pasta salad and with a nice crusty loaf of bread call it dinner. With the stifling hot humid weather of New Jersey among us now, mostly always over 90 with humidity so awful you can’t go outside, a cold supper is always a welcome one.

  2. Jennifer J says:

    Salads and cooking on the grill are our go to in the summer! We have AC ( it’s a must in NC ) but is still nice not to heat up the house with the oven / stove. Just curious about why you don’t have AC in your house. Is it not common in your part of California?

  3. Stephanie M. says:

    Your post today about dinner salads really inspired me because we are so hot here too and I’m with you; I don’t feel like cooking when it’s this hot. So, I just came back from the store and picked up whatever I needed to make a tortellini pasta salad for tonight. I already had mostly everything I needed in the house with the exception of the tortellini ( which I could have substituted pasta with; I just wanted tortellini), and asparagus, some mozzarella and a couple of small ham steaks. It’s a big pasta salad with a lot in it, but I actually had more than half of what I needed. And it sounded so good to me when I saw your post. So tonight, it’s pasta salad and a loaf of bread – Done!! 🙂

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