Summer is the perfect time to experiment with salad combinations. It’s easy to fall into using the same ingredients time and again, but there are pretty limitless options when it comes to creating amazing salads that taste delicious as well as being super good for you, not to mention packing in all kinds of nutrients. But have you ever thought of using herbs to really elevate those summer salads to the next level of tasty?
We’ve found some mouthwatering salad ideas and come up with suggestions on how herbs to use to make them even better.
How To Use Fresh Herbs In Salads
There’s no doubt that fresh herbs can pack a punch to any dish, and salads are no exception. Let’s face it, a standard salad made up of lettuce varieties and often bland vegetables and protein can be pretty dull. Here’s how you can use the most popular herbs in your salads to make them extra tasty:
Flavour: Depending on the variety, basil’s flavour includes hints of pepper, mint and anise.
How to Use It: This aromatic herb pairs well with cheeses and fresh tomatoes and works incredibly well with Italian-inspired salads.
Flavour: Chives have a mild onion flavour.
How to Use It: Chives are a great addition to potato salads! Fresh chives also pair well with the strong flavours in any Cobb salad recipe.
Flavour: Mint ranges from peppery to strongly menthol in taste.
How to Use It: Mint is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine; therefore, perfect in Mediterranean style salads. It pairs well with citrus and salty cheeses such as feta as well as fresh cucumber.
Flavour: Thyme has a spicy, slightly sweet and woody flavour.
How to Use It: Thyme works well with poultry making it perfect for a chicken salad. It also goes well with strong cheeses.
Flavour: Parsley has a fresh, celery-like flavour with bitter undertones.
How to Use It: Parsley is a super versatile herb and works with most food pairings, including potato and pasta salads. It’s also a great addition to grain salads such as Quinoa.
Flavour: Dill has a subtle liquorice or fennel-like flavour. It is best to use it in small quantities, as too much can overwhelm a dish.
How to Use It: Due to its delicate appearance and mild flavour, dill works well in spring salad recipes and pairs well with spring vegetables such as asparagus and peas. It’s also a perfect addition to salad dressings.
Summer Salad Recipe Ideas
There are all kinds of salads you can make quickly this summer, and it’s not all lettuce and tomatoes. Some ideas for making the most of the season’s ingredients include:
- Pasta Salads – either hot or cold, pasta salads are not only delicious but also filling too.
- Cobb Salads – a super easy salad usually with your chosen ingredients set on a bed of romaine lettuce
- Potato Salads – creamy, super tasty and great with added herbs such as dill or parsley
- Greek Salad – a mouthwatering fresh salad consisting of fresh romaine, chunks of cucumber, salty Feta, tart olives and a bright, zesty dressing.
- Fruit Salads – Take your summer salad beyond the main course with a fruit salad. Use mint to garnish for a super fresh desert
We’ve found so many amazing salad recipes but here are a few of our favourites.
All Summer Pasta Salad
Found on Country Living’s Website, they promise that it’s the only basic pasta salad recipe you’ll ever need. A bold statement, but having the recipe, it could quite well be right.
For the Dressing
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Sugar
For the pasta salad
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. rotini pasta
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 pt. grape tomatoes halved
3/4 c. chopped marinated artichokes
1/3 c. pitted kalamata olives, chopped
4 oz. cured salami, such as Soppressata, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp. chopped capers
14 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, and sugar in a bowl. Transfer half of the dressing to a large bowl and add onions; toss to coat. Let stand while the pasta cooks.
- Drain pasta and add to onion mixture; toss until liquid is absorbed. Cool to room temperature.
- Add bell pepper, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, salami, parsley, oregano, capers, and remaining dressing, and toss to coat. Fold in mozzarella. Serve sprinkled with additional parsley.
Easy Halloumi Salad With Couscous
Found on Walder Wellness, dietician Carrie Walder this easy halloumi and couscous salad is perfect for summer. The full post includes tips for cooking couscous, and halloumi, making this recipe in advance, and some recipe modification ideas/ingredient swaps.
1/3 cup pearl or Israeli couscous, dry (or 1 cup cooked)
1 block halloumi cheese
4 cups arugula
1 cup cucumber, sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1 cup steamed baby beets, quartered (pre-packed)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks
Salt + pepper, to taste
For the balsamic vinaigrette dressing:
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 a lemon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt + pepper, to taste
- Cook couscous according to package directions. You can also use pre-cooked couscous if you have some on hand.
- While couscous cooks, chop all the veggies and add to a large bowl with arugula.
- Make the dressing by adding all dressing ingredients to a small bowl or jar with a lid. Whisk or shake together.
- Cut the block of halloumi cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium and add slices directly to the pan (there is no need for additional oil). Allow to cook undisturbed for about 1-2 minutes. Check to see if the underside is starting to brown and crisp. When it does, you can flip each piece over and repeat it on the other side. Remove from heat when done.
- Add cooked couscous to the bowl with all the veggies. Pour dressing over the top and toss everything together.
- Plate salad and top each serving with an even amount of avocado chunks and fried halloumi cheese. Enjoy!
Tropical Fruit Salad in Lemongrass Syrup
This fruit salad recipe from BBC Good Food makes the perfect summer dessert. Pair it with a light sorbet or creamy ice cream for even more taste.
425g can of lychees in syrup
2 stems of lemongrass halved and bashed with a rolling pin
85g golden caster sugar
2 x cans of fresh mixed tropical fruit
100g seedless red grape
6 macaroons or coconut biscuits to serve
- Drain the lychees’ juice into a pan and put the lychees in a large serving bowl. Add the lemongrass and sugar to the pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves, and then boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and set aside – the lemongrass will add flavour as it cools.
- Strain the syrup over the lychees and tip in the fruits. Chill. Serve with macaroons.
Try experimenting with various ingredients and when you find a winning combination, let us know in the comments.